The Price of not Recovering Enough
For this season I’ve worked more and harder than ever before. I am so proud of all the work I put in that I talked about it several times. To push above my recent plateau I recognized that things needed to change. Among the changes I did were a lack of scheduled rest days, assuming life would force these upon me anyway, a change in diet, being very conscious of my weight, and a rise in volume for running and cycling.
Recently though the changes I made caught up with. Where before I’ve never really had any issue with recovery, this time I dug myself a hole I wouldn’t come out of that easily. After a recent business trip to Rome it finally hit me.
I stretched week-6, the last of a three week building stress cycle, a few days into the following recovery week. I anticipated that recovery week to be stretched due to business travel. I figured I’d rather have a slightly delayed recovery than an extended recovery phase that would throw off my rhythm. Once I was through though, I was completely gassed and needed 4 days of complete rest and extra sleep. During that time I could barely stay awake beyond 7pm, I had food cravings and wild weight fluctuations, and felt flat and moody. After that rest period I was slowly recovering but still being far from feeling fresh.
It appeared that there might have been more to it than just a lack of rest days. And so I started tweaking other things, especially my diet. Until then was on a mostly vegetarian diet, lots of fruits, veggies and grains, little to no meat and no sugar. In retrospect maybe a little low on protein.
Things began to turn around when I reduced my volume and started eating and sleeping even more (and better). Currently I often omit my „filler runs“, easy 5-8k that I introduced in an effort to raise volume and frequency. On big days I fuel more during workouts, have a proper recovery shake afterwards and whenever possible follow up the workouts with a nap in the afternoon. This and adding a bit more protein to my diet seems to have done the trick.
From here on the plan will pretty much the the same. Nail my interval run and big brick session, take it very easy on my long run and be very careful with intensity on the bike. And of course, swim more. Running and cycling less affords me time to hit the pool more often, which can’t be bad this close to the race.