Methods of Endurance Training: Results Part 5

Ok, so having come through my recent bout with Overtraining, Overreaching and depression, I finally got myself back on some sort of track; as discussed in Part 2 of that series, with a mere 3.5 weeks to prepare, I targeted the final race of the season, an inline half-marathon on what looked to be a decently fast course in Houston.

Had things gone differently this summer, I’d have entered the marathon where I belong but I simply didn’t have time to get my fitness to a sufficient level so the half it was.  It was far more important for me to finish this screw-up of a season on a high point than anything else.  I’d rather race the weenie distance and finish strong then race the full distance and have a horrible experience.

Preparation

While I had maintained some aerobic fitness during my summer of depression, my fitness was definitely down (for example, during the summer I had just been about to hit level 17 on the EFX at easy aerobic levels; I was currently down at level 14 at the same heart rate when I started) and with a mere 3.5 weeks to prepare (and not having been on my skates in months), I had to strike a balance between getting myself ready and avoiding putting myself back into the hole with too much training (or pushing too hard).

As I mentioned previously, under a different set of circumstances, this is a place where interval training would be appropriate to get the mostest and fastest fitness gains in the time I had but I simply couldn’t risk that level of intensity in my training.  So an aerobic training based approach was the plan.  It had worked before and I had no doubt it would work again.  The question would only be if I had enough time to get at least one adaptation (usually takes 3-4 weeks).

I’ve always been mostly a specificity kind of guy but under these conditions, it becomes even more important: the primary goal of my training was getting back on my skates and getting my distance/duration tolerance and technique back where it needed to be.  I used non-specific methods such as the EFX for general fitness although I was careful not to load it too heavily.

Also, finally, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I finally invested in a single speed road bike and started doing some easy aerobic rides on that (I worked up to an hour at around 145 heart rate; the main issue I have to deal with right now is chafing).  I went ahead and kept up a maintenance lifting routine on Mondays and Thursdays and, given how that impacts on my skating, that actually did a lot to determine when and how much I skated.

In contrast to my usual approach and what I had done during the summer until I cratered, I was much more flexible in approaching my training.  Normally I set a schedule and will miss a workout over my own dead body; but I had seen how well that worked this summer so I wasn’t going that route again.

My primary goal was to skate roughly three times per week with a goal of adding 10 minutes every other workout.  My biggest limiter there was my low back which just got torn up.  The two months I had spent not skating de-adapted it completely.   But there’s really only one thing to do in that situation which is this: suck it up.  So that’s what I did.

The other workouts were done on a catch as catch can basis and I sort of ended up in a schedule of two days on (with 4 workouts over those 2 days) a day off, 3 days on (usually 5 total workouts) and then a day off.  That usually included three skating workouts, 2 lifting workouts, 2 bike rides and 2-3 EFX workouts (often one or two done around threshold intensity).  I really hope that math adds up correctly.

I ended up skating on Monday and Thursday before heading to the weight room at 1pm and then usually went out again on Saturday.  Sure this made lifting a real chore but this is how I rolled in SLC and it saved me having to warm-up again.  So I’d skate until about 12:30, go to the gym and get a protein bar, change clothes, lift for an hour and a half (I dawdle a lot), eat again and then get on with my day.  If I did another workout on that day, it was usually around 7pm and easy aerobic.

My skating speeds were a bit down with a higher HR than I’d like (it’s also windy season in Austin) but my other general aerobic fitness came back pretty quickly with my workload on the EFX rapidly going back to close to where it had been before all this nonsense started.  I hit my goal progression and did a full 55′ workout a week before the race.  Since I expect to be finished around 40 minutes or so, this is more than enough over-distance work.

But overall I hit pretty much all of my workouts, never felt like I was exhausted or didn’t want to be training (being more flexible with my schedule and moving another set of workouts outdoors on the bike helped a lot with this) and that was the most important thing.  I was as ready as I was going to be.

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The Final Week

I hadn’t planned any sort of major taper, I simply hadn’t put in the training time to need it.  But I did want to be as fresh and recovered as possible for the race so here’s what my final week looked like.

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Day AM PM
Monday 45′ Skate + Weights 60′ Aerobic EFX
Tuesday 60′ easy bike ride 40′ Threshold EFX
Wednesday Off  
Thursday 20′ Skate 45′ Aerobic EFX
Friday Off  
Saturday 20′ Aerobic EFX  
Sunday Race  

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My primary goal was to be rested, mainly my lower back which was just getting torn up.  This training block reminded me why I avoided back squats during my time in Salt Lake City, trying to do them after spending nearly an hour hunched over is murderous.  I did them (after snatches and clean and jerk) but I didn’t enjoy them; I dropped RDL’s completely since they were just tearing me up. Then again, I wasn’t really enjoying lifting in a global sense anyhow; it was just a matter of enjoying it less since my low back was torched.

In any case, as you can see I just did a very gradual taper down with my last long skate on Monday, a harder aerobic workout on Tuesday night and then easy the rest of the way reducing my volume as I went.  As happened the last go around, I saw a great HR to workload response (hitting level 17 at the high-end of the aerobic range) on my final hard aerobic workout telling me I had trained just long enough to get an aerobic adaptation and would hopefully be ready for Houston.

My legs felt good during my Thursday skate (indicating that any fatigue was dissipating and my taper was on track) and had it not been insanely windy, my speed to HR would have been where I wanted it.  Demonstrating more common sense than I usually display, I skipped the weight workout on Thursday which is why it doesn’t show up in the chart.   The Saturday morning workout was just to loosen up my legs a bit and make sure that circadian rhythms and stuff were right.

As per my two previous races, I had done my normal go be social thing on Thursday and while I intended to get plenty of sleep on Friday, I didn’t sleep well.I hadn’t actually gotten as much sleep as I should have Friday night which is unusual and potentially problematic.

The Longhorn Open powerlifting meet was actually that Saturday so I spent some time watching folks from Hyde Park Gym lifting big weights before making the drive to Houston to find my hotel, find the race course (I get lost easily and would rather get lost the day before the race than the morning of), get my race packet and make sure my equipment was ready.  I was flat out exhausted.

I went and got my racing packet and, for reasons I won’t detail here, was a bit underwhelmed by the event overall.  I know this is a small sport that’s dying day by day but, c’mon; a lot of this has to do with the events being run poorly. In any case, I went to the hotel, drank a lot to try to ensure I’d be hydrated and slept like a rock.

And how’d it go?  Tune in Friday to see.

Read Methods of Endurance Training: Results Part 6.

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