Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Same Old Race Analysis

The first thing that came into my mind after Sunday's race (ok, the first printable thing) was that my sense of pacing had been way off. I usually pride myself in being able to start at a realistic pace and therefore get the benefit of always reeling in a few runners in the second half, but on that occasion I was barely hanging on. At dinner afterwards (btw, in case you're wondering [which you're not, I know, I know], I can recommend the local Milano pizza franchise as very child friendly) I felt I hardly deserved my beer after that performance, but, you know, it was my carbohydrate recovery drink. Anyway, I was wondering what would have happened if I hadn't looked at the Garmin after half a mile. In all likelihood I would have finished even slower, but who can tell for sure.

Rick said as much in his comment
"Sometimes I think looking at your Garmin can be a big mistake, in a short race your always going to think s*** that's too fast"

I'm too much of a numbers geek to run without my fancy toy, but there's a resolution you can hold me to: in my next race I'll set it to only display time, and maybe distance, but not HR or pace data. It will force me to run by feel, and I think that's good for me.

The chart shows that my memory had been slightly hazy. It was well before the half-mile mark when I slowed down, the only time I ran 5:30 was at the very beginning. But the average HR of 178 proves that I definitely didn't take it easy. The pace really suffered on those steep climbs. All of them were very short - I'd hesitate to call it a hilly course, but they definitely cost some time. Btw., I'm convinced the Garmin's elevation chart left out a few of those bumps - there seemed to be a lot more than show up on the graph.

There is one more thing, then I'll finally shut up about that race, I promise. When I set my 10k PR in July last year, I weighed about 143 pounds. On Sunday, I was 10 pounds heavier. While the exact impact of weight on running times is disputed, I refer to this article, pointed out to me by Rick a while ago. If we assume for ease of calculation (never mind correctness) that each pound costs you a second per mile, I would have been 60 seconds faster had Sunday's race been done with my 2008 weight. I would have set a new PR! There you go, I'm not old, merely fat. What a relief.

Having said that, I felt rather old on Monday. After a bad night's sleep I even reduced the mileage from 14 down to 13 in a futile attempt to get a few extra minutes of sleep, but the alarm still went off way too early. I managed to drag myself out of bed, but got a pleasant surprise that I was presented with a gap between the stormy rain showers. The wind was pretty bad throughout, but the rain held off until after my return. What was slightly less pleasant was the stiffness in my hamstrings, as well as the general fatigue. I struggled through the Cromane loop, and had to pass a test of character when I went past our driveway after 11 miles. The temptation to stop there was strong, but I plodded on until 13 miles were completed.

Today's run was very similar. Maia seems to share Dick Cheney's views on the acceptability of torture and proceeded to deprive her parents of sleep for most of the night. I don't know where she gets her stamina from, by the time she settled down it was bright outside and the alarm went off much too soon once more. The weather forecast had predicted warm temperatures and rain, but in the real world we had a cool morning with beautiful sunny skies. At least one thing was working in my favour. The hamstrings, on the other hand, were even less prepared to do the job than they had been on Monday, and the whole run was more a survival shuffle than anything else. I do hope to be better recovered from the race by tomorrow, though. I felt slightly better after a set of strides; maybe I should have done them in the first half of the run rather than towards the end. At least I'm starting to get used to them; maybe this time I'll manage to stick to them for a significant amount of my training.
18 May
13 miles, 1:42:04, 7:51 pace, HR 154
19 May
9 miles, 1:10:51, 7:52 pace, HR 152
incl. 9x100 strides


  1. I found you blog from Mike's. Very cool!

    I know where you are coming from about the additional weight making a big different in running times. Best of luck with the weight loss.

    I thought my kids were the only ones who picked the worst nights to have bad nights.

  2. I feel your pain re: lack of sleep, or at least I did. It has been 6-weeks and counting and I can't put into words how much I love an uninterupted 5+ hours of sleep. I even managed an hour nap yesterday (bank holiday).

    Oh yeah, you can now cross Boston off your "to do" list.

    I think you mentioned it a week or so ago, but what approach are you taking to your next marathon?

  3. Yes its a sad fact that looking like a bean pole is good for your running and on hills your power to weight is even more important.
    Running a 5 mile race last night I still felt the effects of the marathon in my legs and I slowed some what dramatically over the last 2 miles, I'm sure post marathon legs would also have effected your own race last Sunday, a couple more weeks to get the marathon out your legs and drop a few pounds should turn things around for you.
    After stopping heavy weight training I've already dropped from 11st 8 lb to 11.2

  4. just as a additional remark on the Garmin...
    I was before a "data obsessed" races: always racing with HRM, taking care of splits, etc, etc
    after leaving at home the watch, I did my PR both on 10k and HM, running with gut feeling, and they actually felt "easier"

  5. for the weight, it is easy math:

    if your VO2max is (eg: 4 L/min), than divided by 70kg or by 73kg, it makes a 4% drop in VO2max/kg (from 57ml to 55ml/min).
    Then you can check the drop/increase in speed using the Daniels'table on the relationship between V02max and speed...

    you can find an excel file with the relationship on the web or I might send you (if you want) the file

    you can also play out with the calculators at http://www.runningtools.com/homepage.htm

  6. Hi Thomas,

    Great post. Hope you did well on that race.

    I'm a physician and former faculty member at Harvard and Stanford Medical Schools. I discovered your blog while looking for the best health writers on the web. I reviewed your posts, and think your writing would be a great addition to the Running Community on Wellsphere, a top 5 health website that has nearly 5 million visitors monthly. If you would like to learn more about how you can join our Health Blogger Network, republish your blog posts and be featured on the Wellsphere platform, just drop me an email at dr.rutledge@wellsphere.com.


  7. Thomas, one always deserves a beer after a race! Just don't make a habit of having 6 after a bad race or you'll put on another 10 pounds ;)

    Another study I read in an old magazine put the relationship at running 30 seconds per kg (of fat) faster for a 10k race. So your 4.53kg is worth about 2 minutes 16 seconds.

  8. Great blog!
    Yeah I always have to worry about the weight versus speed issue as I like to eat.. LOL.
    Congrats on boston

  9. ha ha maia taking lessons from dick cheney! heaven forbid!