Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Review of June 28th evaluation

A number of questions have come up on what heart rate to use for evaluation runs. There are two ways you can come up with a number. If you race a 10K (or a race lasting between 30-60 minutes) wear a heart rate monitor and take the heart rate about 10 minutes from the finish (this will give you a rate that will be absent of any final push or sprint). Take 90% of that rate (for example 174 during the 10K time .9 equals 156.6 so I would use 156). If you prefer just take 85% speed of a recent 10K race and run at that pace and note your heartrate after running for 15-20 minutes (for example a 10K in 37 minutes is about 6:00 pace divided by .85 equals about 7 minute pace). These heart rates/paces are near your upper level for using your energy stores efficiently (somewhere between 90-97% of marathon race speed.) What you'll note is that your heartrate for these evaluations is not based on your maximum heart rate but your level of efficiency at running hard pace.

Ewen had an excellent question (one that should be answered by the reviews that will be posted about Mike's progress but I'll summarize below what to look for)

I'm doing base training (100k a week), and was wondering how do I know when I've "peaked" at my lowest possible average HR for a particular pace, and will upping the mileage to perhaps 120k achieve further improvement? Are the evaluation runs a good guide? When such a "peak" is reached, is that a good time to switch to the next phase of training? I'm not aiming for particular goal race, just a peak racing period of 4-6 weeks next summer.

First let's look at Mike's first two evaluations:

10 June 2008 28 June 2008

Mile 1: 6:15 (148HR) Mile 1: 6:02 (150HR)
Mile 2: 6:25 (151HR) Mile 2: 6:11 (151HR)
Mile 3: 6:28 (151HR) Mile 3: 6:15 (151HR)
Mile 4: 6:34 (150HR) Mile 4: 6:14 (151HR)

51 seconds to 120HR 45 seconds to 120HR

The first thing to look at is the difference between the first mile and the average of the last 3; 14 seconds June 10, then 11.3 seconds June 28. Why is this important? This gives use a good clue on what pathways the muscles are using. When you are in racing speed shape the system looks for the easiest pathway (anaerobic) first and the cardiovascular system lags (whether it is because of buffers in the muscle, early recruitment of certain fibers it doesn't matter the heart rate does not respond quickly to the load). In the base phase you are training your most efficient pathways and de-training your racing pathways. This will show up when the heart rate responds quickly during the first mile and looks more in line with other 3 miles. Now the preferred pathway is the efficient one, not only will your system go to the most efficient system first (aerobic) but also will preserve the reserves of the speed system.(anaerobic).

The second thing to look at is how quickly your system recovers, how quickly does that heartrate drop to a given level ( Mike uses 120 but any point that is 25-40 beats lower than your testing level is fine). This will give you an idea on how stressful the load is, as you become fitter the system will find the load easier and the recovery will be quicker.

When those two things stop changing and you still want to challenge your efficiency level adding miles to your long run can produce gains (as opposed to just adding mileage to everyday totals). The longer run will stimulate some of the harder to reach fibers to become even more efficient. Once you are about 7 weeks out from your peak racing season carefully adding speed work will enhance your racing speed without compromising the gained efficiency of the cardiovascular system.


Mike said...

Thanks for the review, MC. I have noticed that in the past when I've done a race or two during the latter stages of base conditioning that I often feel much better during the earlier portions. This might have something to do with the de-training of the speed pathways you mention. By the end it still hurts like hell though, which I would think to attribute to the limited reserves of the anaerobic system.

What you mention about the long run is interesting too. Do you think it might be counter-productive to work on lengthening the long run too early during conditioning if it taxes those same hard to reach fibers we're de-training during the base phase?

Mystery Coach said...

Mike, A couple of de-training effects take place with the hard to get to fibers, one they loose their ability to tolerate anaerobic waste products (this is why it "hurts like hell" until you build buffers with speed work), the second is they loose their ability to be recruited easily (that is why Arthur put his hill springing in the program, so they would be reactivated)

The part you want to train with those hard to recruit fibers is the efficient aerobic pathways which can be done with longer and longer runs at a moderate pace (they are brought on line as the earlier fibers fatigue) and since you are going slow enough they use the available oxygen to build efficient pathways.

Ewen said...

Thanks Mystery Coach. I have some space to lengthen the longer runs - at the moment, they're around 16 to 20k. I don't want to make them so long that I don't recover in 48 hours - also, I'm racing 3/5k, so I'm not sure how much endurance I need for those distances.

I've done 3 evaluations. The first was the fastest speed/HR by a good margin. The difference between first mile and average of last 4 (I do 5 miles) was 11 seconds. Second and third evaluations were slower overall (around 20secs/mile slower), with differences of 8 seconds and 12 seconds.