Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Evaluation Surprise

After feeling a crash coming on during the second half of Sunday's run, I knew I had to take it easy. It wasn't just potential overtraining that was on my mind. I also had a bad headache on Sunday evening, and with Lola having been sick for almost 2 weeks I pretty much expected to wake up coughing and feeling like sh*t the next morning.

Even though I didn't sleep very well, that turned out not to be the case. I definitely did not fell 100% on top of the world but there was no sign of coughing or the muscle pain that goes with most sicknesses, so I did my normal 10-mile morning run, though I did make absolutely sure I was taking it very, very easy.

That went well, and I repeated the same on Tuesday morning; I still wasn't feeling all that great but once again the run was fine. I was a bit shocked when I saw just how slowly I had run, but that was a good thing really. Your easy days should be easy, something I'm guilty of neglecting at times as much as most runners.

My hamstring had started hurting again after the fartlek workout last week but gradually improved again, and those two easy runs seem to have been just the ticket. There was not a beep of discomfort left in the hamstring on Wednesday, so I went ahead as planned and did an evaluation workout.

I presume you know the format by now, otherwise you can read back on all the other evaluations I have done over the years. The numbers in brackets are adjusted pace, 3 seconds for every beat off the 161 target.
        Mile 1    6:31   HR 160    (6:28)
        Mile 2    6:36   HR 160    (6:33)
        Mile 3    6:39   HR 161    (6:39)
        Mile 4    6:42   HR 161    (6:42)
        Recovery to HR 130: 28 seconds

The numbers are nothing short of spectacular. The one fly in the ointment is that I'd prefer the pace to be more stable, but apart from that! Not only was I running over 10 seconds per mile faster than last time round (20 days ago), my recovery time is in fact the fastest recovery in my entire evaluation history, which is made even more remarkable by the fact that it's still only 17 days ago that I ran a double marathon at a fairly competitive pace.

It wasn't all happy and sunshine; my left calf felt very tight, uncomfortably so, though obviously that did not interfere with my running. The 4 miles of cool down felt a lot longer than usual, due to the calf as well as some fatigue, and was unusually slow at 8:12 pace. I've jogged home at 7:30-ish pace on occasions.

My Suunto Ambit has a "recovery time" feature, and it accumulates if you train again before your recovery time has expired. After Sixmilebridge it was up to 120 hours, from that race alone. Following an easy recovery week, it was down to 40, but after last weekend I was back to 80 again! I don't know how this is calculated (HR is involved, I know that much) and I would certainly never let a generic feature on some watch dictate my training, but the jump in recovery time did have me worried, alright. However, I prefer the feedback from tried-and-tested things like an evaluation workout, which has the added bonus that I know where the figures are coming from and is also subjective to me (because I compare them to my previous history).

All in all, this is going well.

P.S. Since I do have an evaluation workout programmed into my Garmin but not the Suunto, I wore both watches on Wednesday. The evaluation mile paces are from the Garmin. the Suunto would have had them about 5 seconds per mile slower. Also, the Suunto gave me 11.7 miles at the end compared to the Garmin's 11.8. I always suspected the 310 to slightly over-report distances (and thereby displaying a pace that was a bit too fast), ever since I started using it 3 years ago because it generally tended to report slightly longer distances than the 305 I used to have before. However, I'll keep using the 310 for evaluations, solely to make comparisons with historical evaluations easier, and the Suunto for all other runs.
1 Dec
10 miles, 1:20:58, 8:06 pace, HR 134
2 Dec
10 miles, 1:21:53, 8:11 pace, HR 131
3 Dec
11.7 miles, 1:28:32, 7:34 pace, HR 144
   incl. 4 mile eval: 6:28, 6:33, 6:39, 6:42, 28 sec recovery [cleaned up paces]


  1. Talking of GPS accuracy you will want to read this blog I have been following this guy for a few years and this makes interesting reading.

  2. Good to see the evaluation figures coming good.

    Is there any chance that outside temperature is affecting the results in your favour? It's been colder over the last week here in Scotland. Looking at my HR monitor figures I tend to see better results on cooler days than warmer.

    The exception was the first frosty run this week where I was shivering while waiting for my GPS signal to settle, this run my HR was higher for a given pace than has been typical recently. Not quite sure what was going on there as I wasn't overly cold on the run.