Monday, February 22, 2010

Know Thy Body

The subtitle for this post "could be" Triathlon Taoism 101. Last week I was getting ready to go to the track with the Wed night RunTex group. I teach a short yoga class after this workout which is in retrospect the only reason I should have been there.

Aside from teaching the yoga class, I like doing this group simply because it forces me to go to the track at least once a week. I think I was on the track maybe 3 times all last year. But there was a reason for that. I wasn't running for most of it so there was no need to be on the track. At any rate that isn't the point of this post. The point is as I was standing in the store before the warm up jog up to the School for the Deaf where the workout is held, I look at my heart rate monitor and it is reading 98bpm! I walk 20 or so feet to the bathroom and come back its 121! It should be like 55~60bpm at this time of day if I'm standing around. Crap!

I'm pretty annoyed by this because there can only be 3 reasons for it. I'm nervous - I've had this happen before races and it usually goes away when the gun goes off. I'm panicked (see nervous, but on a scale of 1 - 10 a 10) and that has only happened once with my standing heart rate coming in at about 140, so not applicable here. Or I'm fighting off an infection of some sort. Its probably the latter because I've been helping a sick friend lately or I've been exposed to something at work (also highly likely) or both. Crap!

Normally something like this would not bother me much. I'd just go home and rest. If I'm going to come down with something (which pretty much NEVER happens anyway) I'd rather it be this time of year when I'm not racing than later when I am. The only reason it is bothering me now is because I want to find out what pace I can run at MAF. I've been waiting for the last 3 weeks to do this test and the weather has been uncooperative serving up large doses of rain and cold. So I was there, the track was there, the weather was cooperating, I had my HR monitor. Resting HR? 98bmp! Crap!

So what did I do? I go to the track and do the test anyway. Why? Because I wasn't going to be running hard and I would get data for when my system was understress. I also went because I want that to be a weekly test and I wanted it to become a habit. And I think on a deeper level, it was sort of the sense that I needed to accept where my fitness was at that moment, so I could start learning to accept it at any given moment. The funny thing was, after warming up, and struggling through the first mile keeping my heart rate under MAF (I had to walk quite a bit the first mile), the second and third mile got progressively faster and I wound up averaging 10:35 pace at a 144 HR for 3 miles. That really surprised me because, to be honest, that is about what I expected without the jacked up resting HR. And granted if I throw out the first mile and only focus on the last 2, my pace drops considerably to get me that overall average at the end. But my heart rate sticks right at 144 even though I was running faster.

I'm more familiar with that type of response on the bike because I've been more consistent in training this way while riding. One of the things I've noticed over time, which is why I've been able to ride at lower heart rates without becoming overly concerned about losing fitness, is for me slower movements seem to lead to the discovery of more efficient movement patterns. And aside from the changes that happen chemically in the body allowing for more efficient fuel usage, discovering these efficient patterns of movement can also be beneficial. I think this is what happened on the track. I certainly didn't speed (this term is relative) up because I was running "harder." So I think I'm going to explore this more as I run more this year.

The rest of the week I rested swimming a bit and doing a couple of yoga classes. I was sleepy all week and took that as a sign that I indeed was fighting off something. I kept my training minimal and slept as much as possible, going to bed as early as 8pm some nights. I think sleeping more and my diet kept whatever it was from developing into something nasty. My friend had a fever for almost 10 days.

Oh yeah, the Taoist theme for this post could be:

"Deal with it before it happens
Set things in order before there is confusion..."


Tri To Do It All said...

I like what you have to say. I have just started tracking my HR this year so this is good info.

Mark said...

Great post Fred.I have never really gone into any event without a little anxiety. I think the only exception was my first half-iron. I did not have any expectations yet. I was relaxed. I just wanted to finish and ended up exceeding my expectations because of my more relaxed mental state. Now, I get nervous because I have some sort of idea of how well I SHOULD perform. Nonsense I tell you! I think in your case it is probably like being super-energized before game seven of the NBA playoffs. You know... you start playing and all the nerves start to go away. You would probably score a triple double.