Sometime training goes on and it seems interminable, with good days, mediocre days, days that just suck overall. And then there are days that show that all the effort has paid off. Today was such a day for me, after two solid months of disciplined effort.
My legs were toast yesterday, with achiness and suffering from 4-5 days of moderately-high wattage but 2 hour rides, taking a steady toll. Following my rule of “ride every day but cut to 1/2 or 1/3 duration when flagging”, I cut my workout to 1/3 of normal, but I also did the following:
- Used the Marc Pro muscle stimulator for about 20 minute on my aching quads.
- Did my usual daily foam roller bit (reduces some of the achiness, relaxes tight muscles).
- Got ~11 hours of sleep. I’m finding that sleep is critical at my late middle age. Still strong, but if I get 8 hours instead of 10 hours after a hard workout day, my body cannot cope with more than 2-3 good workouts before getting cranky quads and gluteus.
Holy cow. The combination worked, as I had the strongest workout of the year, what I refer to as “free flowing power”: it takes an effort, but a moderately hard effort seems easier than the day before with 'toast legs', and yet the power was ~70 watts higher (e.g., ~270 watts vs 200 watts). The power of sleep and recovery and perhaps, the Marc Pro, which definitely made those aching quads feel much better the night before and the next day’s recovery (after several days of achiness) were pretty awesome.
I’m rather excited: things are lining up for a very strong season because the feeling is that I’ve just nudged into Tier 2 (see below), and it’s only late February. While my right leg musculature remains a little cranky, I think it will sort out, and unlike last year, no knee issues or shoulder surgery to kill the training season.
Training has its seasonalities and setbacks. I bucket my fitness into four groups:
- Peak condition (Tier 1): just before the Everest Challenge: high power output, everything can take a beating for 4 or 5 days and feel decent, double centuries or similar feel decent, leaned-out to 7-8% body fat. Awesome place to be, very hard to stay there.
- Tier 2: sub-peak condition, very strong, endurance very strong but not yet at its peak, peak power not yet there (off by 5% or so); abusive workouts less well tolerated, times 5% or so off best. Carrying 3-4 pounds extra body fat, which is still very noticeable vs leaned-out Tier 1.
- Tier 3: late winter/ early spring: endurance very good, but 3-4 hours at moderate intensity is still a solid workout. Carrying 5-8 pounds extra body fat, which sucks when ascending.
- Tier 4: winter / off season: up to 10 extra pounds, reasonably strong but endurance well off the mark, reduced peak power by 15% or so, recovery not so great after moderately hard 2 hour workout.
SRM power graphs
Entire workout: 258 watts @ 139 bpm (includes downhills section pedaling, excludes a few minutes of begin/end nothing).
Click graph to view larger. All power figures are smooth at 1% in SRMMac.
The first 86 minutes: 269 watts @ 142 bpm.
A sort of negative split with power increasing slightly to end.
The next day
I used the Marc Pro muscle stimulator for about half an hour for recovery the evening after the workout discussed above. I was impressed with how good my legs felt the next day, and I am sure that the Marc Pro helped. They were not recovered fully (an unreasonable expectation), but but how did they do?
Here is the next day’s workout. A warmup into a 22:00 climb of OLH felt like a hard effort with legs not at full spec, but remarkably doable. That was followed by an aerobic spin, though a flat tire interrupted it as I nursed it home*. I followed that workout up with the Marc Pro again, and it really made my legs feel more relaxed and less achy. The Marc Pro works.
* A glass cut meant that the Stan’s NoTubes didn’t get me far; I had to peel the tire and use my spare tubular). See Stans NoTubes Sealant for Repair of Tubular Tires. The sealant had saved this tire twice before in weeks prior, but this 6mm long cut from glass was just too big a gash. May there be a Dante-ring for the dirt bags who drink and throw bottles out the window.
Click for larger graph.
And the next
Using the Marc Pro muscle stimulator on the 2nd day’s workout, I could feel the ache disappear when done. And I’ll be darned if a 3rd solid workout did not follow in turn. The legs were not fully recovered, but they could make good power and keep it turned on. The Marc Pro is a very beneficial recovery aid, and this can be felt in relief from achy muscles as soon as the session is done.