Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Listen to your body

Lydiard underpinned all his training advice with "listen to your body". Similarly, Mike's Mystery Coach says, "don't be a slave to a heart rate monitor. Use it as a guide to see how you respond to different workouts."

Well, these words are ringing in my ears at the moment as I try to figure out what is going on with my body and how to adjust my training. The simplest analysis and solution is that I think that I might be accumulating fatigue and in need of some freshening up. Which is probably no great surprise after the last post.

This morning's upper aerobic run was a bit of a disaster. Just as in recent upper aerobic runs, I had to work really hard to get my heart rate up, and this morning I was even breathing hard. It felt like a tempo run. Then, once I did manage to get up over 147, I started feeling heavy and the pace slipped and heart rate quickly followed it down. It was just physically too hard to run at the pace required to achieve a heart rate over 147. I don't quite get it because the idea is that when you are stressed you have an elevated heart rate, and as you fatigue your heart rate stays high...in fact you have to slow to keep the heart rate at the same level. Well, I didn't have to force myself to slow, I couldn't really help it, but not with heart rate racing away either. When I slowed, through sheer inability to keep the legs moving at pace, my heart rate also fell. It was just as though my system was saying "No! we are not going to run at that pace, fella!"

Resting heart rate this morning was 41. It has varied between 39 and 43 over the past couple of weeks since I started tracking it, so there is nothing there to suggest serious over-training or anaemia or anything. Maybe it is just tired legs.

Mystery Coach talks about the need for balanced training, typified by this statement on Mike's blog today: "It is better in the conditioning phase to see 1.25 hours and 45 minutes the next day than 1.5 hours and the next day off."

Maybe I have reached a bit too far trying to hit those numbers from the Hadd document. Maybe I am just going that bit too far or bit too hard to allow enough recovery. Maybe I am just being too much of a slave to the heart rate monitor (and Hadd) and I should put it aside for a few days and just run to how I feel. If I had tried to run to a target pace today, I probably would have found it tougher than expected, perhaps slower than target. I'd put it down to some residual fatigue and have a couple of easy days before making another attempt at that pace.

So, I think that's all I can do here too. I will take tomorrow morning off and do the Hadd heart rate test and some easy distance tomorrow night. I might be forced to take Thursday off completely because of an all-day meeting in Tsukuba, and then I'll perhaps have an easy run Friday morning and then another crack at an upper aerobic run on Friday evening (to see what difference morning vs evening makes). Seems about the best way forward. Listen to your body. Is it saying have a step-back week? Probably.

But right now, Hadd's theoretical HRmarathon (160ish) versus my envisaged marathon pace (4:15/km which I am hitting at HR147 but not maintaining) just doesn't make sense at all.


Ewen said...

Steve, my take on the situation is that fatigue/tiredness from recent training is preventing you from being able to easily get the HR up to Upper Aerobic rate.

You had a struggle 30k on Sunday at the end of your biggest ever week, an hour yesterday plus a short race. You were just 'stuffed' today. You should be able to do the session if not 'stuffed'.

Are you balancing the extra running with more rest/sleep?

As far as the marathon @ 160HR goes... as you reminded me, that's 'fully trained' (whatever that means). Maybe it means running 90 mile weeks for 12 weeks then a 3 week taper? Hadd says marathon pace can be 87%. 81% for you should be easy to maintain for 10 miles. For me, 87% is a tad slower than half marathon pace, so maintainable for 10 miles with some effort. If I was fatigued or tired going into such a run I wouldn't be able to do it!

2P said...

I like Ewens hypothesis but I'm also going to suggest two other possibilities - maybe you just had one of those completely anomolous days....

Or the sustained training has seriously depleted some mineral or vitamin and your body is struggling to produce enough ATP to feed the mitochondria - the most likely suspects would be B group vitamins and magnesium.

This would explain the low heart rate as (presuming you are not diabetic) there should be enough sugar in your system but your body requires a combination of oxygen and some other vitamins and minerals to produce ATP - so if the other vitamins and minerals are missing then there is no demand for the oxygen, therefore no reason for your heart rate to go up and the feeling of tired heavy lethargic legs.

I'm not sure I've articulated that well but anyhoo a dose of vit B complex and magnesium couldn't hurt :)

Robert Song said...

You probably have read this post by the Mystery Coach before but maybe worth rereading his views on depressed HR.


Dan said...

Everyone gets to offer their theories, so here is mine . . . I agree with the idea that your legs are tired, even if your heart is fine. When I was training for NY and doing high mileage, every fourth week or so I would drastically curtail mileage in order to keep my legs fresh. I would look at my schedule for the week and then only run four times: do the long run, two speed work outs, and one easy run, and rest the other three days. Then I resumed the normal schedule for the next few weeks. I think that made a big difference because I could tell that some times my aerobic capacity was getting ahead of what my legs could take. Give your legs a needed break.

Ewen said...

I like Dan's advice, although it may be hard to take if you're hung up on replicating a few 130k weeks.

If you want to run those sort of kilometres, I'd suggest either bringing it up more gradually (not going from 110 to 133 in one week), or doing most days of the 133 at lower aerobic HRs for a few weeks then bringing in more UA runs when your body starts to handle the higher kms.

Here is the article Robert Song was talking about... more or less says being unable to push the HR up indicates non-recovery - which could be helped by the B vitamins/magnesium that 2P suggests.

By the way, I really think you're aiming low with an "envisaged marathon pace" of 4:15s. With your ability, you should be aiming at 4:01s.

Tesso said...

This is all so interesting, so much to take in. I've been contemplating using my HRM but I think you may have scared me off ;-)