Thursday, February 09, 2017

Analyse This

I don't think anyone can accuse me of being impatient during the present training cycle. After taking a month off late in October I started back on 19 November and for almost 3 months I have done nothing but easy running, the lactate test with the team being the one exception, and I wouldn't have done that one if left to my own devices.

This morning, after almost 3 months of jogging it felt pretty good to do a workout for once. A modest one of course. The evaluation workout is MC's preferred method to test training progress, and apart from providing a baseline of my present state of fitness it also should have provided me with a modest stimulus that will hopefully be felt in the near future.

The last month had been going very well and the numbers had finally shown signs of going noticeably upwards, despite me being hampered by a succession of mild colds. It therefore seemed safe enough to crank up the dial, if only very slightly.

The evaluation workout consists of a warm up and then 4 miles of holding the heart rate as steady as possible at 161 (that's for me, with a max HR of about 190). Then you come to a complete stop and measure how long it takes for the HR to recover to 130.

Because my Suunto Ambit 2, while being a very fine running watch in almost every other aspect, isn't particularly good with workouts, I dug out my battered old Garmin 310 for the morning (in fact, I wore both). I had two sources of slight stress: one, to remember to press the correct buttons on the Garmin at the appropriate times, which I just about managed with a few minor hickups along the way, and two, not to go into complete meltdown when analysing the numbers and comparing them to what they used to be like when I was in good shape (and younger).

Well, it ended up as follows:
        Mile 1    7:06   HR 161
        Mile 2    7:16   HR 162
        Mile 3    7:18   HR 162
        Mile 4    7:28   HR 162
        Recovery to HR 130: 53 seconds

Actually, considering the last few months that could have been worse. It was not the slowest evaluation I have ever done (close), it wasn't the biggest difference between the first and the last mile (close), but it was indeed the longest recovery time since records began (close). The idea now is to repeat the process and see the numbers improve as training progresses. If they don't then I'll have to change things, obviously. That's why you evaluate stuff, for objective feedback. It's preferable to guessing.

One quirky note: my fastest mile of the day was actually the second "warm up" mile because I had to work to get my HR up to 161. Usually I would have done 4 miles of warming up to enable me to gradually increase the HR but that would have resulted in too long a run. I'll have to tweak that format.
6 Feb
7 miles, 55:32, 7:55 pace, HR 151
   Super Bowl induced sleep deprivation
7 Feb
7 miles, 58:59, 8:25 pace, HR 144
   Feeling a bit under the weather
8 Feb
7 miles, 55:24, 7:54 pace, HR 147
9 Feb
7 miles, 53:52, 7:38 pace, HR 156
   incl. 4 mile eval: 7:06, 7:16, 7:18, 7:28; 53 sec recovery


  1. hmmm... if i was in your running shoes i would take much easier to get out of hole quicker. according to garmin training plans, recovery run should be done hr129-133. just my humble opinion. probably should have kept to myself :)

    1. No, that's a perfectly valid suggestion. However, I just run by whatever pace feels easy without looking at the HR or pace. The HR for the same pace and effort will come down gradually

  2. Pretty good evaluation (and memory) considering you haven't done one for a good while. Where does the 190 max HR come from? Was it sprinting at the end of a short race?

    1. Yes, a 5k with an uphill finish. It was a few years ago, so it may well have dropped slightly but MC suggested remaining on 161 for the evaluation

  3. I think that's the first time you've referred to an evaluation run as an actual workout. I guess in the context of training entirely at an easy effort for nearly 3 months putting 4 miles in a something near marathon pace would be a workout.

    My guess is that the lack of running in the 7min/mile range will have affected your running economy at this pace, it might not take long to recovery this running economy with a bit more time each week at this pace.

    The figures themselves point to lots of room for improvement on pace, HR drift and recovery. However, this isn't too discouraging we know improvements are already happening as your HR on easy runs has been getting lower while pace has been getting faster. Tough being patient though.

    I should probably doing an evaluation run myself, it's probably about 10 months since I last did one!