Last night I threw Spinervals Aero Base Builder #4 in and got down to business. Aero #4 is basically a solid hour of zone 2; no intervals.
After about five minutes, I just didn’t have it. I had nothing. Sometimes this just happens.
I couldn’t hold z2 at all, let alone barely reach the bottom of it. After a half an hour, I was pretty frustrated. Something was up; could have been the big lunch I had a few hours prior; could have been the overzealous 2.5 hours I was out in the cold on Saturday.
At this point, the workout had been, in my opinion, “junk”. Not what I planned to do. Not at the intensity I needed. I was getting pretty pissed off, and was ready to bail and just call it a night.
Then I had an idea – completely switch goals for the night. Change things completely. Since the aerobic part of the workout was a bust, covert this to a functional workout. So I immediately abandoned heart rate monitoring, and invented a physical challenge instead. Pedal one legged, five minutes at a time.
This was actually quite a challenge, especially with your weaker leg. To get through it you are forced to really concentrate. After about a minute you can tell this isn’t going to be easy. But doing ten minutes of this, plus a five minute cooldown with both legs again, and the frustration of the past half hour was gone. Workout saved.
I think there’s an important lesson here. You’re not going to be “on” every time. This should be rare, but when it does happen, you should be prepared.
What you should NOT do is plow along and fight through it. I did that early last year, and that is exactly how you burn out. It will light the fuse of overtraining.
Be prepared to abandon the day’s goal, take it 180 degrees on its head and transform it into something else; something completely different. Or be prepared to just say “hey, today isn’t the day – let’s stop and see what tomorrow brings”.
In my case, I’m not even touching a bike for at least a week while I focus on completely different activities. This tactic is the best overtraining defense.
Having had overtraining syndrome last year, the hardest thing about this year is being conscious of it. Overtraining is very very very mental. Once you’ve had it once, it’s a bit of a long-term mindf*ck. Will it happen again? Is what I’m feeling the start of OT syndrome again? The best thing is to log your activity, try to identify patterns of behavior that got you into OT, and learn from them.
Good example is last year, when I had this exact same feeling during a workout, I plowed ahead with the workout, and then piled on two very intense rides that week. It was the beginning of the end. It basically put me in a box labeled “overtrained”, screwed the box shut, and rounded off the heads. Combined with the DST change that week, I never recovered.