Sunday, April 30, 2017

Lessons In Recovery

It's one of MC's favourite sayings, that how you recover from a workout says more about your conditioning than how the workout went.

My workout was the Longford ultra. It had gone very well, much better than expected. Now I had to recover from it.

I launched into my standard tried and tested recovery protocol. The day after the ultra I hobbled through 4 uncomfortable miles when I would have preferred to wrap myself in cotton wool, but that's the tried and tested part of the recovery program. Gentle exercise significantly speeds up recovery compared to total rest, as counter-intuitive as it may sound at first.

I kept taking it very easy for several more days, which of course included skipping the weekly mountain run. The legs felt better with each day but I could still sense some fatigue in the quads, which is a bit strange because during the ultra itself it was primarily the hamstrings that were aching. On Friday I felt sufficiently brave to launch into another workout, the usual Fast Friday 7 miles with the HR close to 155, though I was prepared to pull the plug any time, depending how the legs felt.

Well, as it turns out, the legs felt much better than anticipated. I have never managed to surprise the coach with a workout, until now that is. Even he did not expect me to cruise through those mile the way I did, though in all honesty I was even more surprised to post better numbers than 2 and 3 weeks ago.

Turns out, though, it wasn't all as rosy as it looked at first. Saturday was the second part of the back-to-back workout. Nine easy miles followed by 6 at 7:15 pace, or a little bit faster if I felt like it. It looked easy enough, that's slower and for a shorter distance than Friday's fast part, but once I started the workout I could immediately sense that the legs were compromised. If you've heard about the central governor theory, I felt it today as the CG left me with a very limited number of muscle fibres to work with. As hard as I tried, 7:21 pace was as good as it got and I only managed to elevate my HR to 160 on uphill sections, otherwise the legs just would not respond no matter how hard I tried. That's the thing with those back-to-back workouts, they mercilessly show up deficient recovery, so it's back to another week of easy running.

24 Apr
5 miles, 42:35, 8:31 pace, HR 136
25 Apr
5 miles, 42:20, 8:28 pace, HR 133
26 Apr
7 miles, 56:51, 8:07 pace, HR 136
27 Apr
7 miles, 54:53, 7:50 pace, HR 144
28 Apr
10 miles, 1:13:07, 7:18 pace, HR 150
   incl.7 @ 7:04 (HR 153)
29 Apr
15 miles, 1:55:38, 7:42 pace, HR 147
   incl.6 @ 7:21 (HR 156)
30 Apr
7 miles, 58:28, 8:21 pace, HR 136

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