So I thought it'd be fun to play scientist with Ragnar do a little data tracking before, during and after of HRV, sleep, overall mood/energy, "female stuff," and pre/post training quality, to see the effects of the race--in particular a night of sleep deprivation and three hard runs within 24 hours.
For a quick refresher on HRV, click here.
As I mentioned on my Ragnar race report blog, it wasn't the greatest of weeks leading into the event. I was due to start my period, which always throws me off for the week leading up, and I also was dealing with the death of an old friend whose funeral I attended two days before Ragnar started. Those certainly weren't going to help my chances of being tip-top. But I mitigated negative effects from "life circumstances" by severely reducing any workouts during the week.
Backing up a bit further, the week before Ragnar was a great week of running/crosstraining, highlighted by the weekend, which included:
- about 10.5 miles on Saturday 4/3 with 5 miles of a "loose" MAF test, meaning HR didn't want to stick at 150 despite the RPE of MAF, so I let it float around in the 150s. So I can't say it was completely accurate test data, but it did show an improvement of a few seconds--the bigger improvement being that I slowed down less (slowest mile was 8:08 vs 8:23 last time).
- about 12 miles of hilly trail running on Sunday 4/4, mostly at MAF (and/or 150s) feeling just as awesome and fresh as I did Saturday. Two back-to-back quality runs is surely a sign I'm getting fitter at running.
So, I didn't feel bad one bit about taking it easy the next ~5 days before Ragnar! The old me would have, I'm sure. Although, that said I usually have been pretty good at resting the week of a race and not panic training. If anything, my version of "panic training" was the opposite: I'd totally shut it down in fear of doing too much, and do just enough not to be stale. However, sometimes I I'm sure I was over-trained so who knows if it was too late to recover in just a week or two, but I digress.
By Tuesday 4/6, my avg HRV was 86, and it even climbed into the 90s, which is stellar for me. Normally my average--not great, not bad--HRV is the 70s. If it's 60s are below, that's a sign rest or destress is needed. If it's 80+ I'm stoked, 90s I'm thrilled.
Wednesday 4/7, I had one of those days where I just crashed, and I had to nap in the afternoon.... but that was also the day of the funeral, I had the PMS going on, and Monday/Tuesday had been crazy-long work days (like 10+ hours getting ready for ragnar time off), so it's no surprise. In addition to the nap I slept nearly 9 1/2 hours Wednesday night! I think this is called "sleep loading" before a night of no sleep ;)
Thursday 4/9, I was feeling great again, HRV avg 87 in the morning. I attribute this bounce back to 1) great sleep habits, 2) knowing when I need to be on; game on baby!
Friday 4/10 my morning HRV tanked a bit, but that's because I had a stupid early wakeup (like 4:30am WTF!) I'm guessing it was due to either too much sleep the nights prior and/or the excitement and anticipation of the day(s) ahead. My HRV avg at 5am was 69, boo. But my HRV is never good that early and I still felt great that day. I didn't re-measure in the morning, forgot, but I can assume it bounced back.
My first Ragnar run on Friday 4/10 was at 5ish pm, consisting of 6.75 miles balls-out hard, hilly running HR 165-180 mostly. For a gal who's running 150 HR on avg, that's a hard run. So, interestingly, after refueling and chilling out, by 10pm when my van was getting ready to go again, my HRV measured 91! Wow! That shocked me. I guess my body was happy and ready for more!!
It was never that good again, especially after run #2 and no sleep taking its toll.
I measured HRV three times on Saturday morning between 5am-8:30am and it was 66, 66, 70 on average. Never higher than 72. That actually didn't seem too terrible all things considered, not to mention ALL the caffeine I'd consumed in the last 24 hours.... it was a lot.
My third run was still a great performance--for my standards--and in fact just as fast as my first run in terms of overall average (even with the nasty 1.5-mile Torrey Pines climb!), so it just goes to show you CAN dig deep and execute a good performance even when you're clearly not at 100% anymore.
We were testing HRV after Ragnar on Saturday afternoon and the best avg I could eek out was a 69 (73 high) while being in the most restful, low-stress position possible--deep breathing and all. Yup, the runs had taken their toll. I truly gave it everything I had during each run, and I just trashed my body! Not too surprising; I'm known to do that when it's called for ;) That said, a few people in my van had HRVs in the 80s (!) after their legs were finished and they'd had a couple hours to "rest" at that point. Both girls. That was interesting to see. The rest of us were pretty low HRV...
Sunday 4/12, my morning HRV was 73, yay, not totally terrible! That was a relaxing, happy day... However, I will totally admit: I drank quite a bit! About three hearty glasses of white wine spread out over many hours, but still, that was A LOT for me. I didn't care, it was worth it. On the note of alcohol, I am good at keeping balance with how much I drink and it's not hard at all for me to cut back or cut it out completely regularly. However, after a hard race/event, I always let loose and enjoy. It's just how I am, and I don't see a reason to change. Would I be better without any wine? Maybe. But is life more fun with it? Yes. That said, I definitely don't regularly drink like I did on Sunday--good lord no way! In fact, over the next few days I had maybe a full glass of wine, if that.
On 4/13, HRV was back to 75-78 the couple times I measured, still didn't break 80. Now interestingly, I mentioned I was due to start my period before Ragnar. I didn't. Don't worry, not preggo ;) Instead, I started on Monday 4/13 after Ragnar! Sunday night my cramps were nearly unbearable (sorry if TMI) to the point where I was thinking in my half-asleep state that I had food poisoning from the burgers.
I know we're not always going to start on the exact due date, but my period is consistently coming on a perfectly predictable cycle these days, so I find it interesting that it was late. My conclusion? My body knew something was coming--aka Ragnar/racing--and it spared me the torture of starting during the event. OMG, could you imagine starting when you're in a van full of people you don't know that well?! I had tampons with me, but still.... THANK YOU BODY hahaha!!
Now: I want to see any research or anecdotal evidence of girls who are supposed to start their period when they're due to also race, but the period is delayed until after. Anyone?
On 4/14, I finally got HRV back into the 80s; however, avg was still 79.
By 4/15, HRV avg'd in the 80s again. Cool!
That's just HRV... how did I feel post-Ragnar? It was a standard recovery and nothing more than your typical race. I slept well nightly (8:15-8:45 hours per night; I normally average 8-8:15 a night) and I didn't feel the need for extra sleep to make up for no sleep--that is, until Thursday when all I wanted was a nap...
Sunday the day after I didn't do jack. Monday 4/13 I had so much work to do, but I did fit in an easy 4-mile hike with friends (that was enough!). Tuesday 4/14, I ran a slowwwww 4.1 miles in 38 minutes; totally cruise control (no HRM) plus I did slow weights during the day. Wednesday 4/15 was a light bike and a strength training circuit with aerobic run intervals on treadmill and all that felt good; muscle fatigue of Ragnar gone. But then Thursday I was tired and took the day off from working out, and I even crashed in the afternoon to the point where I just had to shut it all down, work included. Now, I think a large part of that crash was allowing more-than-normal doses of caffeine and wine; it caught up (that cycle can be a viscous, beware). Lesson learned. Backed off on both. Easy.
Friday 4/17 I had a double run day totaling about 9 miles, and it was still slow but I was happy to get back to a bit of volume in one day's time. Saturday 4/18 I was antsy to go for it but forced myself to make it an easy day because Maffetone had a long run scheduled for Sunday that he wanted to be quality. I'm trying to follow (some) directions here, people, haha.... So Saturday I did a 3.5-mile SUP (plus the "strength session" of carrying the 23lb board close to 1 mile) and I did a 45min easy spin literally less than 100w avg (now that's what I call an easy bike!).
Not overdoing it Saturday paid off because on Sunday my long run was pretty good, mostly. It was good because I held a solid pace of 8:00-8:30s with HR 150s on every running mile except one during which I walked a hill (it was 8:26 avg, 153 HR avg for ~2hr). Then there was a non-run portion of the workout that included pre- and post-run walking to add volume, that's the MAF way! I'll continue this format the next 3-4 weeks building to 3+hrs.
Now, the bad part of this run was the fact that I somehow went into this underfueled and I bonked, which is extremely unlike me! I haven't bonked once since training for the marathon (nor have a bonked since....2013?) and I can only guess that I just didn't have enough on board going into it despite eating well yesterday and having breakfast prior to this run. I didn't bring any fuel because I never usually need it for runs ~2hr. Despite the bonk I still held pace/HR. But it didn't really feel good, ya know? Oh well, again, lesson learned.
So that's the story of how Ragnar did its thang, and how my body handled it... it seems pretty standard and nothing out of the ordinary. Anyone else have a crazier Ragnar/ultra relay recovery experiences--either really fast recovery or really shitty recovery?