This is a little late, but here it is. Some of you might have seen the live workout video I did on Facebook, substituting a speed bag session for a run session. If you haven't and want to, it was posted April 21st, 2017–you don't need to see it to understand what follows, but it's there if you're interested.
What it basically came down to was giving my lower body a bit of a rest, especially with my currently broken metatarsal, but still getting an aerobic workout in. I decided to use my speed bag because (a) it's a good workout and (b) it's awesomely fun. Those are generally the only criteria I look for in a session, so off I went to do a type of workout I genuinely enjoy. It's great to have that kind of freedom, or at least you would think it is.
The original workout was supposed to be a 40 minute zone two run with bookend warmup and cooldown periods. What it ended up being was this:
That, my friends, is not a zone two workout.
The great thing is that Polar makes it easy to see just how far off the mark you are by color coding your heart rate analysis. Starting on the left, you can see that I'm supposed to be maintaining a heart rate in the grey (zone one) and blue (zone two) until the 10 minute mark, at which point I enter the green band (zone three) until my cooldown begins. If you're paying attention at this point, you can see just how badly I whiffed those targets. I mean, it wasn't even close.
Off to the right of the screen, you can see a percentage breakdown of how much time was spent in what zone. Again, my program was looking for 30 total minutes in zone three and I clocked...3:12. Yikes. Zone four ended up getting 28 minutes worth of my effort and there was even a smattering of zone five for a short stretch. I came in hot and stayed that way until the bitter end.
Why is this a bad thing? For a single workout, it's not really. I mean, the higher your intensity, the more you risk injury; however, with a relatively low impact and low amplitude exercise (like the speed bag), you're fairly safe. Where things become problematic, though, is when you look at that session in the context of my overall training program. That's where the cracks start to show.
For instance, even though I gave my lower body a relatively easy day of standing in place, the cardiac load I generated by ignoring the zones I was supposed to be in was actually quite high. As a result, my heart rate variability score dropped a full point the next day. My legs were "rested" but my nervous system was put on notice. This is why planning and programming are so important. I overtrained acutely for what? Nothing obvious, that's for sure.
When the program you are committed to tells you one thing, I'm not sure why you would think it's a good idea to do another. In other words, before you throw yourself off track tell yourself this:
Because as good as that session might have felt in the moment, it didn't do anything to get me closer to my goals. If anything, it set me back.
What started out as a pretty good idea turned stupid. I couldn't maintain discipline in that moment and abide by the heart rate zones prescribed in the program I chose and trust to help me achieve the desired outcomes I have set for my athletic endeavours. Instead, I ignored the session guidelines and went all in because I was having fun. Really? Ugh.
All that was missing was somebody saying that you can't juggle axes for cardio and me turning to them and saying, "Hold my beer." Dumbass.
I needed to stay "in the zone" and stay in my zones. I didn't. More the fool was I.
Has there been any long term impact on my recovery now that there is some time and distance? Not that I can see or feel, which is great; I don't think I could handle another injury while I deal with this broken foot. But that doesn't really excuse the behavior.
There are two key lessons here and the first is that you have to respect your planning or what's the point? You might as well just roll dice or use a deck of cards to tell you how to train. It makes no sense to have a program or a plan, then veer wildly off of it for the sake of your endorphins. That's not training–that's "entertrainment" and nobody great ever got there by "entertraining" themselves to the podium.
The second lesson? That there is such a thing as too much freedom.