St Moritz; week 1

July 9th, 2009 by

The rarefied air of the Swiss-Italian Alps has been my home for the past week. St Moritz is a tiny little Swiss town, village even, very close to the Italian border. (What it lacks for in size it more than makes up for in relative wealth!!) It is at anything between 1775m and 1900m, depending on which map or poster you look at. Whatever the altitude, it is a lot higher than Stirling, The Shire, and I have taken most of this first week to adapt. Internet access is sparse and I will be updating infrequently over the next few weeks as a result.

All the more time to swim, bike and run. And sight see:

Fraser Cartmell

The view from 2456m last night

I am up here with Tim Don, Alistair+Johnny Brownlee, Hollie Avil and Liz Blatchford, who between them have had some great results at either the Des Moines World Cup or the European Championships over the past couple weeks. It’s a great opportunity for me to train with some of the best athletes and I will do my best to watch and learn.

Altitude is a tough leveller in terms of training, and in the pool especially, training times kind of go out the window. For now at least, it feels akin to swimming through honey, syrup or indeed any other such sugary breakfast spread! If you miss a breath or take in water during a hard rep you more than know about it, since ( as Liz accurately pointed out yesterday morning) “every breath is precious”. I more than agree! Heart rate is elevated much more, and in the mornings, my resting HR is still to return to my regular sea-level value. Slowly but surely the body is adapting. I just wish it would do it quicker.

Yesterday Tim and I (along with his coach, Ben Bright) descended for the first time on the bike. What I mean is that we ‘dropped off the edge’ of the valley floor we are living in. – St Moritz lies in a long valley which means we can ride (and even more importantly – run, for as long as we need to on the flat) which spells happy days. More than often when at altitude you need to finish your ride or run climbing back up to your house. So we rode as far the valley would take us, having climbed steadily, but not too badly. Then we went down. And down. 25 minutes later we had dropped way down into a differernt world where the air was warm and arm warmers and jackets weren’t needed. We necked a coffee and started the long climb back up. – 70 minutes later we were back at the same place we had added extra layers some 2 hours previously.

The scenery was outstanding, the gradients testing, but the result? – Alpine climbs, Fraser and his Time Trial Bike do not mix very well. We shall be working on this over the next week! After a solid run off I was pleased with my first day of hard training. However today I woke up feeling a little worse for wear and realising I shall have to be that bit more careful up high than I have to be when down low whilst training hard.

Tim Don

The top of the climb