Thursday, August 21, 2008

Evaluating the eval runs

What should you be looking for when you perform your eval runs? Below is a chart with Mike's times adjusted to a steady heart rate. If you look at Mike's times posted on the 19th you'll see that the chart below adjust his times by taking the difference between 150 and what he recorded and adding 3.5 seconds per mile per beat. This gives a consistent view from evaluation to evaluation. (all pace times are in seconds)

Mike Salkowski 150 150 150 150 150 150

Date 10-Jun 28-Jun 8-Jul 22-Jul 5-Aug 19-Aug

Mile 1 368 362 363 377.5 377.5 369

Mile 2 389.5 374.5 377.5 389 393.5 378
Mile 3 391.5 378.5 376.5 394 397.5 380
Mile 4 394 377.5 372 392.5 402.5 377

Average 385.8 373.1 372.3 388.3 392.8 376.0

Average last 3 391.7 376.8 375.3 391.8 397.8 378.3

hr<120 51.0 45.0 42.0 60.0 60.0 47.0

Diff 1 and Ave 23.7 14.8 12.3 14.3 20.3 9.3

Mike Salkowski 150 150

Date 5-Aug 19-Aug

Mile 1 377.5 369

Mile 2 393.5 378
Mile 3 397.5 380
Mile 4 402.5 377

Average 392.8 376.0

Average last 3 397.8 378.3

hr<120 60.0 47.0

Diff 1 and Ave 20.3 9.3

Eval runs give a number of important clues about your training and about your recovery from training. The first two numbers to look at to see if the base training has progressed effectively are the average of the last 3 miles then the difference between the first mile and the last 3 mile average pace. Mike's last 3 miles average pace improvement from his first eval to his last eval was 13.4 seconds per mile ( or almost 6 minutes per marathon) at the same level of effort.

The second number which I feel is a more important one is the difference between the first mile time and the average of the last three (see the line "Diff 1 and Ave"). Mike improved from 23.7 seconds to 9.3 seconds. Why is this number important? It gives a very strong indication of how quickly your system responds to a load. When ever you start a race or respond to a surge (or hill) the faster your system can go to the efficient pathways instead of using stored buffers the more of those buffers you have to use at the end of a race. Imagine two runners one with a very quick response (runner A) the other with a slow response (runner B). When they race a mile runner A's system immediately responds with energy from efficient pathways, runner B uses system buffers until the efficient pathways become engaged. They get to the last quarter mile runner A has not used his buffer system and can now sprint, runner B used much of his buffers until his system got up to speed and now can not sprint. This response speed also is important in racing marathons with surges or hills if you can immediately get to the efficient pathways you avoid using the buffer (which uses fuel inefficiently). You'll notice even if runner B had a much higher peak value (VO2) and if it does not respond quickly his buffer system will be used until it catches up. This concept is important to keep in mind when developing your speed work (Tomorrows post will explain this).

Back to Mike's evals you'll notice that he had two where he appears to be going backwards (22-Jul and 5-Aug). After the 8-Jul eval I moved Mike's fast ten miler up a notch (10-15 seconds per mile) that and combined with his travel cause him to be on the short end of his recovery. These eval runs showed how quicky you can mess up your good conditioning by going too fast too quickly and not recovering fully. Even backing off the paces it still took a couple of weeks to recover fully. One or two over the top workouts is all it takes. Mike is coming out of this build up with a much quicker reponding and more efficient system, one that with proper speedwork should continue to improve.


Mike said...

I think those two "back-sliding" evaluations serve as good reasons to keep the evaluations on their set date rather than moving them around to find better weather or to ensure recovery beforehand. They seem to be a good snapshot of my current state, which isn't always moving forward.

As far as the buffering goes, I seemed to find the same thing happening when I began wearing the heart rate monitor on the up-tempo 10 mile days. My first four miles went from a 148 average to 152 as they progressed, but by the end the last one the heart rate was still at 153 by the end of 10 miles. I seem to be sinking into the effort more quickly, which is making for a slower start but more consistent paces and heart rates.2602

Ewen said...

That's interesting about the difference between the first mile and average of the last 3 being an important indicator.

I'm wondering should I still do evaluation runs during the speedwork phase? If so, would you expect different numbers, and what would be 'good' numbers?

Mystery Coach said...


Here is an example from the Fargo marathon winner from this year. 12-Feb was before his transition (and after about 9 weeks of distance running), 3-Jun was a few weeks after the marathon after the recovery period.

Note that after speed training his efficiency level at a given pace improved by 17 seconds ( this is the bump the buffer is given by speed training)

You can tell by an eval where a runner is in a speed or distance phase.

Date 12-Feb 3-Jun

Mile 1 364 339

Mile 2 368 347
Mile 3 367 350
Mile 4 368 356

Average 366.8 348.0
Average last 3 367.7 351.0

Diff 1 and Ave 3.7 12.0


Ewen said...

Thanks Mystery Coach. That helps.

I have a similar pattern to 3-Jun (bigger diff 1 and ave), having now started speedwork, although my total time for the evaluation is no better than during the distance phase.