Monday, March 14, 2011

Central Governor, or just poor planning?

What perfect timing for the Scientists at Science of Sport blog to post this! 

After yesterday trying to figure out my pacing, and noting how I had begun the run at 7:15-7:30 mile splits, to finish at 8:30-9:00 splits.  Very interesting decline in my running performance, for a relatively stable HR, stayed at 150 pretty much the entire time, which gives me quite a bit of upward potential if needed.  10 miles is not a tremendous distance for me, as last year while much less fit and weighing in at around 10lbs heavier, I had run 13 miles with average pace of 7:45 with a buddy.  He was preparing for a marathon, and I was just out for some hang out run time.

Yesterday my pacing stayed quite stable up until around mile 5 where I started to have some pain in the right knee and hit the only decent sized rain drops of the whole run.  This was around 40 min into the trip.  So using the theory that Dr. Ross Tucker presents, I could have encountered the "Governor" they describe.  1. I had an injury developing in the knee, 2. nutritionally I needed some fuel.  Two distinct "Homeostats" where firing.  It was really quite wild to feel like I was exerting the same effort (verified by the HR monitor as well), but to notice the splits slowing down.  

Disappointing, but realized that at least 1 "Homeostat" was my own fault, nutrition.  That is something that I remember vowing to learn lessons from in the past on a bike.  But this was to be a short 1:30 or so, didn't need fueling for that... oops.  Gel always on hand from now on.

More than likely, I would have still run into a "Governor" in the form of the knee pain, and possible exacerbated injury.  Gladly I did slow down, and pretty sure it would have taken a tremendous effort to keep the original pacing from miles 7-10.
What is interesting is I wonder if the "Governor" can be adjusted to be more accurate based on practical experience with the given sport.  For example, the more frequently you ride your bicycle, the better the unconscious has to adapt it's anticipated load (nutrition, heat, oxygen).  Also, with training some of the delivery methods will adapt to higher stress loads.  Such as increased capillary beds for type 1 muscle tissue, and more efficient fat glycolysis for nutrition, or even increased hemoglobin and lung utilization to compensate for lower oxygen transport (see sherpas for huge adaptations!)
Nutrition I'll take as poor planning on my part, but I don't think had nearly as big of an affect on the run speed.  A protective response to minimize damage to tissue around the knee, that is pretty convincing.  Thank you Ross Tucker at The Science of Sport for the research.  It's truly intriguing.

Hmm, I'm posting this rambling email in my blog. I hope it may be useful to some sports scientist somewhere, and that would be excellent to see more research on this topic.