The Deload

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As I’ve mentioned in prior blog posts, going into this season I have some big goals that required some big alterations to my modus operandi.  I worked hard with Max and Pat to come up with a training plan very much tailored to my specific needs, have been diligently working to create purpose and intentions in even the most mundane of workouts (looking at you 60 minute afternoon double pole), and have made listening to my body a significant priority.

Last year I suffered a little bit from what I’m now calling an invincibility complex.  Through out the summer and fall months I was continuously getting positive feedback in time trials and workouts that I couldn’t possibly do enough.  I added 30 minutes here and 45 minutes there, generally gave into the desire to push just a little harder on every, single interval, and all the while assumed that I couldn’t possibly be broken by any of it.  How could something that is making me fitter possibly make me slower?

Turns out it can, and it did.  The “tireds” (a Sophie Caldwell term) happen when you least expect them, and when you would really rather do without them.  So, going into this year I wanted to really stay on top of my tireds.

So when Max introduced me to the WHOOP company, I was immediately intrigued.  In short, my whoop watch takes 100 heart beat measurements per second all day and all night.  From that data it gives me my daily strain, and calculates how much sleep I should aim to get.  Then, while I’m sleeping, it determines my resting heart rate as well as my heart rate variability (click on link for more info on that).  From all of that information (including my overall sleep quality), the Whoop provides me with a daily recovery score.  This ranges from 0% to 100% (neither of which I have actually seen) recovery, and from there gives a recommended daily strain.

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My recovery and strain from the last two weeks. As you can see, I’ve been pushing my body pretty hard to finish out this block. This is evidenced by the “space between”- the difference in what my recovery score indicates I should hit for a daily strain, and what I have been hitting.

 

While understanding that you can’t live, die, and train by the Whoop…it sure has been interesting.  Some things aren’t surprising- like after a rest day I typically have my highest recovery scores.  Or after a day of hard intensity and strength I typically have my lowest recovery scores.

And perhaps least surprisingly of all…I am NOT invincible.  Training is designed to put a stress on your body, and then with ample recovery you bounce back at a higher level of fitness than before.  But without this rest, you just start getting more tired and more tired.  And then feeling tired becomes your norm, and when it’s time to really get going (i.e. winter racing) you simply cannot.

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My Whoop telling me what I already know, but always need to hear (sometimes from more than one source).

So in an effort to avoid the cannot in winter I’m opting for the do-not right now.  I broke my training this year into seven week cycles, with each of those cycles ending with a nothing week.  I don’t do any intensity, take as many days off as I need to feel antsy plus one more, and just focus on recovering, and recovering hard.  And my do nothing week could not come at a better time!

I’ve had such a great block of training spanning three different time zones, lots of modalities and many training partners.  I was so excited to finish it off with my Stratton teammates, and we really sent this block off in style with a 4 hour run in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.IMG_0022

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No one is really sure what Sophie thought we were all doing in this photo.

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Taking advantage of a “green” recovery day to hammer out some uphill skate intervals!

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It has been a bit of a hot and humid (and rainy) block of training, and I’ve even been taking a couple natural ice baths in the various bodies of water Vermont has to offer!

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And, as always, eating well. Grilled parmesan, zucchini and avocado on honey oat bread to kick off this nothing week.

Cheers to recovery!  Whoop whoop! :)