Tip: Listen to your body, pay attention to the signs/signals. Sometimes these signals come from different places.
The other day, I cycled out to meet up with the in-town Atlanta Tuesday night hammer group. As I was riding over, each hill seemed taller and steeper than necessary. I was looking for more gears than the bike has available…. and I started to realiz this was not going to be a hammer night for me. Maybe I’m just not warmed up yet – it has happened before – I feel rough for 10-20 miles, then suddenly the muscles warm-up and are ready to go to work.
As I rode up another climb, I attempted to shift to an easier gear – I was in the easiest…. I peeked at the Heart Rate (HR) monitor and sure enough I was about 15 beats lower for the effort that my body felt like it was at. This was a sign that my HR was not responding to the effort that my body was attempting to put out. Was my central nervous system suppressing the Heart? Or is it that the heart muscle was too fatigued to move the amount of blood that my body normally needs for this effort. Either way, it wasn’t there.
I spun easy for a few more miles and started up another rolling hill – still my HR was reaching the normal numbers, and my legs were grumpy about the strain I was putting them through. So, instead of meeting up with the group, I made the turn to go along the same route ahead of them, and spin much easier.
Your body sends you signals about what is going on, it is your brains job to interpret what those signals mean. For me, I did trail work on Saturday, I did a 5 hour ride on Sunday, Monday was off. My HR wasn’t getting to the upper range (zone 4) like it should have for the effort I was putting out.
The night before I happened to check my HR as I was ‘trying’ to fall asleep and it was about 5-7 beats high.
All of these added up means that I needed another day of rest, and since I was already on the bike, I did an easy, active recovery spin. There is no gain in stressing your body when what it needs to get stronger is recovery.
When you pay attention to the signals that your body is giving you, it becomes much easier to put them together to realize what they all mean.