Friday, May 01, 2015

Too Much Too Soon?

I guess this is a post just for the sake of providing an update - I don't actually have an awful lot of things to say.

This is a graph of my VDOT values during the month of April. It's a very simple graph, taking into account pace and HR, ignoring things like weather conditions, course elevation or even distance covered, all of which do have an effect on HR but are ignored for the sake of simplicity.

The first 2 dots are before Turin (and actually quite low - when I'm in super top shape the numbers easily exceed 60), the drop off a cliff is obviously due to me running for 134 miles. As you can see, the graph then climbs up steadily, if not evenly, after literally being off the scale at first. I can expect further improvements all throughout May and beyond, plotting my gradual recovery from that effort. It also shows just how much there is still yo do. My VDOT at the moment is about 50. It will take some time and work to get back to 60!

The drop off after previous 24 hour races was never anywhere near as bad, btw. 49 or 50 was as bad as it ever got, up to now. I really must have pushed myself exceptionally hard in Turin. I'm not sure if that should be a reason to be proud or if it should start sounding some alarm bells.

I finally managed to run sub-8 pace on Wednesday and Thursday, though at the expense of a rather high HR. I did do a double take both times when I saw the HR numbers; on both occasions I had thought I had run at a rather easy effort, just running at the pace that came naturally without pushing it. Thing is, if it's just the watch reporting a high effort then I dismiss it, putting it down as one of those funny things that happen shortly after a major race. But on Friday my legs told me the same message, they were heavy and unwilling and every single step was a mini-struggle. Later that day in the office they were clearly tired and even hurting a bit - I need to be more careful. Even though I could have sworn I had been running easily every morning, I can now tell that things aren't quite so.

I guess most of all I need to be patient. Very patient.

28 Apr
8 miles, 1:04:04, 8:00 pace, HR 150
29 Apr
8 miles, 1:03:04, 7:53 pace, HR 150
30 Apr
8 miles, 1:03:33, 7:57 pace, HR 151
1 May
8 miles, 1:04:50, 8:06 pace, HR 147


  1. I'm still deep in recovery from last weeks Fling, legs still feel a bit trashed even a week on. My HR was pretty low though all week till yesterday it was suddenly 7 bpm higher for the same 10 min/mile pace. No clue as to why things changed. Haven't run today to figure out what will happen next. Nervous system playing games? Immune system/base metabolism going up and down?

    In your case it sounds like you did quite a bit of damage to your muscles and cardiovascular system, and it's just taking an extended period to repair it all. I suspect when we go really catabolic during an ultra the mitochronidia and fat process enzymes are amongst the muscle tissue recycled for fuel. These have to be rebuilt from scratch, along with repair of the rest of the muscle fibres.

    Fingers crossed the legs will bounce back too.

  2. You're doing terrifically well, Thomas. Be patient. Tough, I know, but you realize, alone, what a stupendous effort you put into that race, and the fact that it's going to take quite a while to completely bounce back.

  3. It's still very early days! Mid May should see more of a recovery. You don't need to be schooled on how to aid recovery but perhaps it's worth mentioning that early nights & 8-9 hours sleep a night will set your body on the right path to recovery. I'm sure you'll be back on form long before spartathon.

  4. Hi Thomas, its good to see you recovering well. I ve got quick one: how do you calculate VDOT for certain day?

    1. Tomasz, I got a spreadsheet from MC years ago that has tables in it to convert HR/pace into a VDOT number. It is configured for me and would therefore be useless for anyone else. I think there is a similar but generic spreadsheet here, but I don't know if that's any good.

  5. Interesting data Thomas. No doubt running for a national team motivated you to push harder than normal. Another month or two is my guess.

  6. You are doing well. I have never developed data and maybe this is a mistake of mine.
    I see you are going to race to Greece. I did it and it was a great experience.
    In my agenda there is a race in Ireland in the week end of the rugby match Ireland - Italy.