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  • Richard Cash

171 - Energy DOMS and Supercompensation

When you've had a long time out from any meaningful training, it's easy to expect that things aren't all that bad. That I didn't lose too much fitness, and that I still have superhuman powers of recover. Errr.... no. That's not the case at all. When you've had a solid 9 months of progressive consistent training, like I had last year, you can get pretty fit. You end up with bundles of physical adaptations, and can eat up the miles you put through your legs with ease. 3 months off, and you can kiss most of that goodbye.

Getting back what you lost is not quick, and it's not easy. The last 10 days training has shown me that.

Boiling the ocean in the early weeks is not the approach, and however fit you were, your body needs to begin to adapt to the stress you are putting on it all over again. It's pretty frustrating.

I picked an initial training load that felt a mild stretch but fairly comfortable, however with one of my new habits being meaningful strength work (which I didn't really do at all the last couple of years), I hadn't really considered the effects.

My strength routine is pretty simple:

Session 1 -

  • One leg squats (I weigh 105kg so no need for adding weight yet)

  • Straight & Bent leg single calf raises on step (careful as Achilles still tricky)

  • Single leg stiff-legged-deadlift with Dumbell

  • 5x 1 min work/rest intervals on full kettlebell swings (monstrous if you go from floor to above head on each swing!)

  • 60 swiss ball crunches

Session 2 -

  • 5 sets incline dumbell press

  • 3 sets shoulder press

  • 3 sets preacher bicep curl (perfect form)

  • Straight & Bent leg single calf raises on floor

  • Plank 3x 1 minute

I'm trying to keep these at least 2-3 days apart.

What I hadn't factored in was the immediate hit to my central nervous system in suddenly adding in high effort compound lifts. The hit to my energy levels over the last week has been profound and I probably over-cooked it on the first couple of weeks. It's hit my energy levels hard with mixing in my Zone 2 running, long runs and Tempo session running through this base building phase of my training cycle I'm in.

What I'm aiming to achieve through the next 6 months with my training is to kick start some key adaptations. To build endurance, to build strength, o lower risk of injury (hence the strength work), and to increase my speed at easy pace. This is a tricky balance because recovery is a huge factor, as well as energy. It's not being helped that I've dialed in my diet heavily, to operate at a slight calorie deficit. Running doesn't really do a lot for helping you lose weight, especially endurance running. Most who train for a marathon can attest to that. It's in the diet (what you eat, when you eat) and the way you hydrate and rest that improves body composition.

These are the habits I'm working hard on right now. Not easy when you are hammering your body and it's screaming out for the necessary protein, fats and carbs to repair the stress you're putting on it.

Add to this the insane DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) from the strength sessions I have right now, and it's proving challenging to maintain in this restart few weeks I have. From previous experience (and I used to lift heavy for many years hence why I'm built like I am), DOMS should only last another couple of weeks as the adaptations start to kick in and the strength foundations are laid.


The trouble with DOMS is that it's very difficult to run when your adductors, hamstrings and quads feel like someone has poured hot concrete in them for a few days. I'm waiting for the supercompensation cycle to kick in, which for strength work is around 3 days / 72 Hours (so separating weights workouts into twice a week is a sound strategy (see chart below).

Interestingly the Aerobic work (zone 1 & 2 Heart rate running/walking) super-compensates from 12-24 hours, This is LOW intensity, easy aerobic work and that can be done daily (or even twice daily though not yet for me!) to get the optimum aerobic engine development. What's interesting is that 'Tempo pace' running. That's similar in recovery between sessions to Weights work (48 to 72 hours at your Zone 4 Heart Rate). This means one faster more breathless run (two when you're fitter) should be the aim. If I use the cycle above as a guide then should my training be structured as follows?

  • Sunday - Long Run (Intensive Endurance)

  • Monday - Recovery / Rest / Zone 1 (Active Recovery)

  • Tuesday - Strength + Zone 2

  • Wed - Zone 4 (intensive Anaerobic) Strength + Zone 1/2

  • Thu - Zone 2 (Aerobic Endurance)

  • Fri - Strength + Zone 1/2

  • Sat - Zone 1 (Extensive aerobic endurance) & Active Recovery

There are so many variables here and not enough time given work, life, family, etc. The focus for me is endurance and strength with speed being less important (though will come with the increased strength and endurance. It's still pretty intense though. I've worked this for the last 10 days and my body is tired and sore. It will adapt soon enough to the new stress I've put on it. What feels 'Intense' now should start to feel easier. I'm working a periodization training plan - Hard Week, Harder Week, Easy Week - so my first Easy Week is coming next week where I can dial it all back and put in more recovery. This should give a bit of time for the previous couple of weeks harder work to create the adaptations (around 14 days) to kick in. The accumulated fatigue is high right now. I can feel it is. By the time I hit my long run this weekend (16km), I'll be a little fried and grateful for a few easier days next week as will be close to the limit for overtraining, and the last thing I need is an overtraining injury. I'll let you know how that goes though in my next post. Thanks for reading

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