Thursday, October 18, 2012

Evaluating Again

I already knew from Friday's faster run that my shape has gone up a notch or two, so I was quite looking forward to Tuesday's evaluation workout. I knew the numbers would look good - at least the pace numbers. I wasn't quite sure what to make of the excruciatingly long recovery time two weeks ago and was curious what it would look like this time round.

I always do the evaluations the same way. The warm up is 4 miles long. The first 2 miles are easy and relaxed. During the third mile I pick up the pace a few times to get the legs spinning and to raise the heart rate. During the fourth mile I steadily increase the effort until the heart rate reaches the 161 target. Ideally I want to be running the last quarter mile of the warm up at HR 161 to ensure it is well established by the time the evaluation proper starts.

It was windy again, but not quite as strong as it had been two weeks ago. I can try and keep all the other variables as constant as possible. I run the same course in the same shoes at the same time after the same warm/up. The weather is the one major variable I cannot influence, and the wind especially can cause problems, but it wasn't too bad.

I always run the same half mile back-and forwards 4 times, which ensures that all 4 miles are done on the same course, and running that way also lessens the wind effect as you end up with half a mile of tail- and half a mile of headwind each time. A track would be better, and a treadmill might work very well for that kind of test, but I have access to neither. My flat stretch of road will have to do.

I end up using the Garmin's display a lot during the workout because of the need to keep the HR constant. I always avoid looking at the pace, though. It might wreck my head if I did.

Anyway, the numbers were as follows: (The number in brackets is adjusted pace, 7 seconds for every 2 heart beats off the 161 target):
        Mile 1    6:36   HR 161    (6:36)
        Mile 2    6:37   HR 161    (6:37)
        Mile 3    6:36   HR 162    (6:39)
        Mile 4    6:41   HR 162    (6:44)
        Recovery to HR 130: 36 seconds

That's remarkably stable, especially after such an improvement in pace compared to last time, and the recovery time is worlds better. I got these kind of numbers towards the end of my Vienna training two years ago. Seeing them now is either a sign that I am running at a higher level or that I am getting into shape too early. I'm not entirely sure which, but I definitely prefer these figures to the ones from two weeks ago.

I took it easy the day after the evaluation and did a hill workout this morning. I changed from hill sprints to 60-second-repeats, jogging back slowly each time, doing 14 repeats (I didn't count them, but checked the Garmin file later on). Next time I'll take a headlamp because I could barely make out the road going up the woods and got surprised by low-hanging twigs on more than once occasion. I did one repeat too many because I got very nauseous at the to of the last one (there's definitely a benefit to doing these sessions on an empty stomach. It would not have been pretty). The reason why I changed the workout is that Canova says you stop getting much benefit after doing the same session three times and should always vary training. On the other hand, I would probably have been better off doing those hill repeats on Wednesday because right now my legs are sore and I might not be able to do a faster run tomorrow, Friday. I'll see how I feel in the morning, but might have to substitute the session for an easy run.

16 Oct
12 miles, 1:25:42, 7:09 pace, HR 154
   4 mile eval: 6:36, 6:37, 6:39, 6:44 (adjusted figures)
   36 seconds recovery to 130
17 Oct
10 miles, 1:16:50, 7:41 pace, HR 142
18 Oct
7.8 miles, 1:09:57, 7:09 pace, HR 145
   14 x 60 sec hill repeats


  1. Thomas, those are good numbers. I wouldn't worry about getting into shape too early. If you're following the same coaching preparation as for Vienna you should be fine.

    BTW, on the point of pacing balloons - I think where some of these people get it wrong is that they rely on Garmins to set their early pace (rather than say the 1k sign and feel). Garmins can be off in cities with tall buildings and even if not, usually bring up splits a little early.

  2. Very consistent and fast splits Thomas. Lets hope it's the start of a new build - next evaluation will tell.

  3. Nice to see you reporting progress over such a short time. I do wonder if you are seeing a result of tuning up your muscles/heart/lungs rather than more fundamental physical adaptations. I suspect your basic fitness has been there most of the year but just detuned from the concentration of longer and lower intensity runs.

    For a while I have been wondering if you might do well to add a bit more of the high intensity workout/hill drills to your training for more of the year to help maintain the upper end of fitness.

    Like Ewen I don't think seeing good results this early is a problem, rather it's a sign that you've already got a great base to build from. Being in good shape at the beginning of new training cycle takes the pressure off, both physically and mentally so all you need to do is enjoy the ride :-)