Spending the past two summers in Chamonix seemed justified in order to focus on the Mountain running season, on the whole; great weather, endless trails and nestled amongst stunning high peaks. A no brainer!! It was, therefore with a little trepidation that we decided to stay and sample a winter season.
I was pretty open-minded, considering that I HATE snow!! If I couldn’t run I embraced the idea of Cross-country skiing or snow-shoeing and how a break would do me good in the long term. Realistically the winter did not even arrive this year until mid-January. Until then Autumnal conditions prevailed and there was speculation amongst friends that the two runners had cursed the valley’s snow fall!!
In the space of the “winter” instead of minimal running I’ve actually had two seasons within one. Pre-Christmas I raced on the road circuit in Switzerland, mainly night races of 5-6km in loops around various towns. A necessary evil for me as a bid to maintain some kind of speed but the fields are always competitive and well supported in the towns so it makes them half-enjoyable!! Since the snow eventually arrived, running training hasn’t really had to change much at all. As a token gesture I have snow-shoed and attached sticks to my feet in a bid to shuffle around Cross-country pistes, but there’s only so much time in an already shortened winter’s day and to be honest I’d much rather be on two feet and try to keep knee ligaments in tact! I’m not ashamed to admit, however, that I have come full circle on my opinion of snow…at least in the Alps. It’s all compacted down, managed well and doesn’t bring life (running) to a frustrating standstill. I’ve thrown in the odd treadmill session if it’s been at all icy underfoot but my patience is limited on any straight line, never mind one that doesn’t go anywhere!
Overall it’s been a more running-packed winter than I expected, but I think a change is often as good as a rest. I’ve spent pretty much every winter since I was 12 or 13 running Cross-country, it’s always been my favourite season but the race venues and training can become monotonous. Winter running out here hasn’t allowed for this; training has been more adhoc and at times far from the staple Cross-country sessions I’ve always executed in the past. Since Christmas I have found three races to tide me over and fill the cross-country shaped hole in my winter. Again these have used more of a European format of short loops (complete with log jumps). They definitely haven’t been as competitive as British Cross-countries but I’d be lying if I said they haven’t been the highlight.
I might not be as sharp as or race-fit as I normally would be at this point in February but as I finished the last of these races on Saturday, in the sunshine near lac Leman and now that the green has started to reappear in the valley, I am relieved to say that I think I’ve survived the “ski season!”
So running is pretty unaffected, as long as I have still fitted in a mini road-racing season and post-Christmas sampled the Swiss Cross-Country scene.