Easy running in zone 1 and 2 feely extremely difficult after recovering from OTS

  • Creator
  • #67153

    Hey folks,
    I am currently returning to my training for (ultra trail) running, after having to take a break from almost all physical activity whatsoever in the last 2,5 months due to OTS or some similiar disease (probably stress burnout, doctors couldn’t find anything severely wrong with my body).
    As expected, running, when the “lifestyle symptoms” had gone away and I restarted exercising, at the first few times felt unusually hard, but what is really triggering me and makes me think, is that I can’t seem to get up my heart rate without it feeling awfully exhausting – even when just running in Z1 or Z2, based on a 5 zone model with very exact measurements from the past.

    I think this is mainly because of 2 reasons: First, my body is no longer used to running and strenous physical activity in general, since I had to almost completely stop doing any intense work, and I obviously lost some fitness, and second, that a lot of all this is only mental and psychosomatic in my head, because my brain is afraid or simply no longer used to even the only very low dose of intensity at these easy running zones.
    This is really fascinating to me and leaves me wonder what’s wrong, since it is actually always the other way round: Most people find it extremely difficult to run with low heart rate and not having slow down excessively, while it is quite the opposite for me: My heart rate stays relatively low, even when going fast and/or uphill, but the RPE is unusually high.

    Maybe my brain just got very lazy and comfortable and I now have to regain my love for being in the pain cave while my body is actually very fit and healthy 😀 My resting heart rate btw. also did not change that much, only rising from ~32 to ~36 during the forced break.

    Does anyone have heard or had to deal of/with something similiar? I am really looking forward to hearing your opinion on this!!

    Greetings from Austria 🙂

  • Participant
    rich.b on #67300

    Last summer I dealt with OTS and it was similar to how you describe it, where the effort felt hard but HR did not increase in similar fashion and resting HR was maybe 2-3 bpm higher than when properly rested. The path into and path out of OTS are likely individual, but for me it was a matter of patience and accepting I dug myself into a bit of a hole (but I can try to lay the blame on raising a second dog for skijoring). Not getting outside was not a realistic/acceptable option, so I did continue to train, but with reduced volume, only easier effort (both in terms of RPE and HR), and no long runs – the total opposite of what would normally describe the summer season. Just as with coming back from an injury, every now and then I would push for a short section just to test how it felt, but never as a sustained effort. In short, it was a patience game.

    tobischneider on #67305

    Thanks for your reply and sharing your experience, Rich!

    Sound very similiar to my recovery story: Not getting outside at all, was never a real option, so I did a lot of hikes that I also used to monitor my progress. Patience is really the name of the game; every now and then trying to implement a short section of running, until I am now finally able to fully exercise again – even when it still feels unusually hard, even at these low intensity efforts, but I guess I just have to continue to be patient and then also this issue will sooner or later disappear, at the latest as soon as I am fitter and my body used to the physical activity again.
    I found that it is not my cardiovascular system that is fatiqued but rather my musculoskeletal, which kinda makes sense after 2,5 months of no intense physical acitvity, no running and just small doses of walks in the woods at a very gentle pace…

    What is your story with OTS, if I may ask? Could you recover from it successfully?
    I find that patience, stress managment, eating more and better training programming did a lot for me and helped, also as a learning for the future.


    rich.b on #67321

    OTS for me was a combination of same amount of training hours per week (9–12 hours/week) during winter 20/21 but broken up into more smaller bits to accommodate running, training with an adult dog and building up the condition of a puppy – for quite a while it was 30-45 minutes 3 times per day; and reduced sleep quality with a puppy (compounded by our early sunrise in the far north; 3:15 a.m. right now). The transition out of winter 20/21 to bare ground season physically seemed to start well, but the chronic under-recovery from reduced sleep quality I believe was the bigger factor that did me in. Although maybe the specific circumstances were unique, it was essentially classic chronic imbalance between recovery and stress.
    More-or-less recovered from OTS now, I believe; the main challenge is still re-calibrating the balance between the bikejoring/skijoring with the 2 dogs and running, but it is working well now. I have avoided longer runs (>2.5 hr) so far and am only just rebuilding that endurance – but think during July I should be back pretty close to a normal solid base and plan on a 100k in August. For that, however, I will not be at 100% race form, so the goal will be to put in a good, but very controlled effort and not go absolutely all in.

Viewing 3 replies - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.