Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I don't understand my body at all

Sometimes I think it's ironic that I'm viewed as someone that's always going by the numbers and is totally scientific. While I do use various numbers a lot in my training and attempt to be as scientific as possible there are two sides to the coin, and just as I am my own exercise scientist, I am also sometimes just Mike the guinea pig athlete.

Sunday and Monday, for instance, were a couple days where it's clear that sometimes no matter how methodical I am, my body knows more than I do and sometimes I just can't explain it.

For a quick bit of context:
- Tuesday was the Port Ride to round out a nearly 100mile day, and it was predictably hard but felt good
- Wednesday was easy (just about an hour toodling along)
- Thursday I felt great, so I went full gas on the short-end - 1minute intervals and sprints. Set a new PR here
- Friday, recovery toodling
- Saturday I go to my Father-in-law's house and move furniture until I'm dead-tired
- Sunday I try to race the 2-wheel crit and DNF a race for only the second time *ever* since racing from 1995

Sunday was awful. Splitting headache, foaming at the mouth, couldn't put power down, pulled myself an hour into a 75-minute crit.

So I figure the furniture-moving was bad. And maybe I was dehydrated, I dunno.

I wake up Monday, I'm pretty sore all over from moving still, but I go for a spin on the trainer anyway, and this happens:

WTF? I mean, basically I had planned to just ride easy and was riding what felt easy when I looked down and realized I'd been zipping along at my previous FTP (270W) for around 5 minutes with no heart rate movement at all, even as I put more load on a few times.

While I'm doing this, I'm thinking it is very, very strange. Like, maybe my heart has a problem and I need a doctor strange.

So I figure I'll round it out for a 20-minute FTP test and with 10 minutes to go I ratchet it up pretty big - to 320W. A couple months ago I could do that for 4 minutes and I'd pretty much hurl at 4:01, so trying it for 10 minutes is unrealistic at best. Now my heart finally edged up to threshold levels, and even then only after bumping up to 330W a couple times.

I still felt low perceived exertion though, so with two minutes left I figured I'd go for 380W. Why not? it's all impossible anyway. I was able to stick that and when I was done I felt recovered in about two minutes.

This just doesn't happen! That's a 50W improvement on both FTP and 5-minute efforts! Who sets a 5-minute PR at the end of a 20-minute test? On any other day, not me.

I checked this morning on a different bike (with a different power unit), and much of that power is still present so I know my Ergomo isn't f'ing with me.

I have never had that happen before, ever. I'm Mr.Slow-and-steady progress if I'm anything.

The athlete guinea pig in me is ecstatic at the numbers (more math tells me I'd do 27.7mph in a TT at that power!), but the scientist in me is completely puzzled.

I'm going to have to do some more testing surrounding fuel (maybe it was Bob's Red Mill Oats on Monday?), warmup (maybe it was just easing into it?), amount of rest (two days no cycling, one day hard ride, then something I care about?) and any other variables I can think of that may have resulted in blowing the doors off like that.

If I can make this happen in a race...

Anyway, I know there's some number-geeks out there, so I thought I'd share. Has anyone else had something like this happen? Total crap day followed by blowing the doors off? Any tricks you know?

And what's on tap for the Pescadero Suffer-fest on Saturday? Is my body going to be Dr.Jekyll, or Mr.Hyde?


Anonymous said...

hey mike - i'm lurking in your blogosphere. good to see you on sunday. i think you're heart rate is slowing down the fitter you get, which is normal. you should go test your lactate thresholds after a day of rest to potentially re-set things. more power is good. bad race day is, well, whatever dude it's a crit. it was fast, i thought. you probably had a bad day, no biggie. see you at pescadero, i truly expect you to be there!

Sean said...

Mike, I take the opposite approach to training, but my goal was and still is to minimise the bad days. So far this year my bad days came after my accident when you were trying to help me, and at that mtb race where I fell completely apart. The bad thing about that type of race is that you can't pull out. I had to suffer through it for what seemed like an etternity. My advise is to listen to your body and take time off when your really tired. I will ride even if I think should take a day off if I feel good. Don't worry about having a bad day, even Joel has them, but his bad day is stil my good day. No Pescadero, but after the Folsom crit a few of us are going camping outside Nevada City, and are going to race it Sunday. My goal is to stay in as long as Brian and Jordi. I guess it's a guy thing.

Anonymous said...

Mike, my guess is the heavy lifting the day before the race really effected your Sunday. I have had this happen just from walking around a venue and manning a booth the day before a race (Sea Otter) End result is your training is paying off, thus the amazing power profile you produced.


Mike Hardy said...

Ryan - I just pre-reg'd for Pescadero, whether it's Jekyll or Hyde, the race will at least be hairier with me there

Sean - no go on the camping, Pescadero is going to do it for me for the weekend

Dave - thanks for the vote of confidence, I hope you're right.

Something else I've been thinking about is that I have two massive fans on me when I'm on the trainer. I wonder if it's cooling-related? I usually over-dress when riding normally. This is very testable as well - I can turn the fans off while on the trainer.

I think I am getting stronger, but the results were just way too over normal vs days where I've had good prep to ignore. I believe (maybe incorrectly) that if I could figure out what set that session up, there's something I could do pre-race or while racing to get these numbers back.