Northstar LQS: Fully Cooked
“Crash” training worked. Sort of. By packing in the aerobic hours leading up to Northstar, I did get a big bump in fitness. I felt great throughout the race, made the time cut-offs, then was the second name called in the lottery. So finally, I’m off to Leadville!
Leadville Trail 100 August 13, 2016
I wasn’t fast, but I was smooth. My times for the first and second laps were very close. And even though I pushed hard the second lap knowing I was close on time, I still felt good. So crash training delivered the goods as promised.
It also delivered the “bads” as well as the goods. The risks of crash training are slipping over the thin line from “overreaching” which builds fitness, and overtraining, which erodes it. I didn’t rest quite enough after the hard endurance block before the race. I took enough days off to do well, but I needed a little more time absorb that training. I needed a few easy days on the bike to put it all together. I also should have done some more overt stress reduction during the block and as recovery after. Meaning I should have done some yoga and meditation to help everything along.
But none of that was clear during the race, because everything worked. I felt pretty beat up afterwards, but it was a race after all, that’s normal. My low back was pretty sore, which I attributed to 8 hours of pounding on an aluminum hardtail, but had other causes, more later. My pervious season’s hip flexor issue reappeared, but on the other side. After a week of barely doing anything, I eased back into triathlon training by doing a short morning run, and a short afternoon bike. Nothing like what I was doing in the pre-race block. All training done at MAF, and I kept it at the low end just to be careful. That crash block paid off, as I was definitely faster, even at the lower heart rate. I felt great.
Until I didn’t. My HRV scores looked a little wonky, but I thought it was OK. Then degradation set in. I got slower. A lot slower. I kept all my workouts short and strictly MAF. But I didn’t improve. My sleep didn’t seem to be working, plentiful though it was. The fatigue, while not extraordinary, just didn’t go away. It took me awhile to realize it was a form of overtraining. That often happens after a peak. The crash block, the long, hard race, and training afterwards dug a hole I fell into. What makes it so dangerous is that you feel so good, right before you fall in. The wonky HRV was a subtlety I hadn’t noticed before that showed by nervous system was out of whack, even though the software thought it was good. HRV is highly individual, so it takes some experience to be able to interpret the measurements in a relevant, personal way. Lesson learned. I turned to traditional Chinese medicine to help my recovery, I learned that my low back pain was not directly and only related to the MTB, but depressed “Kidney” function. (The organs in TCM are utitlized differently than in the West) A little self-diagnosis revealed the pattern.
Fortunately, Maffetone style training is beneficial. I continued to train, but always short, never over 90 min. and always under MAF. I didn’t want to lose fitness, and I didn’t get worse, so I plugged on. Some yoga, meditation, and qigong worked their magic on my nervous and endocrine systems, as well as the energetics as used by TCM.
It was a valuable learning experience. I’ve overtrained before, but this was different, and not so bad. My only regret was that I lost the enthusiasm for racing, and so missed out on some great fall races. But that lack of enthusiasm is a very important signal, and I’m glad I heeded it. I kept riding throughout the remainder of the dry fall weather, so I haven’t lost much fitness. And I have some good experience to draw on in preparing for Leadville.