Saturday, February 6, 2016

Week 5 Progress


Time Avg
Elev Gain
Elev Loss
Calories HR
29th Jan Rest day
30th Jan 15.0 24.14 02:54:39 11:39 5.2 364 356 1,681 2 144
31st Jan Rest day
1st Feb Rest day
2nd Feb 5.2 8.37 01:02:34 12:02 5.0 118 114 584 1 133
3rd Feb Rest day
4th Feb 7.50 12.07 01:27:13 11:38 5.2 189 186 970 2 141
Week 5 27.70 44.58 05:24:26 671 656 3,235
Week 4 31.50 50.69 06:11:56 806 831 3,528
Week 3 36.50 58.74 06:58:54 873 825 4,390
Week 2 29.70 47.82 05:37:20 629 621 3,720
Week 1 30.00 48.28 05:51:27 629 580 3,633
TOTAL 155.40 250.11 1 day 06:04:03 3,608 3,513 18,506
To go   1,094.60 1,765.89

Lowest mileage week of the challenge so far, but still just ahead of the 24.03 mile per week average that I need. 

The lower mileage was partly because I could only get out 3 times last week, but also because it's the final round of the Winter Walking League at the NSC on Sunday so I didn't want to overdo it in training.

However, I think my heart rate is trying to tell me I'm overdoing it as my last 4 sessions have been rather frustrating.

On Tuesday (2nd Feb) I went for an easy 5.2 mile walk but I couldn't stop my heart rate from jumping well into zone 2 and even zone 3 in places.   Even on the downhills my HR was way above where it should have been, and I was barely moving.

I often experience spikes with the monitor for the first mile until I work up a bit of a sweat and the contact improves between the chest strap and the skin, but the spikes lasted the full session, resulting in an overall pace of 12:02, considerably slower than my last zone 1 easy walk which was 11:42, and 2 miles longer!

On Thursday (4th) I set out on one of my usual 7.50 mile loops, and with the Winter Walking League on Sunday I decided to make this another easy session.  The loop followed exactly the same first 2 miles as Tuesday, and exactly the same thing happened with my heart rate.

The strange thing is I felt absolutely fine, I wasn't breathing heavy or struggling in any way, it really did feel an 'easy' level of effort.  At the 2 mile point, rather than cursing the heart rate monitor for the next 5.5 miles I decided to just make it a zone 2 walk instead. 

My average pace was better (11:38 which is okay given the first 2 miles were easy), but if you compare that to my 15 mile long walk on Saturday (which was also zone 2), it was only 1 second per mile quicker. 

Curious as to what is happening, on Friday (5th) I repeated the exact same 5.2 mile loop as Tuesday, again in zone 1, and exactly the same thing happened.  The last 3/4 of a mile of that route is up hill, so this time I just decided to push hard all the way to the top. 

What I was hoping to see was my heart rate very quickly hit the max and maybe even go way above it.  This would confirm something dodgy was going on with the equipment.  What actually happened is I flew up that hill probably as quick as I have ever done, but my HR stabilised around 160, only getting close to the max as I neared the last hundred meters or so. 

After that I decided it still must be the monitor and concluded the battery must be failing. 

Unfortunately I had no spare batteries for it, but I had something better...  a brand new identical chest strap that came with my old Garmin 305 (the strap I was using came from my very first Garmin 50 and is about 7 years old!, and I have another unused spare that came with my Garmin 310XT).

Convinced I had found the problem I went out again this morning and followed another of my regular 7.5 mile loops out past Onchan Head, past Groudle out to the Liverpool Arms and back into Onchan.

Again the plan was to stay in the easy zone 1, but exactly the same thing happened !!  Today is the 3rd time this year I have followed that loop in zone 1, and my average pace was 12:06, down from 11:42 two weeks ago !

Static electricity generated from clothes can be a cause of odd behaviour with a monitor, but I haven't been wearing anything different.

Your resting heart rate (RHR) is always a very good indication of how well recovered you are from a previous session and can be an easy way to quickly spot if you are over training.  I monitor my RHR several times a day and it has actually dropped from 52 at the start of the year to a reasonably consistent 49 now.  I have even recorded 46 a few times this week, so I'm definitely getting fitter and it doesn't indicate over training.

The lower RHR does make understanding why it's jumping so quickly all the more difficult though!

Anyway, my unofficial conclusion is that I have over trained and even though my RHR is perfectly fine, my muscles are probably just tired and haven't quite caught up yet.

In the first 5 weeks I have walked 155.40 miles.  In the first 5 weeks of 2015 I ran/walked just 101 miles, so a 50% increase this year.

Taking time out to recover is essential in any training plan.  You don't actually improve your fitness through the act of training itself, but rather during the recovery period afterwards when your muscles repair and rebuild stronger.  Not letting them repair is an open invitation for injury.

I often read training plans that are built around a 4-6 week cycle of progressively increasing distance/intensity each week (although by no more than 10% per week), and then taking a really easy recovery week (no more than 50% of that final weeks mileage) before starting the 4-6 week cycle again.  When you start the next cycle you don't just jump in from where you left off though but rather pick it up from about week 3 or 4 (if that makes sense?)

A very simple example based on weekly mileage may look like this :

Week           Mileage
1                   20
2                   22
3                   25
4                   27
5                   30
6                   15  (cut mileage and intensity by 50%)

1                   25  (start around week 3 or 4)
2                   27
3                   30
4                   33
5                   37
6                   18   (cut mileage and intensity by 50%)

1                   30
2                   33
etc etc 

So, after the final 10k race of the winter league tomorrow I am going to take it easy for the rest of the week, and by that I don't mean doing nothing at all but rather doing just 2 short sessions (about 5k) at a very easy pace, let's call it zone 0.5, just to keep the legs moving.

I was really hoping for a decent improvement from my last 10k time at Ronaldsway (01:03:01), but given I have been out training back to back for the last 3 days (19.7 miles) trying to figure out what's wrong with the HR monitor I really don't think it's going to happen now!

I have purposely not done any speed work since the last round (except for that hill session 3 weeks ago to assess my max walking heart rate) in an attempt to prove (to myself at least) that to race faster you really do need to train slower.

I haven't dipped under 60 minutes for a 10k for about 2 years now, so if I get anywhere close to that (having done no speed work) then I'll be very pleased with how my training is going so far this year.

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