A popular topic lately among several triathlon blogs I follow centers around rest, lack there of, when, and determining how often. Listening to my body is a great way, but unfortunately it can be a lagging indicator (stealing a word from my professional life…). By the time my body is telling me it needs rest, it means right now, right here. A better way to find out earlier, or a leading indicator, would be much more helpful. I recently discovered a helpful gadget (yes, another one I couldn’t resist). It is a pulse oximeter which measures oxygen saturation and pulse just by clipping it on to your pointer finger. Monitoring my morning resting heart rate is something I have tried to do. My problem is that after my alarm goes off, I hit snooze, try to get back to a resting rate to count my pulse but I tend to fall back asleep… This takes care of the counting for me. Also knowing oxygen saturation is helpful, it should be in the 95% to 99% range.
What am I learning as a leading indicator by monitoring my resting heart rate? An early sign of fatigue or overtraining first shows up in an elevated resting heart rate. This morning mine was about 12 beats higher than normal. I still did my morning speed work and ran 8 x 400 repeats. I had a good run, but my heart rate monitor showed a consistently higher heart rate than I usually have. By 3:00 this afternoon I was ready for bed. I did a little reflecting too and realized I have not had a rest day since May 19th. I have a day off this Saturday since I am racing on Sunday. Once day off every three to four weeks is not the best for me I am seeing.
So I have done a little reworking to my schedule. Much to my running friend’s dismay, I am going to alter a Thursday run every other week. I have noticed I am good for just over two weeks without a rest day before fatigue starts to set it. Since I have been swimming and cycling three times a week and running four times, it makes sense to cut out a run. Thursdays are my “regular” pace runs, no speed, tempo, or long run. So starting next Thursday every other week I will skip the run, still lift and possibly add yoga. As for my brick run on the Saturdays that week, I will add a few miles so my overall mileage doesn’t fall off by much.
As much as I want to consider myself invincible (yes, I am woman), I am human. I do want to be as strong and healthy as possible to stay fit, do well in my races, and live a long healthy life. So every once in a while, I have to assess and make little changes here and there. One of my all time favorite books is The Great Gatsby. Gatsby’s greatest character flaws were in his search for perfection and unwillingness to bend from his grand plan. In the end it brought his demise. A lot can be learned from that story. As for me, I am more than willing to bend if it means I won’t break.