Thursday, January 09, 2014

Delayed Evaluation

I was pretty please with myself that I had managed a daily run despite the rather challenging weather conditions over the last 3 weeks. Sadly, the sequence ended on Monday morning. I got up at my usual time, got ready, and just as I was about to head out I was stopped in my tracks by a flash of lightning followed almost immediately by some massive thunder, so it was right on top of me. A bit of wind and rain won’t stop me, but lightning does – I might be stupid but not f***ing stupid; at least not that f***ing stupid.

You can’t make up for a lost run (well you can, but that’s stupid once more) so I continued with my training on Tuesday as if nothing had happened, telling myself that an extra day’s rest might work in my favour anyway.  There was a minor reason to celebrate as my new HRM chest strap had finally arrived and this was its maiden run. Apart from that, it was a completely unremarkable easy 10 mile run.

With the winter storms finally abated I had planned to do an evaluation run on Wednesday. However, technology conspired against me in the form of a Garmin that resolutely refused to awaken from its deep sleep. It wasn’t the battery and not even a hard reset would wake it from its coma. For a normal run I would not have minded quite as much (well, I might), but the Garmin is absolutely essential for an evaluation, I need a working GPS, HRM and timer for these. I did not have time for a lengthy fix and eventually headed out sans gadget for yet another 10 mile run. The effort was identical to Tuesday, so I call it the same time. On the plus side the legs felt very good, which I suppose more than makes up for the technological mishap.

I did manage to resurrect the damn toy in the evening and managed to evaluate with a day’s delay on Thursday. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but after all that’s exactly what the evaluation is for. The weather was good, just a tiny bit of breeze that would not have any real impact on the numbers.

        Mile 1    6:48   HR 160
        Mile 2    6:54   HR 161
        Mile 3    6:55   HR 160
        Mile 4    6:55   HR 160
        Recovery to HR 130: 34seconds

Now, the fact that the pace is so stable and the short recovery time are good news. The slow pace is not. That’s a good bit slower than the evaluation last month, though in retrospect that had been falsified by some sharpening effect from the cross country race and had tricked me into running the Clonakilty marathon too fast (at least it was a factor in that). Today’s figures are more reflective of my true aerobic conditioning and to be honest, I’m not happy about it. I was in much better shape same time last year. I could blame the marathons I have run in the autumn (Dublin, Sixmilebridge and Clonakilty) but could point to the fact that the previous year had been even tougher (Dingle Ultra, Dublin, Sixmilebridge), so that’s not the whole picture.

Something to ponder, I suppose.

Update: MC sent me a note that the eval is very good. At this point, stable pace and quick recovery are much more important than fast paces. I can't even begin to tell you how much better that makes me feel.
6 Jan
7 Jan
10 miles, 1:18:52. 7:52 pace, HR 142
8 Jan
10 miles, ~1:19:00
9 Jan
11.9 miles, 1:27:52, 7:26 pace, HR 151
   incl. 4 mile eval: 6:48, 6:54, 6:55, 6:55, 34 sec recovery


  1. Nice work! Your evaluation runs are of particular interest as I would like to come up with a regular evaluation for my running also. Not sure I can implement the exact same routine, but I take it the key to this is the HR. Could one do it at a specific pace and base the evaluation on the HR for each "split", whether mile or kilometre? Or is that just asking for trouble?


    1. Hi Vava, the idea of the evaluation is to keep the HR completely stable and see what pace that leads to, though a stable pace and a quick recovery time is more important that the actual pace, and to get real feedback you will have to do several evaluations (usually 2 weeks apart) and note the progress.

      Doing it the other way round is more difficult - how do you ensure the pace will exactly be the same for each km/mile? For evaluation purposes it might still work, but I don't think it improves on the original design.

    2. Good point. Thanks! Will try the HR method at some point, but it's really tough to ensure a stable environment over the Winter months here in Toronto so I was thinking to setting a treadmill to a steady and challenging pace for a good stretch and over time seeing how the HR responds to the exact same workout. Anyway, just a thought, but I do see your point. Thanks!

    3. I know a guy from North Dakota who did his evaluation workouts on a treadmill. As far as I know he adjusted the speed of the treadmill according to his HR.

    4. North Dakota huh? Yup, that's treadmill country I suspect. Cheers!

  2. Good to receive that email from MC. I was going to say that the stable pace looks good to me even though it might not be quite what you were doing last year.