Thursday, October 03, 2013

Down In A Hole

Oops, is it really four days already since my last update? Problem is the same as usual, I’m running out of things to say, at least things that I haven’t said plenty of times before.

The good news is that after a lot of slow easy short runs I can finally feel that I’m starting to climb out of that hole that I managed to dig myself into. The legs had not felt the same ever since that 17 mile run death march 11 days ago, but today, finally, I started to feel good again during a run, hallelujah.

Looking back at the data for the past three days I can see that my HR has been higher than I would have expected. I was not sure where that was coming from, even compared to last week this is elevated and I’m not fighting off any infection as far as I can tell and I am not unduly stressed. But MC seems to take this as a very good sign and managed to alleviate my worries. Funnily enough the data for Tuesday and Thursday is virtually identical, and yet I felt fairly crap on Tuesday and great this morning, which goes to show that HRM data alone only tells you part of the story.

The one thing that was particularly noticeable on Tuesday was the number of midges out there, it was just unreal. There must have been millions of the little tormentors beside the lake, for a while I was running with my mouth closed to stop inhaling the beasts and I still ended up with a few of them down my throat, never mind being covered in a few dozen of them when I got home. Yuck.

So, with the legs finally feeling better, I am actually looking forward to running again, something that was not always true over the last couple of weeks. I still told Niamh that I would skip the Valentia half marathon. As much as I’d love to run it, I just know I would start racing as soon as the gun went off and fall right back into that overtraining hole I’m presently trying to climb out of. Maybe next year.

Ohm and the Achilles feels much, much better. The discomfort is completely gone, and the stiffness first thing in the morning is almost gone. I'm pretty pretty hopeful that this might resolve itself completely sooner rather than later.

30 Sep
8 miles, 1:04:24, 8:03 pace, HR 138
1 Oct
8 miles, 1:02:32, 7:49 pace, HR 143
2 Oct
8 miles, 1:03:22, 7:55 pace, HR 141
3 Oct
8 miles, 1:02:35, 7:49 pace, HR 143


  1. As a new runner-blogger, I appreciate what you have to say, Thomas, even if you've said it before:) Looking at your marathon and ultra history, you have a lot to offer to us newbies. It sounds that you're out of that hole!

  2. I wonder if your crash an burn a little while back was a sign that your body wasn't fully repaired after the 100 miler, and the 10k race compounded it.

    From what I've picked up about physiology of muscles is that we have satellite stem cells around our muscles that can get activated after large stresses. These can help repair fibres muscles or create whole new fibres. New fibres form as aerobic fast twitch fibres and then get specialized according to stimulus, also fibres tend towards fast twitch if we completely rest.

    It's quite easy to imagine that these repaired or new muscles fibres won't have all the internal machinery perfected, including a lack of a full quotient of mitochondria. These repaired or new fibres simply won't right away have the aerobic efficiency that original muscle fibres had. Scar tissue is also likely to be hang around for a while as well.

    Getting the re-factored muscles back into good aerobic shape will need nurturing, diving right into faster workouts could push the new fibres to be fast twitch, while doing longer workouts before the fibres are well trained for aerobic metabolism could result in more damage.

    This is all just pontification, I'm not a biologist, just a engineer/coder with an inquiring mind so the details are likely to be off. It does sound like a plausible story for what has happened to yourself.

    MC's suggestion that you have to go back to aerobic base building with lots of easy runs after fast race reason or big ultra races would seem to be fit well with nurturing the muscle fibres back into good aerobic health. From what you are reporting it does look to be doing the trick.

    The experience you've had in recovering from the 100 miler mirrors to what happened to me after the Devil, albeit in a rather scaled down case. It really felt my legs were trashed for a week, and after two weeks got back into gentle training but felt really unfit - even an easy pace was hard, muscle were sore the next day even after short runs. Recovery has been slow, but I'm now running well again. Patience with doing lots of gentle and modest length runs seems to be the therapy that the muscles need.

  3. Glad to hear you are getting out of the hole. Have you ever tried Heart Rate Variability (HRV) to gauge if you are overtraining? You can get it on the iPhone now.