#94: Fat & Happy? Time to start looking….

It’s been 3 weeks (22 days if you’re one of those “exacting” types) since I last sat down to spill my story.  Feels like no time and forever all at once, a time period that is generally sufficient to let the damage heal, put some of life’s pieces back together, get to the other side of the post-race mild depression, be a Dad again, find out that eating like an Ironman without training like an Ironman is a recipe for “gains”, and realize how much fatigue you really have accumulated along the ride.  There’s no real science (that I can find) that spells out the right amount of recovery…..it’ll get there…..but more that you need it…..and you should focus on doing it right with the same intensity and focus that training gets.

Theory 1 – 1 day per 1 mile raced:  This is a common one, and might even be practical for races totaling a marathon or less – figure 3-6 months of hard training followed by 1 month off……that’s not a bad strategy…..but following an Ironman?  That’s 141 days off….as in train for 7 months, off (completely) for 5.  Hmm…..that’s a lot of time to lose gains.

Theory 2 – Let your motivation be your guide:  The mindset lovers are a fan of this one…..because it’s sooo common to feel burned out after a big “A” race….when you’re hungry again, take a bite.  I like this one, except unless the “A” race felt like an “A+” (which this clearly was not) my voice-inside is usually STARVING and wants to get back out there and hit it harder; to make up for lost ground; to redeem and resume.  That clearly can’t work on the long term……at least for me.

Theory 3 – Use data:  OK nerds, yes, this my preference.  Not always hard data points, but measurable nonetheless……gain a little weight (preferably body fat), accumulate some rest and shed some fatigue (as evidenced by a training stress balance that is significantly positive) and start back on some base building and strength training when the fitness score dips below 60% of peak…..and of course there’s my irritability index (you know when every little thing that you were too tired to be bothered by now drives you nuts?) starts creeping upward.

So where does this leave me?

Pre-Race: BMI was 22.7 (153.4 lbs) and my total Body Fat % was 6.1%, slightly more lean than 

Build-Phase: BMI 22.2 (150.0 lbs) and body fat 8.5% going into the heaviest training volume 

Current #’s: BMI 23.2 (157.6 lbs) and 9.6% body fat (average)

Training Stress Balance

Blue = CTL, Gold = Balance

This is definitely not an exact science, but if my logic holds, a positive balance of 50-ish should be very sufficient for me to start making my way back toward the routine.  If hard training puts me as low as a negative 30 (which is broken down but not injured) and racing around positive 30 has me feeling fresh and strong, a positive 50 is well rested.

Peak Training (July 2012): -21.9
Pre-Race (August 2012): +30.9
Current (Sept 2012): +49.9

Chronic Training Load
Again, part of the not-exact-science from above, but at least based on real data points, “chronic training load” is a measure of longer-term fitness.  My goal was to peak at/above 100 (elites race around 120-ish I’m told), so a CTL of 65 or less is a great place to get back into the swing of things.

Peak Training (July 2012): 109.7
Pre-Race (August 2012): 87.9
Current (Sept 2012): 59.5

“Survey says”:  Back to work.

So, with the labor day holiday on me, a little “thickness” around the middle and a personality somewhere in the Mr. Cranky-pants end of the spectrum, all indicators are “go” to get back to work.  Of course, it’s only back to base-building and strength, so it’s not a huge time commitment, but it’s something……and it’s got to be consistent routine.

So for starters – I’ll need to identify a goal – since consistency without one is unlikely at best.  This has big implications for me, because it has to leave me in position to make gains on the big Red-iculous…….but with Ironman on the shelf for at least a year, I know it’s not “Qualify for Kona” (yet).

“A” race goal?  50 mile trail run – not sure when (or where), but I’ve thrown my hat into the ring for this one.

Triathlon Specific Goal? Timberman 70.3 (1/2 Ironman) in August of 2013 – for now, that’s what looks most feasible.

Short Term Goal? Hmm…..this is a tougher one……because nothing is really jumping off the page for me, however I’m considering heading north to get a Connecticut marathon off my list…..and there’s a cheap one in early December that looks like it might have potential.  The early December part will work well for me from a calendar perspective, however, the Dec in CT part could be colder than I’d like…..that’s what wool socks are for I guess.

Bringing it back into focus is never easy…..but it’s the right time for it.

The effort continues,

Mike E.