Friday 7 February 2014

We learn best by making mistakes - never be afraid to fail; be terrified.

Sprint finish I lost at Pilgrim Challenge after 33ish miles

I’ve read a lot about training and recovery and fatigue and overtraining and having not really ever trained or raced hard I’d not actually come near really feeling tired or the effects of being tired.  And I mean *properly* tired, not just a bit sleepy but deep, crushing tired.  And the tired that is related to significant physical damage to muscles that will take months to repair.  I hadn’t experienced it until now.

I was, for want of a better term, utterly thick and I completely under-estimated the run last Sunday.  Having rocked up and mashed around some longish races over the last few months, I got blasé about it and thought 33 miles at an easy pace would be something my body could absorb and get back to hard training in a week.  I got a glimpse of the wrongness during the run, when I felt sleepy for none of the usual reasons and then when I found it mentally very difficult not to simply pull out when I really should have done (around CP2 or 3 if I’m honest).  I mentioned to @abradypus that I was thinking that perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to carry on, but convinced myself that it’d be weak and feeble to DNF so soldiered on and finished (without coming last of even the people who only did Day 2 like we did).

In hindsight, this is probably the biggest mistake I’ve made since I took up sport with any intent in 2010.

My legs are mush.  Literally mush:
If the training session or race caused muscle stiffness, it can be assumed that there was muscle damage with elevated levels of creatine-kinase activity in the blood.  Creatine kinase is an enzyme that usually occurs within the muscle cell - when it is measured in the blood, it means that the muscle-cell membrane is damaged and the enzyme has leaked out of the muscle cell into the blood.  After an ultramarathon, muscle pain subsides only after about seven days, whereas creatine-kinase activity in the blood reduces after five days (Burgess and Lambert 2008).  Muscle function and neuromuscular coordination takes weeks to recover fully after an ultra marathon (Chambers et al. 1998), whereas muscle fibers may take months to regenerate completely (Warhol et al. 1985).
The disturbing point about gauging long-term recovery is that pain is not a good guide of the state of repair of the muscle.  It stands to reason that subjecting the muscles to hard training sessions before they have fully recovered is not desirable.  For these reasons, adequate recovery after training and racing is important for optimal adaptation.”*

(* -

That would be fine if I’d just done the one, but having battered in a second with only 20 days in between, I’ve significantly compounded the problem by doing something really quite strenuous and extended when the recovery from the first race was only part-way through.  Not only am I back to square one with recovery, but it’s going to take longer and I have to be very careful to balance the mental stress of not doing intense training sessions (as they would not only not have the desired training effect, but they would actively impede the recovery process) and panicking that I’m “never” going to be able to perform as I’d like, vs actually helping the recovery happen.

If I was actually a runner and had been running lots of miles for many years, my body might have adapted better to recovering from this sort of event, but I’m not and I haven’t.  I’m an ex-obese, new to sport person who runs quite infrequently.

So. Priorities for now are sleep, keeping stress low, eating well, avoiding intense running (and cycling) sessions, walking a lot and actually starting to swim a bit.  And remembering that there is a limit and I just found it.

1 comment:

  1. It's good to know you're a human after all! :) Enjoy the walks and the swimmimg, and keep reminding yourself that it's what your body needs.