Are you afraid to go to Font Romeu at this time of year because of the snow? Are you put off by the prospect of cold weather? Irish International Kerry Harty has spent a considerable amount of time training in the town over the past few years, and likes the place so much that she even bought an apartment in the town. When Kerry is not in Font Romeu, her appartment is available for rent. For further details check out her website www.fontromeuapartment.net. In this post Kerry tells us about what training she’s doing at the moment in snowy Font Romeu.
Last year Kerry become the 5th Irish female to break 10 minutes for the 3,000m (yes, another one that kicks my ass over the barriers!), and has represented Ireland at the European Cross Country Championships. She is a multiple Northern Ireland record holder, and will have next year’s Commonwealth Games in her sights. To follow Kerry's training and progress check out: www.runkerryrun.net.
I am currently out in Font Romeu (FR) living at 6,000 feet preparing for the outdoor track & field season. We arrived in the third week of March which is quite early for this part of the world and they have had more snow than in over a decade so many of our normal training areas were still in knee-deep snow when we arrived! In fact we have had all four seasons over the past three weeks here. Also with me at the moment is Irish Junior Eoghan Totten from my home town who is spending three and a half weeks before hoping to smash his 10,000m PB on the track in early May. During the first week we ran a lot down in the Cerdagne Valley (at 4,000 feet) both in France and Spain. It is only a short 20-minute drive and there was no lying snow at this level. We have discovered some lovely new trails in the countryside which take in some spectacular views and wildlife. I really enjoy finding new places to run, it keeps training fresh and it's always good to get some heat on your back.
We have also taken a few trips to Perpignan and run at the beautiful Lac de la Raho. It's only around a 90-minute drive from FR and the weather is usually pretty good. The lap of the lake is flat, fast and around 4 miles. I love to do tempo work down there especially when it’s snowy up top. Back near FR at an altitude of around 5,000 there is also the Lac de Matemale. It’s also good for faster runs at around 5.5miles to a lap and the neighbouring forest has endless trails with carpets of pine needles much easier on the legs than tarmac. We’ve even done some runs in the snow in the forests over the early weeks. I’ve been using the ‘Yak Trax’ attached to the bottom of my training shoes; once on you don't feel them at all and they give a better grip. Runs are obviously slower on the snow but good for strength development. I’ve even been able to slot in some cross-country skiing into training which is great for getting in a few extra miles without the impact. It’s a fantastic way to cross-train out here and gives you a really hard workout. In another life I would definitely give biathlon a go – the FR area is the home of Martin Fourcade (and his brother Simon), World and Olympic Biathlon Champion.
Just at the end of last week after having a great spell of sunshine we experienced another dump of snow topping up the forest trails unfortunately and the track was also covered again. The lanes had originally been cleared from the winter snow and we had been doing sessions regularly but on Friday it snowed for 24 hours so we jumped in the car and drove to Barcelona for the day to do our track session in the sunshine at sea-level. It's a 2-hour drive but the roads are good and the track we used is situated right on the beach, so a nice wee dip in the Mediterranean after was very refreshing for the legs :)
So training here in FR at this time of the year can be done but I would say that transport is essential as the town is literally built on the side of a hill and there are brilliant running locations dotted inside a 20-minute ‘drive time’ radius. The lying snow at 6,000 feet has forced us to uncover new running trails and that’s a good thing. I’m doing around 70 miles plus two strength & conditioning sessions and one drills & hurdles session each week at the moment.
I plan to stay here for just over eight weeks and three have gone already and they have flown in. Generally spring is in the air, summer is around the corner and I’m looking forward to track races already in early May in Toulouse and then in Italy – all being well :)
Thanks Kerry. Looking forward to 'racing' against you this season.