Sunday, January 1, 2023

2022 Recap

After having raised my training volume to 10 hours per week in 2021, the goal for 2022 was consistency. Thankfully, my work schedules, and specially my business travel that continues to be reduced, enabled me to maintain or actually increase my training volume very slightly to 10.2 hours a week.

This year, I was spared from any significant knee injury. This allowed me to return my focus to running, compared to last year when knee pain forced me to focus on Cycling. In fact, I ran more than 2500 km, something I had only done once in 2015 when I started my Ultra running journey. It is great to have at least these 2 options, Cycling and running, with an acceptable cross-training effect, and to have flexibility to adjust the training plan depending on the circumstances. My cycling volume suffered naturally, but that’s okay. If I could do a minimum of 2000km of running and 4000km of cycling every year, I’ll be very happy. Every additional hour of training is probably better spent on some kind of strength training.

Before I continue, here are the events I joined in 2022:

  • March 11: Qarun66 Ultrarun in the desert north of lake Qarun at Fayyoum, Egypt (66k) (9hrs:15min)
  • May 28: Olympic distance triathlon by Trifactory in Soma Bay, Egypt (2hrs:55min)
  • June 24: Olympic distance aquathlon by Trifactory in Marassi, Morth Coast, Egypt (1 hrs:35min)
  • August: Self organized Transalpine run in Germany, Austria and Italy. 4 days from Oberstdorf, Germany to Merano, Italy
  • October 21: Alexandria Marathon, Egypt, Alexandria (4 hrs:19min:51)
  • November 18: Ironman 70.3 Egypt, Sahl Hasheesh (6 hrs:05min:36)
  • December 10: Pyramids Halfmarathon, Egypt, Cairo (1 hrs:57min:34)

Two events are missing in the above: The Galala cycling challenge in October conflicted with some other commitment I had. Hathor100 was unfortunately cancelled due to the high cost for many after the devaluation of the Egyptian pound. I hope it will be possible to return to acceptable cost since this was a very nice and challenging race with a great family building character among participants.

On the other hand, I added another activity that had been in the planning for years, such that I almost gave up on it. Markus and Eckart, two colleagues from Germany and I crossed the Alps from Oberstdorf in Germany through Austria to Merano in Italy. In 4 days, we hiked 85.5 km and ascended 4852 m. This was a new and great experience. Already on the first day, I learned the hard way the difference between my trail running shoes and what is needed for hiking in such a technical terrain. Hiking gives you the time to enjoy nature even more than running, and nature in the Alps is truly something that forces you to stop here and there in awe of its beauty. I will certainly want to return and hike or run more in the Alps, and if a couple of people are interested in joining me and can commit to it, I could organize a trip for August 2023. Let me know.

Back in May, I wrote about the impact of raising my training volume to 10 hours a week and how that might have impacted my results positively in long events. I mentioned that I completed Qarun66 more than an hour faster than the year before. Since then, I have repeated Ironman 70.3 Egypt (half-ironman) and improved my time there as well. However, in my report on it (see blog post from November) I attributed this improvement to other things than training volume. I had a couple of additional data points in October and December. I did the Alexandria marathon in October in 4 hours 19 minutes and 51 seconds. While this was not a personal best (PB), but it was a few minutes faster than the previous marathon and only 2 and a half minutes slower than my PB set in 2001 (4:17 at the Flying Pig Marathon, Cincinnati/Ohio). Considering that I have gained quite some weight and aged 21 years since then, the marathon in Alexandria could indeed be considered my best performance. Then there was the Pyramids Halfmarathon in December which I completed 6 minutes faster than in 2020. I guess all of this is sufficient indication that training volume does have an effect.

For 2023, I’d like to continue the consistency of training above 10 hours a week on average as a first goal. Given that I didn’t have any significant knee pain, I’d like to introduce some more speed work, high intensity training, and strength training. The aim is to achieve personal bests in the Marathon and Halfmarathon distances as well as in races I can compare like Ironman 70.3 Egypt.

With all that said, these year-on-year improvements I share here on this blog remain secondary objectives versus the health and longevity objective. I have turned 60 this year and I would love to be competing at the same level in 5 and 10 years from now and beyond, inshallah.

Happy New Year, everyone.