Today marked a significant step in my return from injury. Of the 16-weeks of base training I have planned, I have now completed 4 weeks.
The first 4-weeks are mere introduction, in the SERIOUS programme, they only take up 6% of the years volume (the only other 4-week cycle of the same small size are the last 4-weeks of the "Racing" phase where I will wind down towards the Recovery period's complete rest).
Week 5-8, which lie ahead, form 7% of the yearly total, and this will move to 8% in 9-12 and 9% in 13-16.
The predictor sheet I use was fairly accurate, it cannot correctly factor in hill runs (as you generally expand more effort during a hill run to run less mileage than you would on the roads). Time-wise I have been hitting my scheduled time down to the minute every week so far (call me a chronological fascist, but I am Danish!).
Mileage wise my estimator had calculated 179.4km in the first 4 weeks, whilst I ended up completing 169.89km. The one week when I left out hill runs (due to a weird pain I get in my knee on sharp descents for the last 9 days), week 4, I beat my allotted mileage.
I also completed all workouts as scheduled and while a few (2) fell a bit short of my Target Pace, I beat or met the pace in all others, often going down as far as TPL 25-28 (the 25 was achieved this week on the track preparing for my mile).
My sheet also allows me to monitor HR in relation to speed, and some of the improvements I have seen are:
Wk 3: 12.7kph (road) - 166bpm
Wk 4: 12.7kph (track) - 158bpm
Something quite interesting, however, is an inconsistency I have detected in the relation between Perceived Effort and actual HR and speed. Early in the week I often find myself crunching out about 4:44min/km easily while its much harder at the end of the week (when I am supposed to do it). In the beginning of the week, after the Monday rest, I basically do it without trying, while it takes effort on the Sunday. The difference in HR is only slightly different, though.
This is a possible indicator of the Central Governor Theory. If cardiovascular factors were the main constraint of speed vs. fatigue it's unlikely I would see such a difference between the effort needed to run at the same speed within the same week (I assume fuel plays no part, as I have been sufficiently fuelled for all exercises, also I have taken note when I was prefatigued due to lack of sleep or similar. None of these factors play in here).
What I believe this indicates is that my muscles are freshest at the beginning of the week, while the whole week's training has taken its toll come Sunday. Matt Fitzgerald believes the main factor of fatigue is that muscle damage causes a substance called interleukin-6 to flow from the muscles which the brain, in turn, picks up as a warning signal and forces you to reduce speed in order to protect the muscles from undue damage.
Or in layman's terms, the degree to which you will fatigue is equal to the degree of muscle damage you're currently suffering. Incidentally, while this makes the session harder, training in this "pre-fatigued state" adapts the brain to accept higher levels of interleukin-6 before inducing fatigue which is very useful for racing performance.
A word of warning, though, too much muscle damage will make you unable to complete even the simplest workouts meaning you will not be able to run at the speed you are trying to adjust your brain to accept. This is counterproductive. Thus keeping muscle damage from your training within reasonable limits is key to long periods of sustained quality training.
This lesson thus learned, I will move forward to week 5-8, where I hope to complete around 218km or 55 on average pr. week.