It wasn’t the easiest to get out for a run in the morning. I suppose that is the consequence of my recent increase in duration. However it has become a reflex by now and so there is no question if I do or not. Unless I am feeling tired or something is hurting I put on my clothes and go run.
I’m starting to notice, especially in the beginning of my runs, it is much harder to reach the 144 heartrate, at least on the beach. I feel super comfy for at least the first 5-15 minutes to just run around 139.
Of course it was a perfect start … to the end of the beach with the sunrise and spectacular clouds and I had planned to take it super easy today …
… then at the end of the beach there are the stairs of hell and I found myself climbing up and to the top of the hill …
Well that’s that for the low heartrate … so the story of today’s run ends with me running around the hill, catching breath to check that Dublin is still there in the far distance and running downhill (my favourite part). Only down-hills I run like a Kenyan – 180 step rate, lightning fast (in my head). (Don’t try this if you haven’t trained this for a long time, it will trash your quads, ankles and whatever else you’ve never used before).
After 70 minutes I was back to where I started and since I had completely messed up the heartrate I decided it was enough and headed home. Still I did average an HR of 144 … I did walk the hills and stairs … oh and I didn’t reach the “red zone of death” on my Garmin … that should all count for something.
I’ve been using Trainingpeaks (a software for performance management) on and off and now finally got time to read the book “The Runner’s Edge” by Stephen McGregor and Matt Fitzgerald from my running book list. While it dates back a bit, it is quite relevant to me and while I am digesting all the information and try to apply it to my own “beginner” situation I want to write it down and possibly learn from it. I am not in any way affiliated with Trainingspeaks, just found it super useful. Depending on your obsession with stats it might be useful for you as well. All the above can also be calculated with simple formulas and either tracked manual or via excel – I just happen to love software 😀
As in all things with life, there are 3 steps relevant to improvement:
I’ve been monitoring everything from the start, so I am covered well in this area or so I thought! Now after a year has past, I am ready to look at all the data and make some sense of it!
This is the interesting part, where I get to connect cause and effect. Initially I get to list all questions I want to answer:
Rate the quality of each workout: I blog about how I felt in each run, that should be enough
Is my Training hard enough or too hard?
Do I need to rest?
Am I getting fitter?
Is my training appropriately balanced?
All more or less difficult questions. So what do I do? I turn to what I know … business! What I need in business to get a clear head are KPIs.
Here is what Wikipedia tells us KPIs are:
“KPIs evaluate the success of an organization or of a particular activity in which it engages. Often success is simply the repeated, periodic achievement of some levels of operational goal … and sometimes success is defined in terms of making progress toward strategic goals. Accordingly, choosing the right KPIs relies upon a good understanding of what is important … Since there is a need to understand well what is important, various techniques to assess the present state of the business, and its key activities, are associated with the selection of performance indicators. These assessments often lead to the identification of potential improvements, so performance indicators are routinely associated with ‘performance improvement’ initiatives.”
Now if you replace “organization/business” with “runner” and are still reading you are getting my idea. In plain terms what I need to improve as a first step are an initial set of KPIs. So let me get started on a list:
My KPIs for Running
CTL: Chronic Training Load (how hard I’ve been training over the past 6 weeks) (see below)
ATL: Acute Training Load (past week’s load) (see below)
FORM: The result of the above or how well I can expect to perform (see below)
Training balance in % of heartrate zones per week (see below)
Average Pace for aerobic heartrate (need to be disciplined and run only at that heartrate lol)
MAF test results (need to get started on doing those properly!)
Resting Pulse (tracking this via my phone, need to find replacement)
Here is a chart showing the data for my first year:
The blue gradient line is my CTL. As you can see I had 3 breaks where my fitness dropped. Each red dot resembles a run. The higher the dot, the more intense the run was. The yellow line is my Form, and the pink one is the ATL. FYI that is why people taper before running their marathons: to make their form go up so they are fresh and rearing to go once dooms marathon day arrives.
Below is a look into how balanced my training was. Unfortunately it wasn’t … but I am getting better with the slowness! You can see since the start of the year the dark red is getting less and less!
I’ve tagged all my plan related posts here. In essence I still follow the 3:2:1 ratio for my runs, do one recovery week every month and if I feel bad I don’t run. I do all my runs in super slow running motion and continue on as described. I might have bad runs, but they seem to be quite rare. I will try and keep tagging them, so maybe I can spot a pattern there at some point.
Generally I follow a couple of principles:
never increase more than 10% per week and only intensity or duration
A hard day is always followed by either a rest or a recovery day
if I can’t keep the HR down or need some fun, I want to make sure I don’t go over 80/20 (80% easy and 20% above)
Do a recovery week every 4 weeks
It is extremely difficult to figure out if and by how much I have become faster. In the beginning I wasn’t fit enough and I walk fast. I also ran at a much higher heartrate. This skews the data … additionally it is difficult to judge the surface. I observed this during today’s run and there was over 1:30 difference between running on soft sand vs. pebbles or rocky beach. I didn’t think it was that much …
I also noticed that my difference in pace isn’t as big if I run 130 vs 139 HR, compared to 140-145. Is this a thing or was that a surface or software bug?
Today’s 40 minutes went by in a flash. Weather is fantastic and the sea smelled sooo good! I even got soaked from a surprise wave crushing into rocks!
I also found a way to overlay pace and heartrate, so you can check how slow a person can actually run!
My average pace for today was 10:13 min/km – that is not miles!!! There are 2 other points in the above graph. I stopped once, for the sunrise photo and in the last 5 minutes I got lost in the zone and ‘speed’ lol took over … so one spike is better than 3 and I take it.
I also looked at my heartrate when starting to walk. It takes me 5 minutes to walk to the beach, by that time I have ~110 HR and I walked another 8 minutes. By the time I started slogging it was at 128. The rest is in the graph.
What a wonderful perfect morning it is out there! My running worked well today. While the tide is still a bit to high, I managed an easy run for 80 minutes. While I am increading the duration I want to make sure I stick to below a heartrate of 144. Today I cheated and did the full recommended 15 minutes of warmup walking and it helped to keep it low for the rest of the run. It did ‘spike’ a couple of times, but it is getting much better.
I also went into the sea for the first time this year. Only up to my knees, but let me tell you I think I am on to a whole new different meaning of a cool down.
If I get through this increase in duration without elevated resting heartrate I can truly be proud of what I have achieved. Then I will be running 3 times 40 minutes (Monday/Wednesday/Friday) per week, twice for 80 minutes (Tuesday and Thursday) and 2 hours on Saturdays. I do throw in a rest week every 4th week reducing the duration or not run for 6 days per week.
There are hardly any exciting things happening in my running life. With exciting I mean PRs or races or new splits etc.
What is exciting, is if I spot a new low resting heartrate! Which I did yesterday. I guess something I am doing might be working.
I had gotten used to 53 as that was the lowest I had ever gotten and now I am at 51!!!
I also think I got faster … but that might be in my head as the numbers show differently. The numbers don’t take wind and terrain into the equation though … was there wind? It doesn’t matter – my heart seems to be working more efficiently and that is something.
Just out of curiousity. Do you guys check or monitor your resting heartrate? If so, how did it change over your running life?