I have taken the last 10 days off from training. Initially, this was due to an army reserves exercise, which took place in Southern Finland last week. As a souvenir, I took home a strain of flu, that I have not been able to shake off, but it is starting to look better now.
For the dogs, this has been just resting and getting fat. We will start working today, to get back on track. I will try to make up for some of the lost time by training 6 of the following 7 days. I will keep the daily increase in distance modest, to compensate for the number of workouts in the period.
Personally, this has not been just relaxation. First of all, the actual exercise, while not aerobically challenging, was a good test of stamina and character. The active phase lasted four days, during which time we should have had a whopping 6 hours of sleep per day. In practice, this was cut in half every day, so between Thursday and Sunday, I could use 9 hours, combined, for sleeping.
This nine-hour window is, however, highly theoretical. When our squad arrived in the camp someone had already pitched our tent. We thought this was a nice gesture… until it started raining. Whoever it was who had pitched the tent, had not known how to do it, proper. As a result, the tent collected all of the rainwater inside the tent. To have a pool party in a tent sounds a lot nicer than it actually is, in late November.
As a result of all of this, many of us had wet sleeping bags and gear for the remainder of the exercise, cutting back our ability to sleep properly.
In addition to lack of sleep, there is the actual physical effort involved with this sort of infantry ops. Our gear weighs about 20 kilos (approx. 45 lbs), not including the ammunition. When wet, it weighs more. Patrolling for hours on end with the gear on, hopping on and off transportation and generally just existing with the kit on takes its toll.
Unfortunately, I do not have a heart rate monitor, it would have been interesting to know how many extra calories we burn in a low-intensity exercise like this.
Perhaps it was being constantly wet, not getting enough sleep or just bad luck, but after I got home, I got sick. Fever, running nose, feeling like I’ve unsuccessfully tried to swallow a cactus. It has been six days now and I am starting to feel better, but I will take a couple more days before I try running.
For GRR, this was a great reminder to ensure that my sleeping gear stays dry, and that temporary lack of sleep is not an issue for me. Also, it was great to notice how much easier everything was, now that I am generally in better condition than I was in my previous reserves training exercise!