Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Benefit of Overload

I attempted jogging down to the pool this morning (first attempt at running in ~10 days). No good. Grrrr. Pain was only maybe 2/10 but I could tell for sure it was the exact same type of pain, and had I run further or faster it would have come back full force. So. Damn.

Starting my swim I didn't feel good- part of that might have been mental/emotional b/c I was bummed that I couldn't jog a 1/2 mile without pain. Anyway, I felt heavy and sluggish and slow in the water and my warm up was shit. I've turned that around 100x in the past though and still come out with a solid main set so I didn't give up hope on the session.

Opted to do a set of progressive 200's today. My old coach Scott used to give me this set over and over and I grew to like it (unlike the 60x50's I also had to do all the time that made me want to blow my head off). Anyway, it's a good way to break up 200's and swim fast at the same time.

4x200's @3:15
100 easy
3x200's @3:10
100 easy
2x200's @3:05
100 easy
200 fast!
100 c/d

I started off 2:57, 2:57, 2:56, 2:55. Those felt pretty good. I thought for the set of 3 I'd try to keep the descend and was shooting for 2:55>2:53, so when the first one was 2:53 I told Mark too fast! But then we still managed the descend 2:51, 2:50. That felt like solid work. For the set of 2 we went 2:48, 2:47 and that felt hard. To be honest, when I started this set I was hoping for sub 2:50 for the last one, so to do it on the set of 2 felt like a win already. Going into the last one I told Mark 2:44, though if I'm honest I'd say that was a pipe dream... I thought saying it out loud might help. Mark spat back "2:40". I laughed. We worked it though and I got to the wall at 2:41(!). He was a full body length ahead of me so sub 2:40 for him for sure. During that set I thought that THIS was the benefit of that overload swim challenge I did... 2 weeks of a ton of volume followed by a bit of rest and ta-dah! Swim fitness is back and I felt strong and solid and fast. I suspect a solid overload like that would work for most athletes, but especially for an athlete like me who has a deep swim background. It was just perfect and exactly what I needed to inject myself with some swim fitness that had been missing the previous months.

It occurred to me that I bet I could overload myself on the bike the same way I did with my swim and see my bike fitness come back around. Given my current inability to run, it seems like maybe a good time to experiment with that? While I was out riding this afternoon I came up with my (tentative) bike overload plan... 2 weeks of minimum 50k/day. I figure yesterday was at least 50 miles, today was 50k+ at 32 miles, so I'm already 2 days in! That seems pretty equivalent to the 5k+/day I did swimming. So we'll see if I can make that happen. It would be 210+ miles/week for a few weeks and I bet that would make me tired but again after a bit of rest I bet I'd be riding a ton stronger than I am right now. I do remember in 2013 I avg 225 miles/week for 12 weeks straight, so this 'overload' would be mini as compared to that... it may or may not be enough but I guess we'll see! The goal would be to put in these miles as just mostly steady riding, nothing crazy hard but not too easy either. That might put me in a place where I can do the harder stronger more focused work later and get more out of it because I was ready for it.

I had a look back at my training logs from 2011-2013 when I used to be a strong rider. Whether training by HR or power or feel, what was in common when I was strong was total volume. Many coaches say that total volume is a useless metric and really it's about intensity, but that has not been my personal experience. That said, I don't think going out and soft pedaling for hours on end is the way (for me), so I strapped my HR monitor on today and tried to keep HR 140+ as much as reasonable (cap at 150, though I went above that 2x on longer hills when I stood up). My route today didn't lend itself to steady state riding (stop lights and downhills let HR drop) so there were times when I had to focus and push to get HR back up to 140, but I finished the ride wth avg 139 and given the route I think that was perfect.

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