Sunday, October 21, 2012

Recovery Lessons

The last thing I said in my previous post was that I would assess on Friday morning if I should do an easy or a faster effort that day, depending on how the legs felt. The problem with that approach is that you need to be absolutely honest with yourself; once you start arguing with yourself "ah sure it's not THAT bad, I'll be fine" it should set the alarm bells ringing straight away. Well, I didn't heed my own advice, stubbornly went ahead with a faster effort and knew pretty much straight away that I had been stupid.

The most important lesson Mystery Coach had hammered into me was that the base phase is all about recovery, both long term from your previous race as well as day-to-day recovery from training session to training session. Just one look at Friday's numbers shows what happens when you ignore that. The pace was slower than last week, though I can swear that the effort was at least the same. What's quite revealing is the low heart rate: I just was not able to raise the HR, it was about 5 bpm lower than last week, though, as I said, the perceived effort was the same. It would have been better to take it easy on Friday and leave the faster stuff for another morning. The way I did it I ended up with some mediocre pace and a lot of fatigue.

I was late for Saturday's group run. My thinking was that someone who gets up at 6 am every morning during the week won't need an alarm to get up at 8 on Saturday. That has been true every week up to now, but yesterday I overslept. Thankfully it wasn't too bad, I only missed the start by a minute and quickly caught up with the group.

For whatever reason, the pace for the group run was much sharper than usual, but that suited me just fine. Maybe it was because we had the ladies that had come 3th and 4th in the recent Valentia half marathon amongst us, or maybe they are all getting much fitter already. As always I added the runs to and from the meeting point, which gives me a decent mileage for the day, but towards the end I was definitely feeling the miles, another sign that I was behind in my recovery.

I wasn't exactly looking forward to today's long run, but felt that I had to do it. I was prepared to take it really easy, no matter how slow, and just get it done. The 20 miles were made tougher by the hills and the rather windy conditions, and with my legs feeling so fatigued the day before this had the potential to get very ugly.

Instead I was moving well from the word go, cruised over the hills on autopilot, pushed the effort a bit more on the flats and was back home in about 2 hours 30, feeling pretty damn good. I felt I could have done the same loop a second time, though I wasn't THAT tempted to test that theory. So, all of a sudden and without knowing why, I went from feeling like toast the one day to indefatigable the next. There clearly are still a few things about running that I have not figured out yet.

And to finish the post with something completely different, Shea spent the weekend creating a trailer to a movie and editing the pieces together. I don't think there are any actual plans to film the whole thing, but what he did already looks rather awesome, though I freely admit to being biased.

19 Oct
10 miles, 1:09:25, 6:57 pace, HR 153
20 Oct
16 miles, 2:02:47, 7:40 pace, HR 145
21 Oct
20 miles, 2:30:45, 7:32 pace, HR 151
Weekly Mileage: 84.8


  1. That is a serious weeks running. 84 miles and a 20 miler today!!!! It's early days yet but keep it steady and a marathon PB is on the cards

    1. Marathon PB? More like every kind of PB. He's in the 6:xx for 150 bpm, so in a 10k race this should work out as sub 6 min pace, so I reckon a low 37 is on the cards.

  2. Hi Thomas, Do you take any gels for your long training runs? Do you eat before or just wake up and go?

    1. No breakfast and no gels. I drink plenty of water before I go running, that's it. I never carry anything with me.

  3. Love the trailer - get him to remake "The loneliness of the long distance runner".

  4. Epic post! At least you're aware of the need for recovery (unlike many runners I know!). I was reading today the marathon schedule from Canova in Running Times which had 3 (or 4?) recovery days in a row after one particularly hard session.