The first two days of August ended my more intense training for the last race of the year, the Steelman Olympic Triathlon. Then it was a week of taper leading up to the race. Steelman is a very well organised and attended local race that provides some fast competitors. I had not competed at this event in 3 years, so I was eager to see if and how much I had improved after putting a few Ironman’s under my belt. The training leading up to this was much more intense than I am used to, but I was enjoying the decrease in volume compared to Ironman Training. As we saw in last months’ post, it was well received by my HRV too.
The first full week of August was a fairly light training load with the race being on the following Sunday. Unfortunately the taper week started off a bit rough for me. My dog, Yuki, who had been battling stage 4 Lymphoma for the last 5 months had taken an abrupt downturn. He stopped eating and eventually drinking. On Monday, August 3rd my wife and I had to make the very difficult decision to say goodbye to him for the last time. It hit me pretty hard since Yuki and I were pretty close. He had been our running buddy, would lay nearby as I hammered out workouts on the trainer and was even there to cheer me on during my first Ironman.
My taper seemed to taper a bit more than I had planned. I was struggling to find the motivation to do any type of training for the first day or two after Yuki had passed. But, I knew that that was thing I needed more than anything at that time. My HRV actually went up the day after we put him down, but then nose-dived the day after that. Perhaps I had recovered quicker that day since I really didn’t do anything except lay around. But my HRV dropped heavily the day after that, once the loss had sunk in a bit.
I had finally resumed some biking and a little swimming by the mid-week which eventually brought my HRV up again. The rest of the week leading up to the race saw a very erratic HRV. The ups-and-downs of life revealing themselves in my HRV for sure.
The Steelman Olympic Triathlon was a pretty successful one for me. My goal was to be top 10 in my age group and I managed to get 8th. There are some really fast guys in my age group, so getting a podium here would only happen if a few guys didn’t show up. I put all I had out on that course and I did improve immensely in each discipline over the last time I competed in this race. You can read more about the race here for the details. It was a good way to end a season which had not been one of my better ones. Hopefully, I can build on this momentum next season.
From a HRV perspective, I seemed to have responded well after the race too. The day after the race saw an average reading of in the mid-70’s and then shot up into the high 80’s. Things started to decline from there as I took a deep dive into off-season mode. I notice that my HRV responds well to moderate and consistent training. Extremely hard or non-existent training seem to push it in the opposite direction. Apparently moderation really is the key.
Midway through the month, we headed up to the Finger Lakes region of New York for a long weekend on Keuka Lake. I spent much of the weekend Stand-Up Paddleboarding on Lake Keuka. This was very relaxing as well as a good core workout. A perfect activity to kick-off the off-season.
After returning home, I spent several days in off-season relax-mode. Before long I found myself in need of getting back to doing some training again, but I needed some event to focus on. There is a nearby 50k ultra trail run, called the Blues Cruise, which a friend of ours had done a few years ago. I had always entertained the idea of possibly doing that someday, so there is no time like the present! I signed up. I know it is a bit ambitious since it is only about 6 weeks away, so I have my work cut out for me.
This explains the increase in TSS(Training Stress Score) in the second to the last recorded week in the above graph. I have started logging some trail running miles which have been a really fun change of pace. I have also added in some mountain biking & SUP time for a little cross-training too. I love being in the woods or on the water and these are activities I haven’t had much time for in the last few years.
As you can see in the graph above, my HRV was on a downward trend as I was getting fairly lazy, but it has been rebounding gradually higher as I get back to a consistent training load again.
It should be an interesting journey as I “dip my toe” into the world of ultra/trail-running. It seems like a laid back and fun culture of people, which is perfect for the off-season. I happy to be back training again and have a goal to keep me and my HRV going in the right direction. Stay tuned and next month we can see how all those long miles on the trails affect my HRV.