Zenman's 2013 Training Journal: 05 August

small zendurance cycling logoMonday, 05 August

The “Art” of Recovery

This is a summer of frequent racing for me. I am really enjoying the challenge of sequencing and orchestrating my training sessions and races. It requires logical deduction, yes - but more importantly, it requires intuition and the ability to listen and to heed the cellular intelligence of my body.

Specifically, I have learned to assess and evaluate the “stress/recovery balance” of my endocrine system, as well as my neuro-muscular system. I do this without the use of any external technology (heart-rate monitor, GPS, power meter, etc.) In my experience, my Perceived Rate of Exertion (PRE) is the most accurate “quantitative” indicator of intensity, stress, recovery, etc.

However, it takes years of experience to develop and trust my perceptive capacity. It also requires detachment from my goals and desires, so that I do not ignore what is true in an effort to bring about what is not. It is so easy for us as athletes to get attached to “the numbers” of our training: the volume or time, the pace and intensity, the frequency, the weekly patterns.

With regards to my training methods, I am not really an athlete. I am an artist. I engage my creativity, intuition and ingenuity in my training and racing far more than my logical deductive powers. And this is what fuels my passion year after year.

8 Days Later... A Podium?

As mentioned in my previous Entry - Monday, 30 July (just below this one) - I finished my first 100-mile mountain bike race Saturday, 27 July - in 13 hours 44 minutes. My next race, 8 days later was Cayuga Lake Intermediate Distance Triathlon (CLT) - a popular race held here in Ithaca by the Ithaca Tri Club.

Despite the 13+ hours required to finish the Wilderness 101 (and the fatigue in my legs), my quest was to podium at CLT. A podium finish would serve as “free promotion” since my market as a swim/bike biomechanist and triathlon mentor is here in the Finger Lakes Region.

This would only be possible is I could orchestrate an effective recovery. What follows is a discussion of this process.

Case Study

Here is the summary of my training for the 7 days between Wilderness 101 and CLT:

Sunday, 28 July: (Travel back to Ithaca - AM)
Mid: 30 min Swim: Easy recovery (followed by 15 min steam room)

Monday, 29 July:
AM: 70 Min Strength: My standard mat session (Pilates/yoga blend)
Mid: 35 Run: Very slow recovery on hilly terrain

Tuesday, 30 July:
AM: 45 Min Bike: (TT bike on trainer): Zendurance Cycling Drills, (3X) 30-second “jumps”
25 Run: 180 strides-per-minute, flat terrain - immediately off the bike
Mid: 50 Swim: Stroke-Per-Lap (SPL) “gearing” session - moderate intensity (followed by 15-20 minutes steam

Wednesday, 31 July
AM: 70 Strength: Mat session
Mid: 35 Run: Easy, then (6X) 30-stride hill repeats
PM: 20 Swim: “Zen” swim - focused on hydrodynamics (followed by 15 steam)

Thursday, 01 August
AM: 20 Bike: Easy warm-up ride to the track
65 Run: Track session: Drills, (4X) 100M, (2X) (4X 200M)
10 Bike: Cool down returning home
PM: 50 Swim: Tempo Trainer interval session: increasing tempo/decreasing distance (followed by 15 steam)

Friday, 02 August
AM: 45 Bike: (TT bike on trainer): Zendurance Cycling Drills, (4X) 30-second “jumps”
25 Run: 180 strides per minute, flat terrain - immediately off the bike
PM: 35 Run: Very easy recovery run on hilly terrain

Saturday, 03 August
AM: 65 Strength: Mat session
Mid: 20 Swim: Zen tune-up (followed by 15 minutes steam) (I did 2 presentations today for the Cayuga Medical Center Sports Med Conference)

Weekly Totals
Swim: 2:50
Bike: 2:00
Run: 3:40
Strength: 3:25

Sunday, 04 August


The theme for this week was active recovery. There was a significant reduction in training volume over the previous 2 weeks: (14-20 July: 21 hours - including Musselman Half Iron, 21-27 July 23:55 - including Wilderness 101). Those 2 weeks saw my highest volume this year - in preparation for Peasantman, 18 August.

Most obvious was a significant reduction in cycling volume. Tuesday and Thursday both included the only real cycling sessions - stationary sessions focusing on drills and short intervals with generous recovery between each effort.

Also out of the ordinary, I did 3 (instead of 2) strength sessions.

Run volume was low, but the frequency (7 runs) was only slightly decreased. In my 50’s, I find it is vital that I run frequently - albeit for short duration. My current “recovery run” route (beginning at my home) climbs steeply up to the Cornell Campus, traverses some trails and scenic views and returns home. Starting steep might seem a bit crazy, but I start very slow. The steep uphill is great for stretching.

I included a set of hill repeats and a track session this week. For both of these - like the cycling sessions - I allowed for plenty of recovery between intervals.

Swimming volume was typical for most weeks. As I have stated before, most of swim sessions are primarily recovery-oriented. I have, for years, focused most of intensity in cycling and running. Given that efficiency is paramount in swimming performance, I can train adequately for performance without much intensity at all. This week, I did include some 50-yard sprints with generous recovery.

Anabolic vs. Catabolic: The Secret to Active Recovery

There are two forms of recovery: passive and active. Passive recovery translates to rest and cessation from activity. Active recovery involves performing exercise that promotes and accelerates recovery Successful active recovery exercise is anabolic - meaning (in my crude layman’s terms) that the activity chemically stimulates recovery and restoration.

Anabolic activities include very low-intensity exercise - like many of my runs, swims and commuter bike rides (that I do not log in my training). Most of these sessions are 30 minutes or less. However very brief high-intensity intervals are also effective for anabolic stimulus. These anabolic intervals serve double duty: They also maintain (even enhance) neuro-muscular recruitment, proprioception, joint stability and efficient technique.

My strength sessions serve in the same way. These mat work sessions I perform at home are essential to my craft as an endurance athlete. And probably the most effective method of recovery and rejuvenation: My daily practice of T’ai Chi. In my experience, there is no substitution for T’ai Chi. The powers of this deep practice are astounding.

Well? Podium?

Yes, first in age group: Second fastest swim, fastest bike, fastest run in my age group. Recovery successful.

I will return to the subject of racing as training: sequencing races and integrating them as training while still producing a few good performances along the way.

Another “Post-Race Load” Training Yesterday evening (same day as the CLT) I did a 25-minute recovery run. This morning, I ran another 35-minute recovery run. Midday, I rode 2 hours, focusing on sustained hill climbs on my mountain bike. Ideally, I would like to have ridden 4 hours, but my professional responsibilities prevented that: Tomorrow, I travel to Cleveland to direct a Total Immersion Coach Training.


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