After another up-and-down week (with last week also being up-and-down), I’m starting to figure out exactly what is going on. This week I’ve learned a few important things. Primarily, I’m starting to narrow in on how much intensity is too much.
It doesn’t seem to matter how strong I think I am, or how well a run goes, or how large my aerobic engine is getting. If I do a hard run workout that goes really well, guaranteed I’ll feel ten times worse the next day than if I were to do an equally hard bike workout that goes equally well. Tuesday I had a really great long run. It felt good, was really long, and was fast for the distance, for me. It ended up being ~18 km on a pace of 5:07. A total TSS of 157 on the run. I felt awesome. And I was really happy with this run.
Until the next day. I had my compression socks on after the run through the night until morning. That does help, even though I understand the science to be somewhat suspect. But it definitely helps with the recovery. I got up Wednesday morning at 5AM on schedule, plans to ride TR’s ‘Looking Glass’ (a workout I actually failed last week, probably for the exact same reason). But I felt like garbage. Instead of working out, I spent the morning with coffee and my feet up, and some extra stretching and such. Postponed that ride to the evening, which turned out to be the right decision. In the evening the ride was grindy but actually relatively decent. Then a swim, which was awful.
Last week, I started listening to a podcast called Crushing Iron. It’s…. decent. I like that they’re frank and upfront about the good and the bad. I’ve only listened to a few. But anyhow the point is that in one of them they were trying to emphasize that you only have one aerobic system. It doesn’t matter if you’re swimming, biking, or running. You will still use the same aerobic system. And then it hit me. Doing huge workouts like I did on Tuesday and then expecting your body to do even reasonable things the next day is just not going to work. Even Wednesday, I managed to get through my workouts ok but they were definitely tougher than they should have been.
By Friday I was feeling better again. Did my ride in the morning and a run in the evening. The ride went well, just a light recovery ride, but the run was supposed to be 12 km of a decent workout. I decided though that I’d cut my intensity instead. 15km on a slow pace and feeling great the next day. My pace through that run was around 5:28/km, and I was happy with that. The big happy with this run though was that my heart rate stayed towards the bottom end of zone 2 for almost all of it, and I still broke some Strava segment PR’s that I hadn’t re-run in a long time.
Saturday, I got up and did my 2 hr ride. TR’s Wright Peak -1. Again focusing just on hitting the power targets rather than seeing how high & long & can hold above them. Turns out that’s a good strategy, because I nudged the 90 minute record up by 1 watt. And I feel good sitting on the couch writing this afterwards. Nothing to complain about. Quick results by working slower. And again, big gain here in the lowness of my heart rate. It was objectively lower than I had expected it would be through the entire ride. Felt great.
So, the major takeaway is that I need to better manage the intensity of my workouts. In particular, the running intensity needs to be better managed. I’ll work on that!