Tip of the Week

The Forum for Endurance Athletes

Tip of the Week

Postby natellerandi » Sun Aug 21, 2011 9:36 am

As we strive to improve our fitness, the sensations we feel typically fall into one of two camps: either the HR is in front of the body, or the body is in front of the HR. So, how do these differ?

Typically, as we are working to build fitness -- after a layoff of some duration and sort -- our HR is in front of the body. Meaning, the HR is the limiter on how hard or long we can perform. Maybe you start charging up a hill you normally conquer but this time, about half-way up it, your chest constricts, your HR punches a hole in the roof and you're left seeing cross-eyed as your effort quickly and quite stunningly wanes.

As we gain some steam and approach the racing season or a specific race we are gunning for, the body should be in front of HR. Meaning, that despite an elevated HR, the body continues to respond positively to the whip. We recover quickly from repeated high-end efforts, we can sustain an elevated HR for an extended period of time and feel like we can consistently drive the body forward rather than pulling back. In this scenario, you charge up and over the hill with tenacity; the body settles in to the pain cave.

As you train, it is important to understand which scenario you are following. If the HR is in front of the body as you approach your key race, then chances are you will fall short of your expectations and goals. But, if you know this going in, then it shouldn't come as a surprise when you do fall short of your goals. So, maybe going in you adjust your expectations to something more realistic and attainable.

Likewise, if the body gets in front of the HR too soon before your key race, then you know you need to carefully manage your training during the final prep phase heading into race day. You can only hold a peak for so long (a few weeks) before your fitness starts to take a slide. So, if you're 4 weeks out from your key race and you're lighting the world on fire in your training, you need to manage that great fitness so you're still riding the peak into your key race rather than starting the downhill slide.

This is different than RPE -- Rate of Perceived Effort. Your RPE won't change much, if at all. What will change are the sensations you feel during a particular level of effort. The body tends to accept (body in front of HR) or reject (HR in front of body) stress. As your training builds and you become more fit, the first few workouts where the body is accepting are fun and exciting. You've turned the proverbial corner and know you are on the upward trajectory. What's not fun about that?

For those preparing for their end-of-season key races, or for those who are already done for 2011 and are getting ready to start looking forward into 2012, hopefully this ToW will help you better clue in to and decipher the messages your body is sending you during your workouts. The body's a great storyteller; we just need to listen.

Happy Training,
Nate Llerandi
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:44 am

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