Sunday, 25 September 2011

HR max test and fresh perspectives

Of late I thought my training might benefit from the incorporation of heart rate training. I hope that brining this into my training will help me train at the correct intensity and complementarily develop both my aerobic and anaerobic systems. So first things first, I would need to determine my maximum heart rate. There are numerous ways of doing this, some involving scientists and a treadmill. I went for one I found on the Marius Bakken website. My HR max 'target' was 190. Following a fifteen minute warm up I embarked on the first of five one minute intervals. Every minute for the next three minutes I aimed to increase my HR by ten bpm, reaching 180 at the end of the fourth minute. It was getting really tough now. The final minute is an all out effort to get the HR as high as you can. I maxed at 185. This seemed a bit low, considering that last year I saw 190 at the end of 5k; so, I went out in the afternoon and did the 'Hadd' HR test. This involves a good warm up, followed by 800m all out, a two minute recovery and 400m all out. This elicited a max HR of 183. I am unsure how advisable it is to two HR max tests in a day and whether it affects the results of any subsequent effort. One thing is certain- I do not fancy doing one again any time soon. Running until you think you will black out is not pleasant. So, 185 it is. I subsequently read that as your aerobic fitness improves it is more difficult to reach your true max HR and that if your fitness declines you will reach a higher HR quicker, and of course be moving at a significantly slower pace. The first real workout with this approach rook place last Thursday, a twelve mile run, with seven at tempo effort. The average pace for these miles was 06:43 and average HR of 163 or 88% max HR. I was happy enough with this pace considering the >90% humidity and 24C/74F temperatures. Interestingly, before the summer I would have considered 163bpm as only slightly greater effort than marathon pace - if even. However, these tempo miles definitely felt like half Marathon pace. I am a little hopeful that if the environmental conditions were better my splits could be twenty to twenty-five seconds faster. If this is correct, a big if, then it suggests that either I was overtraining in the past, or I am in significantly better shape than I was before the summer. If it's incorrect, then I am in poor shape. In short, I have no idea what kind if shape I am in, but the point of the move to HR training is to receive more objective feedback on my training and prevent either under or overtraining. If nothing else it will bring fresh perspectives to training.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The clock is ticking

Weekend commitments led me to switch my Sunday long run to Saturday, a fifteen miler. Normally I would begin a run like this at projected marathon pace plus 20 per cent and do the latter half at marathon pace plus 10 per cent. Today, I decided the good temperatures would be opportune to do an evaluation run to see what kind of shape I am in. The plan was, six miles easy, five miles at marathon pace plus 20 per cent, and the final four at marathon pace. The first five miles were north of 08:35 with a HR in the early to mid 130s, the next five miles averaged just south of eight minute milling with a HR in the early 140s - all good.
The final four miles at marathon pace began well; the first mile averaged 159 with a 06:36 split - little fast but it felt good. The second mile elapsed in 06:45, but it felt tougher than I would have liked with a 164 HR. Third mile in 06:47 and average HR of 166- not good, this almost felt like tempo effort. Final mile of 06:45 and HR of 159. Had I not been stuck waiting for a pedestrian light the HR would have been higher.
My legs have felt a bit heavy and tired since Wednesday, as a consequence of the first interval session of the training cycle, tearing up a floor on Thursday with a crowbar, and a not insignificant workout on Friday. However, I think I am clutching at straws to account for how tough this was; perhaps the five weeks of training between now and taper will pull things out of the fire? The clock is ticking...

Sunday, 11 September 2011

The deluge

Flooding close to downtown Harrisburg, September 2011

Well, things appear to come in threes here; first an earthquake, then a hurricane and finally...I hope finally, flood. it rained heavily much of last week and this. I got drenched on about five occasions during my run on Tuesday. The following day followed this up when the race director of the half marathon I was scheduled to race on Sunday, sent an email announcing that flooding in Harrisburg meant the race would be postponed until October. As luck would have it I cannot participate as the new date coincides with a relay race I am participating in. It now looks like I will be unable to do any races in advance of my marathon. This is the result of half marathons being either too far way, sold out, or ridiculously expensive; many appear to think $85-$95 is a reasonable entry fee! That's worthy of a post in itself!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Redemption - of a kind

After the disaster of a tempo session two weeks ago I was not looking forward to today's session of eleven miles with seven at tempo pace. Consequently, I found my self procrastinating in getting out the door. In the intervening two weeks I had conducted some online research on the effects of heat and humidity on pace. I found nothing definitive but one site I found somewhat useful was Jeff Galloway's. He provided the following useful guide to how heat might slow a runner's performance.

Adjusting pace for heat: estimated temperature at finish - slower than goal pace - 8 min mile becomes:
55-60 degrees - 1% - 8:05
60-65 degrees - 3% - 8:15
65-70 degrees - 5% - 8:25
70-75 degrees - 7% - 8:35
75-80 degrees - 12% - 8:58
80-85 degrees - 20% - 9:35
Above 85 degrees - Forget it... run for fun
* Note: This chart is based upon Galloway's own experience in the heat and talking to other runners. It has no scientific verification.

Consequently I was quite happy with my tempo mile splits of 7:02, 7:03, 6:48, 6:49, 6:49, 6:58, in 75F/24C. The real test of my level of performance will be the upcoming Harrisburg half marathon. This is assuming of course that conditions are favourable.