Training for recovery
I remember when I first discovered that I could recover from being winded on a run, while still running that run. In South Carolina, our instructors would hearten us to breath on the down hills. I thought that was nuts–after a lung-bursting run up some long-ass hill, I thought, “What I need to damn do is STOP!” Amazingly, I discovered that I could recover on the down hill–at least enough to finish the run.
That lesson was well learned. It marinated in my subconscious. I used it in an instinctive, unverbalized way countlessly over the years since. Recover in those moments when things suck less. Recently, however, I have been training specifically for recovery, more so than any other specific criteria.
This was first verbalized for me when I read how Paula Newby-Fraser, the multiple Ironman Champion, explained how she can recover on the run at a higher heart rate than her competitors. She obliterated her competitors, when things really sucked, by being able to recover faster when they didn’t suck as much. I now train straight at this ability.
When doing pull ups, I focus on reducing the rest periods between sets, as much as I do the reps in each set.
When swimming laps, I’m intent on my ability to slow my pace or switch up my stroke, so I can recover enough to pick up my pace again.
My brick and transition runs are about what pace can I maintain, no matter how bad I’m hurting–No matter how bad it sucks. Not so much how fast can I run today off the bike.
Running this new distance for me, the olympic triathlon, and the prospect of my looming half Ironman, have brought this into perspective. I have had to let go of ego, and ensure first that I can finish a race. To that end, recovery while racing has become critical.
I have had cramps where I’ve never cramped in a race before, ever. I’ve had side stitches, once on both sides, but those aren’t the deblitating, you-might-not-be-able-to-use-your-leg-if-this-gets-worse cramps. When those start to come on, ego has to go. Recovery and continuous forward motion must take its place. Ego can come back once you get over the finish line. Recovery must come so that you can get to the finish line.
Train for recovery.