Thursday, November 04, 2010

Evaluating Recovery

With the Dublin marathon out of the way I finally feel free to start “proper” base training, with no goal race for several months. I think recovery from Dublin has been going quite well. I felt better virtually every day and the figures do back me up on that: on Monday and Wednesday I ran the same course but was significantly faster (8:00 / 7:45 pace) 48 hours later even with a lower heart rate.

Of course, one single such data point is rather useless, and this morning I followed the coach’s orders and did another 4-mile evaluation. If you remember back, I first did this a fortnight ago a few days before the Dublin marathon. After listening to the wind howling outside for much of the night I was a bit apprehensive, but as always the actual conditions were much better than they seemed.

I did the evaluation on almost the same course as last time, but with a slightly different start point in an attempt to iron out some of the elevation figures. Of course, running being an outdoor sport, conditions will never be the same for two runs. While the wind was not as bad as it had seemed, I still had it on my back for the first 2 miles and as a head wind for the final 2. I again used the Garmin to beep whenever the heart rate would deviate, which worked quite well but I did notice a tendency to run at a higher effort when running against the wind and had to ease up on several occasions. In the end, each mile was run at exactly the same average heart rate, but all of them one single beat higher than what I aimed for rolls eyes. The bare figures come up as follows:

6:44 (HR 162, -30 ft, with wind)
7:04 (HR 162, -1 ft, with wind)
7:26 (HR 162, +1 ft, against wind)
7:36 (HR 162, +30 ft, against wind); 42 seconds to HR 130

The pace is about 10 seconds per mile slower than last time and the recovery time to 130 identical. I sure wished the pace would not slow so much over the 4 miles, but it's hard to say how much of that is down to fatigue (I certainly don't feel fatigued after those 4 miles) and how much to the road elevation and wind.

On more important matters, Maia celebrated her third birthday on Tuesday. She broke into floods of tears in the morning, did not want to be there, wanted to refuse all presents and told us in no uncertain terms to cancel the party, but eventually agreed to a compromise. She would accept presents and party but still be 2. Thankfully she eventually managed to overcome her reluctance to accept her new age, with all the burden of responsibility that come with it.

2 Nov
10 miles, 1:18:00, 7:48 pace, HR 154
3 Nov
8 miles, 1:02:01, 7:45 pace, HR 147
4 Nov
10.5 miles, 1:18:32, 7:29 pace, HR 155
incl. 4 miles evaluation:
    6:44, 7:04, 7:26, 7:36; 42 seconds to HR 130


  1. If I remember Mike's training, MC had him doing a lot of evaluation runs.

    Do you have a rolling/flat loop near home that you could use to run your evaluations on? The reason I ask is that after reviewing your data, I see that each mile is slower than the last... and it looks like you run up hill? Not sure what to make of the -30ft, -1ft, +1ft, +30ft?

    Thoughts? Regardless, love hearing about the birthday. Very funny. Reminds me of my little sister who would cry when we sang her "happy birthday'.

  2. Michael, thanks for your comment.

    I am very much aware of both the elevation change and the slowdown. I live in a very rural area and we simply don't have anywhere near as many roads as an urban setting. I thought long and hard about this, but there is no short loop of flat roads anywhere near. It's also quite hilly and finding any flat piece of road is a challenge to say the least.

    The only way to run 4 miles over the same terrain would be to run back-and-forwards over the same road. It's an option, but the constant 180 degree turns would not be ideal either.

  3. I'm the same about birthdays - I refuse point blank to believe that I am now 52 .. I can't be, I'm sure I was only 50 a couple of days ago!

  4. I agree that your recovery is going very well. I love the birthday story, life is difficult right from the start.:)

  5. I know women don't like adding on the years but Maia's a bit young for that.

    When I did the Maffetone 5 mile evaluation runs at the start of 2009 the drift from mile 1 to 5 never went over 20 seconds per mile (143HR) - then again I was on a track where conditions were exactly the same for each mile.

  6. Interesting data Thomas. A bit hard to evaluate considering your course problem. Forgetting the recovery time, to me the slowdown of each mile looks dramatic.

    The 180 degree turn course (you could have a large radius, from one side of the road to the other) on a flat half-mile section might be better.

    I can't remember if you said if you warmed up for this test? With a good warm-up I'd expect you to hold the same pace at the same HR. The 6:44 to 7:04 looks like you start from rest (or a low HR).

  7. Ewen, I had slightly over 2 miles for my warm-up, including a couple of pick-ups to get the legs moving. And I started accelerating about a minute before the start of the evaluation, so that the HR would already be at 161 by the time I started measuring it for the evaluation.

    I might indeed change to a half-mile stretch for next time, but I have 2 weeks to decide. I know the slow-down will definitely be reduced that way.

  8. OK. You shouldn't get any slowdown on a flat course if you're in good shape. Maybe the first mile will be a tad quicker, but 2,3,4 should be the same. I know it's a recovery test, but holding the same pace/same HR would be easier than backing off the pace to keep the HR the same.