May, you’re here already! By now I hope it’s getting warmer in Europe, and that snow is finally starting to melt because you guys are making me so jealous with all your skiing! Down here in Mauritius the temperature has started to drop, winds are gaining strength and overall, we can feel the energy brought by this change of season. Watch this space for some images of windsurfing, kiteboarding, mountain bike and trail running, hopefully sprinkled with a bunch of climbing and surfing as well.
Meanwhile we have a project slowly brewing (for those who know: shhhh!!!): it will be about mountain climbing, and it will be long and strenuous. Consequently I have brought a particular attention to physical training since the start of this year, a kind of culmination out of the last two years of essentially keeping fit for the job of shooting athletes in various disciplines – a long winded way of saying this post will be about versatility in training. Illustration photos are from photoshoots with Emcar Sports (Salomon & Cannondale) ambassadors.
Windsurfing and rock-climbing had been long-time passions and when Blastoff Creative was born, I was also guiding hikes on Mauritius and climbs on our iconic Pieter Both mountain, as well as co-guiding canyoning (with Otelair Ltee) & kayaking excusions (with Yemaya). During the school and university days I kitesurfed, played rugby, did a bit of running, and cycling was more of transportation means than anything else. In early career I learned and practiced yoga (still do) and Ju-Jutsu also. I never competed in anything at a high level, but rather went for personal challenges like windsurfing in the remote Abrolhos Islands, cycling from Sweden to Serbia (approx 1500km) in a Month, and trekking in Nepal, reaching a 6000+ peak. These experiences, as well as working in the mines in Western Australia and in the ship building industry, have sparked a kind of fascination for what we would commonly call “adventure”: doing things we are scared of but attracted to, whatever it may be.
Now, shooting sports for some time, following several athletes on Strava and delving into some literature have shown me one thing: I was/am still far from my potential because I was simply not training enough – nowhere near it. Knowing about the challenge ahead, I’ve purchase a copy of Steve House‘s Training for the New Alpinism, which I actually recommend to any endurance athlete, even if you’re not a mountaineer or alpinist. The book goes through all the biological processes associated with endurance in an intelligible way, which are precious insights, and comprehensive ways to develop your programme to best suit your needs. Sure, if you want/can get a good coach on top of that, go for it, but the knowledge is well worth gaining anyway.
A key factor in training for me is variety, since I get bored quite easily and having different training methods allows to better adapt to what my body is telling me. Many local athletes have also embraced more disciplines than their specialty, either alone or under coach advice, giving more opportunity for active recovery and working on strength in weak areas. An inspiring discipline I had the chance to see in Norway was Nordic skiing, where athletes use their own locomotion to cover distance on skis, whether downhill, on flat terrain or even uphill, sometimes pulling a sled behind them – which is mandatory during races like Expedition Amundsen. This is one of the most energy-demanding sports out there. Between seasons they train by hiking and dragging one or more weighted tires behind them, a great workout for the back of the legs which I’ve been doing sporadically but will try practice at least once per week from now on. Add to that some technical climbing, hiking with heavy backpacks, running, cycling, paddling and swimming and you’ll never be bored! All this does take time though. Kilian Jornet addresses that fact in this video and it does resonate. Experience in different disciplines means you know more about different types of terrain, what can happen, what you need and what you don’t need, and all these elements make you more aware of yourself, of others and of your surroundings.
This year I’ve accumulated over 100 hours of training between January and April, predominently distributed between cycling, running, hiking, and strength training. Right now I seem to have developed an inflammation on the bottom of the foot (Metatarsalgia) so I’m on ice, hence able to take some time to write. Here’s wishing you a fantastic season ahead!