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fatigue, please help

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 8:51 am
by kendyl
I am hoping someone on here can give me some advice on my daughter. She is a dedicated Junior, doing about 45 miles a week, with a strong base. She is near the end of her season, where she has raced weekly. She started feeling tired a week ago, had a few rough days. On Friday, she had an important invite 3200, where she forgot to take off her Garmin Heartrate monitor. The race went out extremely fast, where she hit the 800 at her mile race pace. She had a rough race (off by about 25 seconds). I know she was going all out, and the race was very important to her. Later that night, I looked at her watch and saw that her max heart rate for the race was only a 161, when her normal max is 203. The next morning, she had to run the 4x800, where I asked her to wear it. Again, max was around 158.
I know that when fatigued, your heart rate is usually higher, but could it also be lower? I've tried to find information on this subject, but could not.

Re: fatigue, please help

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:40 am
As a place to start, I would go to see a doctor who understands how to treat athletes.
To learn more about heart rate on the run zone, you most likely want to search the words heart rate monitor rather than just heart rate.
For example, from 2011:
Glad you have you post here!

Typically when your heart rate doesn't go up to where it should be the cause is related to glycogen depletion. Usually this happens when you combine hard training with either high volume or hot and humid weather training. When the heat index is high, you burn more "sugar," as you run along. Since you elevated mileage recently, your "tank" is low. The same thing happens in the Tour De France during years when it's hot and humid. Riders will see their heart rates at 120 beats per minute, yet if they let it go up to the 130's they feel like they are riding at tempo effort, not an easy effort, and if they hit 150's they feel like it's darn hard, and once they hit 165-170 they are nearly flat-out (not much left). That's not normal, of course, but they are so glycogen depleted (an hormonally depleted) that their true maximum heart rate has dropped significantly, and so the values associated with specific percentages are lower too. A 150 heart rate, for example, which is normally about 75% of maximum and a comfortable pace that they can ride for several hours, becomes 85% of maximum because their peak HR is suppressed. The same thing happens to runners.

HR is variable; it has different meanings for different days, and even the time of day. For example, at 6 am a HR of 140 may feel like a good effort (not easy, but not quite tempo), but at 5pm a 140 HR feels like you aren't working - it's like a jog. Another situation is when you consume a bunch of carbs in a 2-3 day period and you reduce training; your peak HR goes up and every value associated with specific percentages goes up. I no longer run - bad hips - but I bike a lot in my garage. I use a power meter trainer and my HR monitor. I can go out there at 6 am and do a VO2 max test (well, a 6 to 7 minute test flat-out) and hit no more than 169-171 HR. Another time of the day, say 4-5 pm, I can hit 180-182 HR while doing the same type of test.

My suggestions to you: First, use effort and pace more than heart-rate. HR should be a support tool. If you can't raise your heart rate but you push the pace a little and it feels hard, then you are over-trained and need to back off; jog a couple days and consume a lot of carbs. If you can easily raise your HR and it keeps going up easily, then you may be dehydrated. I can tell you this: A low heart rate is often more of a problem than a high heart rate. Yet, in all cases, you must adjust to feel. However, if you know what the proper pace is supposed to be (adjusting for weather, terrain, and time of day), then your effort and heart rate should fall in line.

You might take a look at my Heat Index Chart in the Tinman Charts section on the home page of The Run Zone. If you sign up (it's free), then you can see the charts. You'll be able to adjust paces according to heat index, and that way you won't overtrain.

Re: fatigue, please help

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 11:47 am
by kendyl
Thanks so much for your response. I found that post very informative. I will look into finding a doctor who works with athletes, however, I'm not sure where to start. I do know her iron/ferritin is fine. If she is dealing with glycogen depletion, would it have effected her, even in a two mile race? Also, would a few easy days and lots of carbs help?

Re: fatigue, please help

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 8:27 am
Finding a doctor who can treat an athlete is always challenging. Similarly, attempting to figure this out over the web just isn't enough.

How do you know her iron/ferritin is fine? Is it fine for a sedentary person or fine compared to her levels when she was running really well? I think the glycogen depletion is a similar question. There can be fine to attend school vs fine to train vs fine to race.

I think glycogen definitely is an issue in a 3200. It falls into the far-fast category below. How did she do, time wise, in the 4x800?

I am not a coach so my experience is limited in depth. I do know most of what is posted on here so I thought you might be interested in this post from 2010:

"Legs can be tired in different ways. If you are doing too intense (fast) training, your legs will have a limit in power output and endurance. However, if you rest the result is the ability to run fast for a short distance, but seldom for a long distance.

Another form of fatigue in legs deals with glycogen being low. The thing is, a 50% reduction in glycogen can make your legs feel very tired, but the truth is, once you have a solid, extended, warm up, you can run up to about 10k-12km well. When glycogen is low, you really don't have to rest; all you have to do is run slowly (to burn fats as a primary energy source) plus fuel-up with carbs and fluids; in no time you can run far-fast.

More: When you make the mistake of running a bunch of fast reps, for example, building acidosis, your legs get wiped-out, and you can't run well over long distances, until you refurbish your aerobic pathways through long distance running. However, as mentioned above, you can run well over short distance by resting; it's just that you can't sustain a given percentage of maximum speed/pace for very long. For events of 800m or less, resting tends to work great. For events of 1500m or longer, resting too much will kill your stamina, and you will sprint fine during the first 1/3rd of the race, but soon you'll "die" and hit a wall of acidosis. The remedy is plenty of slow distnace running - until your body regains endurance. Once endurance is regained, then you can do stamina work - the mid-range stuff from marathon to 10k pace; to add staying power to the speed you worked on, as a middle distance runner.

Re: fatigue, please help

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 11:46 pm
by kendyl
Thanks for your response and help. I have had her iron checked every 6 months for the last two years. Her ferritin level is always between 40-50. The race went out extremely fast, where she hit the 800 at 2:36. She can run an 10:59 minute 3200 and 5:06 mile, so this first 800 was way too fast for the 3200. She hit the mile at 5:21 and progressively got worse from there. Her finishing time was 11:24. I know the fast pace that she went out at contributed to her slow race, but perplexed by the heart rate being low. The next morning she had to compete in the 4x800, of which she was exhausted and I wish she didn't have to run. She ran it in 2:32(her best is 2:20). Again, her heart rate only got to 150 max.
I am concerned about what I saw last Friday and Saturday morning. I think she might be overly tired and just needs to run some slow/easy mileage for a few days: however, I am not her coach and she has another important and large race(1600) this Friday that she will have to run.

Re: fatigue, please help

Posted: Sat Mar 30, 2019 6:38 am
by kendyl
I wanted to follow up, in case there in another runner dealing with similar fatigue as my daughter. Las night, she ran the 1600 and was happy with her race (1 second off PR) More importantly than the time, for the first time this season, in a race, she felt good. After her very disappointing 3200 and 4x800 last Friday and Saturday, this is what she did: (She normally does 45 miles a week. She only ran 35 this week. She will go back up next week)
Sunday off
Monday, a VERY slow and short run with a 30 minute slow swim
Tuesday, a light workout (2x1000, 2x300)
Wednesday, an extremely slow run with a few strides at mile pace
Thursday, an extremely slow run with a few strides
Friday morning, 1 1/2 mile very slow jog. Race in the evening
I also had her eat more carbs this week

I'm still not sure what caused her to have a few weeks of feeling bad in races.
My thoughts... going too hard in workouts, even though she thought she was sticking to proper paces. ( She would always have a VERY big workout on Tuesday and then feel really tired on her runs Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.) She also might not have been going slow enough on her easy days. I also think weekly races took their toll. I'm not sure this is the case, and time will tell.
I talked a while with the coach last night and the coach is going to tweak a few things, since my daughter seems to break down once weekly races start.

Re: fatigue, please help

Posted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 8:15 am
Glad to hear things are heading in the right direction.

My guess is that your daughter is approaching the point at 2-3 years of speed/VO2 training where it helps less. Tom describes it here. Even it you don't feel that your daughter has truly been trained that way, often the rigors of a HS racing schedule on the better athletes combines to produce a similar problem especially when combined with academic rigor.

"I'd like to clarify a point about stamina training. I have been told by coaches that they do stamina work because they have their runner doing workouts like 6 x 800m. I ask about the pace, the 800m runners times over 1500, 3000, 5000, and 10000m, and I find out the reps at 5000m to 3000m pace. On the surface many people might think this is stamina work because the intervals/reps are fairly long for an 800m runner. I don't see it that way. I think slower paced reps, more of them, develop stamina better. It's why I use CV pace as a guide. I know that CV pace develops stamina to a very high level for all runners, even middle distance runners. CV pace is set at 90% of Vo2 max, which I believe is ideal for developing the aerobic capacity of fast (intermediate) fibers (type IIa). In my schemata of training, the type IIa fibers are the most important for track racing distances.

To demonstrate my idea; let me give an example of what I do not consider good stamina training:

Runner's performance time: 4:01 in the 1500m (about 4:20 in the mile); 8:50 in the 3000m; 15:40 in the 5000m.
(This runner has more speed than stamina, as the trend toward a lower performance level appears as the race-distance lengthens.)

80 miles per week: two runs per day, most days; including distance runs at 7:00-6:15 per mile, 600s to 1200's at 5000-3000m pace, or 1500-800m race-pace reps on the track.

Yet, despite the volume of training, 5k-3km paced reps, this runners' 3000m time is on a lower performance level than his/her 1500m time. And, to illustrate the point further; this runner's 5000m time is on a lower performance level than his/her 3000m time. It's a trend that show this runner's stamina is poor. That is, this runner probably has good speed and a strong VO2 max, but they are lacking in stamina, so they are not holding a high percentage of their VO2 max during races.

The problem is most runner hit a ceiling in the speed quickly and their Vo2 max a little less quickly, so further training in these areas produces less and less improvement. Continuing to train the above runner with heavy doses of speed and VO2 max will not make them improve over the 1500m race-distance - their specialty - after 2-3 years. Even running 80 miles per week won't help them get off the 4:01 plateau.

How is the problem solved? In my opinion; stamina training is the solution. I would prescribe slower paced, long intervals @ CV to 15km pace, progressive tempo runs over hills, and long distance runs with the pace increasing as fatigue sets in.

Note this strategy is (more or less) akin to the Lydiard philosophy of regularly performing plenty of long distance running at a good/strong aerobic pace. The goal, I think, of Lydiard's focus is developing stamina; to expand a runner's ability to hold a high fraction of their peak speed longer. "

Re: fatigue, please help

Posted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 11:27 am
by kendyl
Thanks again for all your help. I agree with you about the stamina running and the vo2 max and faster workouts. What are your thoughts when its extremely hot and humid, such as 95-100 degree's or 80 degrees but 95-100% humidity for months at a time. Suddenly, those threshold workouts have the heart rate of VO2 max. What are some ideas to handle this issue? Slow down the pace or take more frequent breaks, but keep the pace normal? I've often wondered what would be the better way to handle this. For example, if doing a 3 mile tempo, normally done at 6:10 pace. Would it be better to run the tempo at a 6:30 pace or take 30-60 second breaks to bring body temp and heart rate down, but the pace stay at 6:10.

Re: fatigue, please help

Posted: Thu Apr 04, 2019 9:02 am
If you look under the "stuff" tab at the top of the page there is a good article about hydration.

Back in 2010 Tom wrote:

Friends at The Run Zone:
Under the "Tinman Tools" tab you'll find an updated version of the Tinman Heat Index Chart.
To read it: find the pace you ran at a given Heat Index (which combines temperature and relative humidity), and then move up or down the column to determine what paces you would have likely run at other Heat Indexes. Or, you can seek a pace, shown in the top row (left to right), and look at the column below it to compare paces at various Heat Indexes.
Happy Running!

I can't find the tools or charts tab at this point but google found the chart here: