Thursday, October 21, 2010


Since I do not have access to a running track, I had been racking my brain where I should run my 4 mile evaluation. 2 miles along the road to Killorglin seemed suitable; while there are a few very gentle ups and downs, it’s just about the flattest piece of road I could think of, apart from the main road where running is definitely not recommended. The strong wind on Tuesday made me reconsider because I figured it would invalidate the results if one half was with the wind and the other against it. The only alternative I could think of was the Ard-na-Sidhe road, but that’s quite twisty and features a hill in the middle, plus I would have to turn around ever mile. However, when it was almost perfectly wind still this morning I reverted back to my original route. After a warm-up of 2 miles I ran a further 2 miles towards town, then turned around and did the same in reverse. The target HR was 161 all the way through and I set the Garmin to beep whenever the number went below 159 or over 163. This worked reasonably well, it did not beep as often as I thought it would and I mostly managed to avoid looking at the pace reading (I did not want that to influence my effort).

The miles went off in 6:40 (HR 161, -51 ft), 6:55 (HR 162, -21 ft), 7:14 (HR 162, +21 ft), 7:16 (HR 162, +51 ft)

That's a lot more elevation change than I expected. I thought the first/last mile would have a difference of maybe 10 feet and the other one was very even. But this might not do, it makes it difficult to compare the individual miles and, you know, use them for fitness evaluation.

Then I came to a standstill to check how long it would take for my heart rate to return to 130. This would have been easier had I not mistaken the elevation figure for my heart rate, wondering why it did not come down. Thomas, you idiot! But the answer is 42 seconds. Anyway, after 15 minutes of easy running I launched into a set of 3 half-mile repeats, to be run between 3:10 and 3:20 but under strict instructions not to strain, and to start a new repeat every 5 minutes, which meant recovery between 1:40 and 1:50, accordingly. This went ok, 3:16, 3:12, 3:11, feeling reasonably comfortable all the way.

For some reason I had been really slow to get out of the house in the morning, taking almost half an hour compared to the usual 15-20 minutes, which left me short on time and I had to cut the cool-down rather short, less than a mile. Until I win the lottery or successfully rob a bank, I have to get to work on time, unfortunately.

Some scumbag (and for once I’m not using that term to describe a Man Un*ted supporter) seems to have gotten his hands on my (brand new!) credit card number. I just got a phone call, it had been used half a dozen times yesterday and only one of those transactions was genuine. They will send me a replacement card and I don’t think I will suffer financially, but it means I won’t have a credit card next week in Dublin, which really sucks. I hope they catch that swine, but I doubt it.

20 Oct
8 miles, 1:01:24, 7:41 pace, HR 148
21 Oct
10.2 miles, 1:16:22, 7:29 pace, HR 153
  4 miles evaluation:
    6:40 (HR 161, -51 ft)
    6:55 (HR 162, -21 ft)
    7:14 (HR 162, +21 ft)
    7:16 (HR 162, +51 ft); 42 seconds to HR 130
  15 mins easy


  1. Did MC explain the 161 evaluation HR? Looks like it's close to threshold effort.

    Enjoy Dublin.

  2. It's supposed to be close "to your maximum steady state". There is some explanation here. The HR is also reasonably close to a marathon effort.

  3. Garmin elevation reporting is pretty worthless at this scale.

    If you upload to the online garmin site they can do elevation correction for you.

    Basically they take the elevation from map data (space shuttle SRTM data) ..given the location which is pretty accurate.

    (You need a bigger amount of circuitry to get good gps elevation data than the little watch can hold.)

    That's why even bike GPSes usually use altimeters to measure elevation change.

    just FYI.

  4. Your HR seems high to an old dog like me... Did it feel like slower than MP effort?

  5. That's interesting. So I take it 161 is what you'd hope to maintain for a marathon? Does this mean you're in roughly 3:10 marathon shape?

  6. Paul, this is not the Garmin's elevation data. I know how useless that is. The elevation figures I gave are from the SRMT plugin on the SportsTrack software I'm using.

    Mike, with my max. HR at 190, 161 is not particularly high. All my tempo runs are at a higher HR than that. Not entirely sure how it compares to MP effort - I guess a realistic MP effort would have been a tad slower considering the shape I'm in right now.

    Ewen, I think I averaged an HR of about 165 on most of my marathons. But you can't really compare that figure with a 4-mile training run.

    Having said all that, 3:10 shape won't be far off. I ran 3:12 in Cork earlier this year 8 weeks after Connemara without much specific marathon training, and I guess I should be in just about that shape right now.

  7. Iread this interesting article by Marius Bakken;
    In my own training I did over 5000 lactate acid tests, which means small tests of capillary blood from your finger in order to determine exactly how hard one is running. Based on that it made me realize an important thing : the daily "form" you feel varies. A great deal. So does heart rate in regards to intensity at a given pace (some days you have 160 and a high lactate acid, other 170 is that exact same level) and general effort.

  8. I use to find this myself!
    once when training on a turbo trainer, I did the same interval session 3 days apart, on the first session I was hitting about 165 bpm, 3 days latter using the same gears and speeds i hit 175 bpm!
    Even in 10 mile TT i often saw a big difference in heart rate from one race to the next but produce the same finish time!
    Taking into account that the heart rate is affected by so many things ie outside temp, adrenaline, what you had to eat etc i womder how useful a test using heart rate is?
    And what would Arthur thing about using HRM, as I think he liked his athletes to learn to feel there efforts by listening to there body and maybe a HRM would get in the way of that learning!

  9. Some answers to the questions about the the evaluation run

    First there is nothing magical about the HR 161 except it about 30 beats below his max and about 30 beats above the recovery point (130). It is most likely 2-10 beats below marathon pace for most runners and and what Lydiard identified as an Aerobic Run.

    Thomas' workouts are not set by percent heart rate. This test with the heart rate is to test his recovery (how quickly it drops from 161 to 130)

    This test comes from Lydiard's 1995 Book "Running to the Top" (pages 25 and 27) It is not a test to see how fast he can run but how efficiently he recovers (the goal of the marathon training phase) If he is overdoing his training between the test his heart rate will begin to lag on his recovery (from 42 second to much longer indicating a loss of efficiency)

    The next test which will be after his pacing Monday's marathon will let us know how he has recovered from that effort. A good sign will be if his HR drops to 130 in 42 seconds like this time

    Remember my second axiom: How quickly you recover from a workout is a better indicator of your condition than anything else.

  10. Thanks for clearing things up MC

  11. Really interesting comments. Best of luck with the program. Will be glued to your progress.

  12. Thanks MC. So the 30 beats would be the same for a runner with a lower maximum HR? My max is about 166, so the miles would be at 136 and the recovery point 106?