Paying the Piper

I’ve noticed that one of the misconceptions that some people have about training is that the purpose of the training is simply to allow you to complete the event.  Naturally, we hope that is the effect that training will have.  But if competing in a multisport event is not simply something to cross off your bucket list (and hey, if it is, that is great) but a way of life, then a major part of training is that you aren’t working just to be able to complete the event, but to be able to recover from it and do the next event.  So, what happens when you don’t train that hard for an event and are nevertheless able to pull a PR out of your capacious buttocks?  Do you sit there, basking in the glow of your PRness?  Well, of course you do.  But you also feel like ass for days afterwards.

Good christ but I have been sore for the last couple of days.  Really sore.  I can’t actually remember the last time I hurt so much; certainly it wasn’t after doing the Ironman.  Everything in my legs feels like it has been disconnected and replaced with lead weights.  I am going out of my way to avoid stairs.  Sitting down is a dodgy proposition because there is a 50% chance I’m going to need someone to help me get out again.  If there is no one else around I’m terrified I’ll have to stay seated for hours.  Wait, maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. . .

Therefore the official verdict on my “not training” training plan is: don’t try this at home.

In the Zone?
Looking over the data from my Garmin for the race I noticed something puzzling.  My average HR for each of the laps was as follows:  154, 160, 162, 162, 163, 166, 172 (final mile).  On the one hand, this is great.  It shows that I ran pretty consistently without HR to guide me and was able to balance perceived effort against pace.

Here’s the thing though: this was all in zone 4.  The entire race.  At the moment I’m operating on a zone 4, according to a VO2Max test, that runs from 153 to 163 beats per minute.  That test was quite a while ago, before I started to train for Ironman, so it is a reasonable bet that my zones have shifted some.  However, they will probably only have shifted a few beats.  I’m pretty certain, for example, that my current low zone 3 is now high zone 2, since I can run long distances there and recover well afterwards.  When I last had my VO2 done, there had been a shift of 2-3 beats since the first time I had it done.

But given that the broad definition of zone 4 is that it is good for about an hour’s exertion (or, alternatively, represents your 10k or 10 mile pace), how is it possible that I comfortably camped out in the mid to high zone 4 for nearly two hours?  That doesn’t seem right, surely.  I’d be grateful if anyone has any insight concerning this issue.


4 responses to “Paying the Piper

  1. HR drift… mine always does when I race. I recall doing the entire Shamrock Marathon last year in zone 4 (but I was not running zone 4 pace, that’s for sure!).

  2. In an interesting coincidence I recently ran a marathon (well, mile, 10k, marathon in one weekend) after rigidly following my no training marathon training program. To my disappointment, it worked. No lesson learned.

  3. I’ve experienced HR drift before, but as the name implies it usually comes on gradually in the later part of the race; I’ll feel fine but my HR will look a little high. I’ve also noticed that my Garmin sometimes throws a hissy fit at the start of a workout, and claims that my HR is 220 or something like that. Then it settles down after about 15 minutes. I guess I’m really not going to know much until I get re-tested, which I probably won’t do until towards the end of this season.

    This strange result, however, makes me even more glad that I didn’t have my HR showing on my watch; I would have convinced myself that I was on the verge of dying and probably would have run a lot more slowly!

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