The second week of training went well. I could feel the workouts progressively giving me just the right amount of tiredness - enough to notice but not compromise the quality of the next workout. Winter has hit us harder and earlier than in recent years and trail runs feel like running in a kiddy pool due to the snow resistance. A storm last night has made the roads a total mess with little pavement visible through the ice, slush, and packed snow. I'll run treadmill the rest of this week and see how the trails look for the weekend long runs.
My conversation with John (my coach) last week brought out two issues. These relate to the purpose of recovery workouts. Before the details, it is important to know about the program. Training Peaks is a program that CTS uses to prescribe, track, and analyze workouts. It is very user friendly and has a great smartphone app. Moreover, my Garmin syncs so uploading my actual workout happens automatically. You can see my training calendar, workouts, and Garmin data on the Journey to 100 web page using the top links.
Workouts in Training Peaks are organized with category labels such as endurance, intervals, and recovery. Inside those workouts are the specific prescription details and also a brief description of that type of workout. For recovery workouts, the explanation includes this statement: "This workout increases blood flow to the muscles to alleviate soreness and remove lactic acid and free radical build-up, and to loosen them up." If you want to learn more about lactate and lactic acid, listen to my Science Of Ultra interview in episode 10. But, you don't need to hear from the current leading scientist because this is basic cell metabolism and exercise science 101: lactic acid and free radicals do not build up and remain in the muscle for longer than about an hour after a workout. The idea that it stays around until the next day and is flushed out by a workout is a myth. John told me that those descriptions are entered by CTS, and he said he'd pass it along. Hopefully, someone who can change those workout descriptions will do so quickly and also confirm that all the coaches are aware of the error as well as what is accurate.
The second issue that concerned me was a discussion of why we should do recovery runs. You can hear more on the sensitivity of the body to training and the need for true recovery in Science Of Ultra episode 6. I'm not aware of any science showing that these workouts will benefit me physiologically - though perhaps psychologically. I appreciate having some exercise every day as I just seem to feel better. But, I think that my training adaptations may be better served by training or resting and not running very easy short workouts that may only delay or slow recovery from the 'real' workouts. Recovery runs are something that aren't studied well and goes toward the art of coaching, where there must be a balance of physiology and psyche.
So, the workouts went fine this week. If you've listened to my Science Of Ultra interviews then you know that I can be direct and I have high expectations. I am much easier on my guests than I am on my own science and that of my trainees. The coaching experience for running is new to me and I see that I am quickly coming to expect of my coach and CTS the same rigor that I practice in my job. As John stated in our first Journey to 100 podcast episode, coach and athlete are a team and each can learn from the other. I like that, and it is true. So, on we go!