photo by Steve Penland

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wow. Well. That certainly settles THAT.

No, I’m not harping on The Question again.  I think we pretty much covered that already.  Er, well, actually, now that I think about it, there is one aspect of The Question that I didn’t fully explain in my last post.  So I’ll do it now.  Because I can.  You’ll just have to wait a bit to see what settles what…oh, the suspense!

Anyway…many of my skating friends assume that I skate “that way” because I’m an inliner.  Let me go on record here, once and for all: I am not an inliner.

Oh, sure, I do a lot of inlining in my summer workouts.  And I’ve raced a few inline marathons, as well as many Summer Inline Series oval races.  But I am not an “inliner” the way my long track friends use the term; that is, someone who began their skating career on inlines and then switched to ice.

Many people assume that, because inliners tend to have a quicker tempo and to skate “higher,” I must have learned my technique on inlines and am merely having trouble switching to ice.  Actually, while I did have inline skates before I had long track speedskates, this picture should dispel the notion that I was an inline skater before I tried ice.

Here I am, circa 1991--one year before I took my first “Learn to Speedskate” class on ice.  Yes, this is the sum total of my inline skills at the time: standing shakily on the sidewalk with every conceivable body part padded (except, for some inexplicable reason, my head).

So there you have it—I did not learn my “bunny on crack” tempo from inlining.  In fact, I only began inlining after I started long track ice, so I could keep practicing skating during the summer. My inline and ice techniques look very similar now, but that’s because what works for me on ice works for me on inline, as well.

So…where was I?  Oh, yeah…that settles that.

“That” being a workout experiment I conducted today, and that being proving to myself, hopefully once and for all, that my sluggish skating was, indeed, wholly a product of my sluggish thyroid.

I just got back from a week at the cabin, and thus haven’t skated (or, you may have noticed, blogged) since last Tuesday.  I had an endurance workout to do this morning but, for various reasons, messed up my morning fast-acting thyroid hormone dose (I took half of what I usually do). 

And my workout sucked. 

In fact, it sucked so much that I quit after 2x4K (I was supposed to do 4). My laps for the first 4K averaged 49.3 seconds, and ranged from a 45 to a 55. Ugh. The second set was worse.  In the past, I’ve done 5x4K and had the laps average 46 seconds…for all 50 laps.  Clearly, something was amiss, especially after my good workouts just before going to the cabin.

Logic would tell me that, naturally, if my thyroid is causing the skating problem and I mess up my thyroid med dose, then of course (I think there’s an implied “duh” in this statement) the subsequent workout will suck.  Still, my mind, as it usually does, took off on all the “what ifs.”  What if it isn’t thyroid?  What else could it be? What if…what if…what if.  Until, fortunately, I figured out a simple, elegant way of finding out:

Take my next normal thyroid med dose (I take this particular med 4 times a day, so I still had a couple doses to go), then do another 4K this afternoon.  If I skate well, then it’s definitely the thyroid. If not…well, let’s not think about that.

So that’s what I did.  I took my usual thyroid meds the normal amount of time before skating, then went to the Oval shortly before the Summer Inline Series races were due to start , to do a “test workout” (I brought my skinsuit along just in case things went very well and I wanted to race for the first time this season).

I was more nervous driving to the Oval than I usually am for races.

And I did a 4K. And the laps averaged 45.7 seconds.  Yes, 7%, almost 4 seconds per lap, better than this morning.

Clearly, the thyroid is indeed the problem, the whole problem, and nothing but the problem.   (Note: for those of you who might be wondering if thyroid meds might be a nice way to take 4 seconds off your lap times, you can stop wondering. Thyroid hormones are not a performance enhancing substance because having too much is just as bad as not  having enough.  The best you can do is to replicate what your body would produce were it functioning correctly, thus allowing you to perform to your natural capability.)

And then I was so happy that I skated three SIS races, in which I discovered that I have a lot of catching up to do on my fitness and mental toughness, but which were a blast nevertheless.

And you can be damn sure I’ll take my full med dose before tomorrow’s interval workout.

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