Posts Tagged ‘Restwise’

Wednesday morning, an easy 10-miler on the schedule.  Essentially the shortest run on my calendar.

Lay-up.  Piece of cake.

Except as I pushed off from the garage, hit start on my watch and took the first dozen strides down the street I knew that it was going to be a battle for every step of those 10 miles.

The cumulative effect of all of the running, cycling and swimming we have been doing finally had caught up with me.  I am not Superman.  I am not indestructible.  I am not a machine.  I am in fact human, destructible and fallible.

Instead of ticking off comfortable miles, one after the other,  my body was suffereing from  fatigue and was falling into a comfortable pace that it knew it could meter out over 10 miles on a 77 degree morning with 85% humidity.  The dog days of August.

When I started training for marathons a day like Wednesday would shake me.  It would erode my confidence and have me stressing out about my fitness level, my training plan, my endurance, my ability as a runner.  “How could I be getting slower after putting in all of this work?”  I would think.  “This can’t be happening now with only X weeks before my race.”

But like most things in life, experience in this area is extremely valuable.  You have to keep the big picture in perspective during your training cycle.  In preparing for Kerrville 70.3 with 9 weeks leading up to race day I had 99 workouts on the schedule.  11 per week spread between 3 swims, 3 bike rides and 5 runs every 7 days.

One individual workout represents just 1/99th of my preperation.  1.01%.

Right then and there you should realize that we are talking about a statistically insignificant percentage of our body of work prior to race day.  That is why a general rule of thumb at the start of a training plan is to hope to complete 90-95% of your scheduled workouts as intended.  Over a traditional 18 week training cycle aches and pains, bumps and bruises, slight injuries and illness are going to occur.  That is the nature of the beast when you are truly “training hard” and making improvements to your fitness level, mental strength and endurance that you hope will manifest themselves on race day.

If you are pushing hard enough to improve, your body is going to push back.

Which leads me to my point today.  It is o.k. that my legs felt like crap on Wednesday morning and in fact, it was a good thing.

To improve as an athlete you need to first break down your muscles, allow them to recover through rest and easy days, which will then enable them to adapt to the increased training and grow stronger.

Getting your sleep, knowing when to take a rest day or make sure to run your “easy” workouts in fact “easy” – even on the days when you feel great is all part of that process.

It is the difference between “racing” your training plan and training to race.

Wednesday morning was not a lot of fun, I’m not going to lie.

Working hard to hold a pace just over 8:00 minutes per mile over 10 miles can be a humbling experience for a marathoner with a PR of 3:08:09 (7:11 pace for 26.2 miles).  But as I hit mile 6 and my sleepy legs finally started to get with the program and tick off miles faster and faster I had a moment where I smiled to myself and realized that my training to this point has been doing exactly what it was designed to do.

It has started to break me down to the point where I am fatigued and struggling.  My body will now make the choice to either adapt to the increased workload and grow stronger or it will fold under the pressure and break-down.

Those are the only two possibilities.

My level of experience that I have acquired over the last half-decade of preparing for marathons and endurance events will help me monitor my aches and pains to make sure that I am not teetering on the edge of an injury.

I will continue to leverage the RESTWISE tool that gives me daily feedback on my recovery state and my ability to train.  I have learned to take my recovery score very seriously from RESTWISE – when it tells me that my indicators are showing an increased level of fatigue, I listen.  It has shown time and time again that after a stretch of tough workouts and/or races that my body is in need of a reduction in the volume and/or intensity of my training to adapt and continue to grow stronger.

(If you are curious about how the RESTWISE system works – click HERE)

Restwise Recovery Level Report – 8-8-12

If I need a rest day I will take one.  When I feel great on my “hard” days I will go out and crush those workouts.

And on days like Wednesday, I will suck it up and do the best that I can.  Sometimes the next leap forward is just right around the corner.  You just have to have the patience and confidence that your breakthrough moment is waiting for you right around the bend.

Hill repeats on Thursday morning.  Sounds pretty good to me.

If you have been following the blog over the last couple of months you are aware that back in February I started using the RESTWISE Recovery, Science and Technology program.

The tagline that RESTWISE uses is simple.

Superior performance through intelligent recovery.

They have developed a program that takes the science of recovery out of the lab and puts it in the athlete’s hands.  Each day you answer a brief series of research-based questions, enter data from a pulse oximeter (which measures your resting heart rate and blood oxygen saturation) and the resulting Recovery Score will quantify your body’s state of recovery.

If you missed it the first time – click HERE for the product review and the details on how the RESTWISE system functions.

In a nutshell, the athlete enters their data into either a web interface or an app on their smart phone/iPad and the feedback is teturned immediately in the form of a score out of 100%.  The tool also provides a date range snapshot graphically for you to see any trends that are developing.

Below is a look at my RESTWISE Recovery scores for the two-week period of April 14 through April 27.  Essentially my final two days before the Boston Marathon through my post-race recovery period.

The chart is very powerful as you can clearly see I was operating at the 90%-100% level leading up to Boston, poised for a breakout performance on race day.  I had completed a tough training schedule, set PR’s at both the 10K and half-marathon distances and was hitting all of my intervals leading up to April 16th.

The weather of course on race day reaching 87 degrees made racing impossible, so it looks as if we will never really know what we would have done at Boston in 2012 had we had neutral conditions.

The day after Boston, even racing at reduced intensity decreased my recovery score down by 40%.  As each day progressed as I was resting, getting my sleep and recharging the batteries, my score returned to 80% three days after Boston and I went for a short 2-mile run.  Another rest day and I was back to 90% and resumed my training.

As I worked through my recovery training schedule, gradually adding miles on the run, swimming and cycling I am now back operating at 100% and ready for this weekend’s workouts.

Open Water Swim Friday.

8 Mile Run Saturday.

10 Mile Run Sunday.

The new week kicks off with 15-Miles on the Tri-Bike Trainer on Monday morning with another Open Water Swim in the afternoon.

As we continue to move the needle forward this week and our Triathlon Race Season begins on Sunday we will be trying to balancing swim, bike, run and strength training workouts each week.   Over the next several months we will be racing 5 triathlons and four running events depositing us to the starting line of our first Half-Ironman in October.

Having a well-balanced training plan is important, but so is making sure that I say flexible in my approach.  I will have never pushed my workouts to these limits from a total mileage standpoint on the bike and the swim.  The run mileage while very much within my previous margins, will feel much tougher with the additional cross training.

Longhorn 70.3 Training Plan

RESTWISE is going to play a key role in my preparation for Texas Ironman 70.3.  When my recovery score dips down to the 60-70% range I am going to listen to my body, my mind and the science and back things off.  Move workouts around when needed and reduce the intensity of those sessions so that my body will not only experience the increased workload – but to truly benefit from it.  I need to allow the proper rest so that my body can in fact adapt to that increased intensity and grow stronger from it.

That is the key to leveraging RESTWISE effectively.  Knowing when your body is in need of a reduction in intensity to rebound, recover and grow stronger.  It also gives you a strong indicator that even though you had a tough workout yesterday or the day before – you are still operating in a recovered state (80-90%) that will allow you to continue training hard, to keep pushing.

Afterall, that is what we do.

We work hard, break ourselves down, give the body time to repair and reload, ADAPT – then grow stronger.

By the time we reach the edge of Decker Lake on October 28th and prepare for our first 1.2 mile swim in race conditions – I expect us to be absolutely in the best shape of our life.  Physically and mentally ready to go out and absolutely hammer the swim, bike and run to make an honest attempt at breaking 5 hours in our first Half Ironman event.

I have to do the work, of that there is no question.

But it is a great feeling however knowing that RESTWISE has my back.  Thanks guys.

Two weeks ago I started using the RESTWISE Recovery, Science & Technology system to monitor my training intensity and my body’s need for recovery and rest.  My hope was that RESTWISE would enable me to keep moving the needle forward in preparing for the race of my life in Boston on April 16th, while ensuring that I get there 100% healthy and fully recovered from my training cycle to do battle on the most storied marathon course in the world.

To PR at Boston this year I am going to have to have absolutely everything come together for me in a perfect storm of events.  Training, health, focus, determination and of course a little help from the weather Gods.  If all of those variables come together like I hope they will, we should be making some personal history making the final turn on Boyleston Street at just about 1:00 p.m. on Patriot’s Day.

RESTWISE was developed by an impressive team of athletes, scientists and mathematicians who were able to design a weighting system blending scientific data with the athlete’s own subjective self-analysis to produce a recovery score out of 100.

This score, and especially the trending of the score, alerts the athlete when they are running an increased risk of overtraining and/or injury.

My initial post about the way the score is calculated and some background information about RESTWISE can be found HERE:

Please click the link above for a brief description and overview of their product.

Now, on to the good stuff.

Every morning for the past two weeks I have faithfully recorded my resting hear rate, blood oxygen saturation level and weight and entered it into the RESTWISE App on my iPad.  I then answered the 8 quick questions regarding my sleep pattern, energy level, mood, appetite, training performance from the previous day, whether I am ill, if I have any muscle soreness or an injury and finally my hydration level based on my “urine shade.

What is interesting is that before using RESTWISE, I did a few of these things on my own every morning ablbeit in a much more subjective fashion.  I would weigh myself and mentally calculate that vs. the previous few days.  Was I dehydrated?  Did I need to be more careful and perhaps take a water bottle with me on that morning’s run?

I would think about the sleep I got, how I felt and if I had any soreness or a new injury brewing.

I would evaluate those readings; assign some sort of “mental score” to it and then go for my run.  If I struggled during the workout, I would chalk it up to not feeling good.  If I nailed it, I would pat myself on the back and think, “man, you’re a warrior – great job”.

But never once did I think about skipping a workout or altering it in any way.  Never.

I ran the workout as scheduled because as an endurance athlete – that is what we do.  We overcome obstacles.  We persevere when others wouldn’t.  We don’t back down from challenges, we embrace them.

One of my favorite quotes that I play over and over in my mind on a tough day is the thought that:

“Somewhere out there a runner is training when you are not.  When you race him, he will beat you.”

More often than not, I feel like I am that runner.  Out there in the rain, wind, heat, humidity, hammering away when others would not.

That’s all fine and well, until it isn’t.

RESTWISE to me is a tool that provides me with an opportunity to check myself and my ego at the door.

By looking at a tangible, scientifically derived score from a respected recovery model – the same model Ryan Hall used to run the fastest American Marathon time in history at last year’s Boston Marathon, I can “KNOW” when I am in need of recovery, and the next, most important step is to alter my training plan to accommodate it.

If I am at 60% recovery level and need a break, I can move that morning’s hill repeat session to later in the week and just run easy – or take a day off – without feeling “GUILTY” that I caved in.  That I didn’t push harder when times were tough.

I can leave those moments for “digging deep” for race courses and not feel like I have to tap into them on a training day.

Training is all about pushing your musculature and aerobic capacity to new levels, then providing recovery so those stressed muscles and systems can adapt to new levels. 

Without the “recovery” stage, there is no adaptation – only a breaking down of the systems.  Leading to poor performance, injury or both.

I get it now – 100%. 

Time to not only be a tough athlete, but to become a smarter one as well, with those two tools in my toolbox, we might be very tough to beat as marathon season moves to triathlon season and we move up to the 45-49 year old Age Group at the end of July.

Am I really going to be 45 in July?  Holy Moly.

So after two weeks, what did RESTWISE Tell us?

The screenshot below tracks my recovery level day to day, peaking at 100% on a couple of occasions (Feb. 4 and Feb. 10), spending most days in the 80% to 90% range.

RESTWISE - 2 Week Review

What is interesting is to see the downward trend that started on February 11th and then bottomed out on February 12th – reaching a low recovery score over this period of 40%.

The green line that I chose to include in the chart (you can include as many of the variables as you would like to track in the graph) shows my training performance.

Most days it was normal or above normal, but as we reach February 11th and 12th, my performance suffers badly as my need for a recovery day increases more and more. 

After taking a rest day, both my recovery score and training performance rebounded nicely.

Pretty impressive.

So as we continue to move forward leveraging the RESTWISE system, I will pay more careful attention to the trend lines and try to “nip the decline” in the bud – be more flexible about shifting workouts around to accommodate my need for recovery, so that to paraphrase Ryan Hall’s philosophy:

“I will run my easy workouts easy, allowing me to run my hard workouts hard”.

Avoiding the pitfalls of overtraining, and never really being rested properly to give max effort on the days that call for it.  For the first time in a long time I’m starting to think that the Boston Marathon should start feeling a little bit nervous about me on race day, and not the other way around.

Run on people.

Just about every successful endurance athlete would admit that “recovery” is a critical part of a sound training program.  They KNOW that fact, but have a hard time striking the appropriate balance between proper recovery and sustained workouts and training.

Over the last few years as I have become more and more competitive with my racing and my performances and race times have improved I can easily attribute that to an increase in my training and the types of workouts that I routinely do.  Hard work is still the mantra of the modern-day endurance athlete.  Which is where problems can arise.

We believe that “running on tired legs” improves our endurance.

Nailing a workout when we’re a little under the weather “proves our toughness”.

Running a set of hill repeats even though we feel tired and in need of a break is the right thing to do because, “they were on the training schedule”.

So how do you know when you really do need a rest day?  How do you KNOW that it is time for recovery, not time to keep pushing?

Well, the folks at Restwise have put together a solution for the everyman or everywoman out there.  Those of us who are serious about our training but do not have a team of doctors, nutritionists, massage therapists and coaches monitoring our every move.

The tagline that Restwise uses is simple.

Superior performance through intelligent recovery.

They have developed a program that takes the science of recovery out of the lab and puts it in the athlete’s hands.  Each day you answer a brief series of research-based questions, enter data from a pulse oximeter (more on that in a second), and the resulting Recovery Score will quantify your body’s state of recovery.

Pretty darn impressive.

The pulse oximeter (which is included) clips on your finger and in 15-30 seconds records your resting heart rate as well as your blood oxygen saturation (SPO2) level.  You self report your weight and the amount of sleep that you had the previous 24 hours, including any naps.  (Naps? man does that sound awesome).

Restwise Pulse Oximeter

You are then asked to enter a few subjective questions such as:

How well did you sleep?

Describe your energy level today.

Describe your mood state today.

Describe yesterday’s training performance.

Describe your appetite.

Do you have sore throat, headache, nausea, diarrhea or other illness?

Do you have any muscle soreness?

Do you have an injury that is affecting your training?

Urine Shade.

All of these questions are a simple selection of worse than normal, normal, better than normal or they are a yes/no question.

Filling in my first day of data took less than 2 minutes including the reading from the pulse oximeter.

The Restwise solution is one that they themselves describe as “simple”.

1.     Identify the research-based markers that relate to recovery and overtraining.

2.     Determine their relative importance.

3.     Build an algorithm which folds all the data together in such a way that the resulting calculation is meaningful.

4.     Wrap it in a web-based tool that doesn’t require a PhD to understand.

5.     Generate a score that tells an athlete how prepared their body is for hard training.

6.     Make sure it is accessible from the major handheld devices as well as the web.

Restwise pulled together a small team that includes some of the best minds in exercise science, some incredibly experienced athletes and some “seriously smart math guys” to make the enterprise work. 

I reached out to Jeff Huntto tell him that after reading about Ryan Hall’s use of the system – leading to the fastest ever American Male Marathon time last year in Boston – I had an intellectual curiosity about the product/program.  Jeff was quick to let me know that he would love to send me out a package so I could get started right away.

Restwise arrived in 5 days - Thanks Jeff!

I will be recording my data for 30 days to establish my “base-line” which will then give me instant, interpretive feedback letting me know when I am prepared to “train hard”and when I need some time to recover.

Sample Daily Report from Restwise

The comment that resonated with me the strongest from the team at Restwise was:

“Without a way to consistently and easily monitor recovery levels, even the most thoughtful training plan can lead an athlete to overtrain. And the fitter you are – the more you have sharpened that “performance edge” – the more fragile you may be. Like thoroughbred racing horses, a race-ready endurance athlete is only a few hard training sessions away from disaster.

With this in mind, it is easy to see why developing a window into your body’s ability to sustain, and recover from, heavy training can mean the difference between the podium and the parking lot.”

My training this week consisted of a snowy, challenging 16-mile trail run on Tuesday, followed by a 12-mile up-tempo run :20/mile slower than marathon race pace and then 16 hours later another tough session of hill repeats on Thursday.

As I was running my cool-down mile back to the house after my 10th and final hill repeat of the morning I knew that Friday’s rest day was coming at a perfect time.  I had pushed hard for several days in a row and needed to recharge the batteries before this weekend’s 11 mile/21 mile workouts on Saturday and Sunday.

I thought a lot about Restwise on that mile back to the house and what it would have instructed me a month from now as I debated resting on Thursday morning and running my repeats on Friday – but being the dedicated athlete, training for the marathon of my life in Boston this April, I stuck to the schedule that I had written more than 3 months ago.

I’m excited to receive the frequent e-mails from Restwise throughout the program as well as seeing my feedback on my daily reports.

Ironically after just one day of entering data – Restwise informed me that I needed a recovery day.

Those guys at Restwise must be pretty darn smart after all.

(I will be sharing Restwise updates on the road to Boston and post-race we’ll take a look back at our data – Thanks for everything Jeff!  See you in Boston for a post-race beverage!  Can’t wait)