So what happened out there at Otter? Did the supercompensation kick in and did I have the magical race I dreamt of?
Yes, and no.
Supercompensation was there, for sure. Last year, I suffered immensely in the back half of the race on the hills and really struggled with fatigue. This year, I cruised the hills and made up plenty time on every hill we went up. They felt easy. I was going very well uphill, trying to mimic the standing position on the bike so that I was using the muscles that I used at CCC. I felt extremely fresh the whole race, even after 5 hours of running I felt quite fresh.
But the race wasn’t smooth sailing.
My knee gave out with 8km to go, as I was blitzing my way through the field. It meant I had to walk the downhills, where it was the only problem. Walking down rocky descents is pretty slow going comparative to running them. My knees were just not adapted to the downhill demands of trail running, having not really run specifically for that in 4 weeks. It showed. I could still run uphill and run slowly on the flat, but the downhill motion of braking for control was no more on my right knee. Bummer, as it cost me a top 15 overall and the elusive sub 5 hour run for sure.
Also, my “trail fitness” or rather, lack thereof, showed immensely. I ran into a tree stump, at head height, no less than twice. The 2nd time it knocked me right off my feet and thankfully, nobody was around to see. I was just not aware of how much space I was taking up. I am normally pretty good on the trails but I had two left feet all day at Otter.
I also stacked it in some rocks in a riverbed, but this could happen to anyone.
So there were great moments and not so great moments out there, but what really stood out was how easy it was to just keep running. Supercompensation at its best.
Two days later, I felt it necessary to take an easy pedal along my beloved coastline.
The climb to Llandudno felt flat. Suikerbossie, felt flat. Was this the dream come true? 4-5% felt effortless and even though I could hardly walk from Otter, I merrily cruised these hills, mouth closed or chatting away to my buddy who I was riding with.
More supercompensation showing.
Then a thought hit me – how long till these felt steep again? How long, till this effect wore off.
The thought pattern moved onto training for specific races on specific courses and having to overestimate your courses to be much tougher in training so that race day felt easy, flat. It all made sense and came together to me in that one piece of road. This was the dream – this is how the best do it.
This severe adaptation, its a pretty cool thing and has given me a renewed joy for the abilities of the human body. So much exploring to do in the next while.
A quick example:
I would do the following overload severe adaptation 10 days as a prep for an Ironman.
150-180km hilly ride every day. Mountains if possible. On an adapted road bike with aerobars. A great combination of vertical and long, false flats.
10km run every day, in the afternoon. Ironman race pace, plus a strong last 2km.
Eat like a champion & sleep like a champion. Focus on finishing, not pace. Focus on recovery, not performance.
Finish 4 weeks before the big day out.
Focus for 3 weeks on shorter, race specific sessions. Keep them tougher than the race. Hillier, harder, but not nearly the length of anything are about to experience.
1 week taper. Feet up. Sleep. Eat.
Rock out! The race will feel pretty easy based on this I think.
Simple… not easy.