ATC 341: Adjusting to Altitude and Dry Heat, Finding Peace with Postpartum Fitness, TSS For the Swim, and More

June 17, 2022


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  • Further followup on Lucho’s recovery, physical and emotional, post-Ironman.
  • We talked about Lucho’s full IM experience on ATC 340.
  • Doing fun things after a huge race, including activities with your kids.
  • Going into a race, especially after finishing one big race recently, making sure you’re in the right head space and mind and body are not at war.

Chris Dierker asks:

Moving to elevation & adapting

Hello, Hoping you can provide some input and guidance.  We moved from 500′ above sea level (Illinois) to the high desert In Reno, NV in January and am struggling with adapting to 5,000′.  I’m a 67 year old ultra runner.  Have not been able to find any info on how to acclimate after moving, tips and training to expedite adaptation.  Can you provide any guidance? Thanks,

What the coaches say:

Sarah asks:

New mom MAF problems

Hi! My son is 20 months old and I’ve made a gradual return to training after an initial break from giving birth. Before pregnancy I was an avid triathlete and runner, not super competitive, but enjoyed everything from sprint & Olympic tris to half marathons. My MAF pace pre-pregnancy peaked at about 9:00 mile pace, but now even after 20 months postpartum and no longer breastfeeding (which we did for over a year), I can’t get my MAF to sub 10:00 pace. What gives? I feel like so often you hear of “super moms” but what about us who actually struggle a bit more after kids? I am also wondering if there are other health tests or blood tests I should consider, or ways to tackle this more holistically as I know from your show it’s not always just about the training. Thanks so much!

What the coaches say:

  • We’re all unique in how we recover from birth so learning the art of self-care and patience for one’s self in a busy season of life is paramount.
  • Tawnee shares that she was not a fast speedy mama returning from pregnancy and birth, but instead the positive was that her whole mindset shifted to appreciation for the art of balancing it all and getting that special “Me time” to run, and when I framed it that way pace and data became way less important.
  • That said, if you suspect something might be going on:
  • Thyroid
    • Stats say 1 in 12 new moms may develop a postpartum thyroid condition often autoimmune. Up to 17% have some sort of thyroid condition. Checking this is critical. We’ve discussed this at length on our recent thyroid health series:
    • Get in-depths lab and even if you had it tested before make sure labs are updated as we change rapidly after giving birth.
    • I’ve personally seen more cases of hypo but I’ve seen a few friends develop hyper, it can go both ways.
  • Also to check more general blood labs:
    • Inflammation eg CRP
    • Homocysteine (and prob B12, folate too)
    • Vit D3
    • Iron panel
    • CBC with diff
  • Suspect gut?
    • First find a functional practitioner or health coach you like then order labs through him or her. It’s possible to do labs on your own but having an expert give you the analysis and protocol is worth the extra money. Avoid food sensitivity tests, go with something like a GI MAP, Genova, Doctor’s Data.
  • If bodyweight and dieting are on your mind:
    • Stop chasing the “old you” and your “pre-pregnancy body.” Instead give your body love and respect, with an emphasis on mental and emotional help.
    • Honor where you’re at in life and your important role as a mom.
    • Avoid fasting and keto, too much stress on the body
    • What you can do is be more mindful of timing carbs for best blood sugar response and get in at least ~120g/day for most athletic women, more if breastfeeding is 100% normal and ok.
  • On training, it may be best to:
    • Start focusing more on strength aspect, see if diastasis recti is playing a role in core stabilization.
    • Crosstrain on bike to allow more variety without added stress.
    • If doing strict MAF consider adjusting and adding strides, moderate tempo, progression runs and even runs where you just leave the watch behind – may need to get legs to move a bit quicker to regain that efficiency.
    • Nasal breathing workouts and nasal breathing in general.
    • Maximize sleep even with a little on—do your best and don’t cut corners when you have the opportunity to sleep soundly.

Scott asks:

Follow up to ATC 339 on CTL & TSS

Hi Lucho and Tawnee,
A followup question for your recent show:
You mentioned having a TSS cap and watching ramp rates, etc.  Is that only for cycling and running or do you also estimate for swimming and include it in the mix?
While less taxing than the bike and run, it seems that monitoring overall loading and fatigue that swimming would factor in, assuming a decent number of sessions and volume.
Thanks much and keep up the great episodes, Cheers from Zurich!

What the coaches say:

  • Definitely include the swim in overall scores. Swimming can be very taxing, especially if you’re not a great swimmer.
  • If you’re a great swimmer and you’re just maintaining, there could be a case for ignoring swim TSS, but best still to include it.
  • How to measure swim TSS?
    • Test! You have to test because it’s based off of threshold.
      • Example test set with 300 repeats to get threshold pace.
    • Set threshold swim pace in training peaks, and go from there.
    • If you don’t think it’s that accurate, you can underscore it by 5-10 points.
    • Try not to be too technical about it, and can assign swim TSS to your consistently done workouts. There’s not a lot of science, if any, on this, so it’s not going to be completely exact.
  • Levels of data geek (and wearing a watch or not in the pool).
  • Remember that TSS is a stress score, HR will be lower, no load bearing, so the overall stress effect is less, but the metabolic stress is huge for many of us–partly do to thermodynamics: water temp in pools is generally colder and we are working to generate body heat.

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