running

I ran a mile!

Well actually more than that of course, as I had 1 hour to slowly run around. However, since the tide is in at the moment, I can’t go to the beach and explore hidden caves, therefore I went to the local park.

While the grass was mowed recently it was still a bit too wet before 6 in the morning, but the sun was shining and the track looked astonishingly quite pleasant! Now I usually avoid the track and rather run around the grass fields, but not today!

I’m doing recovery week this week and therefore have too much energy and just knew I couldn’t keep myself slow enough if I take to the fields (so the wetness would not matter). The track is just some dirt, but it is nicer to run on than on the park roads. I also sometimes really like switching my brain off, which indeed happened and I breezed around the track for quite a bit until I realized I only had one hour and went on my way back.

When I came home I realized via Strava, I had run a mile! Strava records the weirdest things, especially segments others frequently run. I usually run kilometers, as I am a metric person, but there is a 1 mile segment for this track. Now I have a mile time for my (nearly) MAF pace which is 14:33. It was at an average heart-rate of 145. I just have to be more consistent … I also have a new MAF PR for 5k which is 43:58.

Oh somehow I start to love recovery week!

Btw. if anyone is curious, I also created a page for my general formula/plan and it includes an excel file for download that I used to calculate/structure my training.

P.S.: Gareth I hope this displays now fully on the reader.

running

Recovery week here I come

Tide is in and that means it’s perfect to kick off my recovery week. Which I did or tried. Average heart rate was too high, but I enjoyed my too short 26 minute run.

Tomorrow I must not allow my feet to carry me to the beach, but up the hill to the park. It is impossible to keep the heart rate low, when the tide is that high!

Oh and I moved my blog around, so I hope it is not too annoying for you guys! This should still appear in the WordPress reader, only the commenting seems to only be possible via the full website. Let me know if you notice anything else that is weird!

running

Today’s Run and the 5 Stages of Grief

My process in getting used to slow running reminds of the 5 stages of grief:

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

On today’s run I saw a lot of runners that are still in denial, running around with red faces, clearly hating every second – this was me years ago.
The weekend warriors that crossed my path, appeared to be in the anger phase. They only have TODAY to get ALL the exercise in for the whole week. I think what they do is speed work … to me it looks like they try to get a heart attack (this was me before moving to Ireland). I think I did spot a bargaining runner, while I was slowly running down the seafront. The runner overtook me, ran 100 meters ahead and then stopped suddenly to do some stretches. Quite clever actually … I never came up with that idea.

Then comes depression. Sometimes this is still me now. Not in a literal sense, but there are moments when I just feel so stupid if I have a bad day and a walking person overtakes me … and I feel bad for a bit. I do bounce back quickly though.

Despite this, I feel I’ve reached the acceptance stage or am there most of the time. In the end it is about me and that I can continue to run and have amazing experiences. That I have to run slow to be able to run for 2 hours is something I have gotten used to and accepted. I noticed this, when at the end of my run, another runner clearly tried to “race” me on MY beach. This would usually have been an unacceptable situation, but I just let him go, enjoying the soft sand and looking forward to cooling down in the sea after I was done. It was even kind of amusing to see that he looked over his shoulder multiple times. Maybe I even made his day, since he was so fast!?

I suppose this is mostly because of summer and more people exercising outdoors or get started new? Usually I only meet iron man like athletes that breeze up those hills – no sweat visible.

running

Easy 40 minutes

Another 40 minutes easy done. It is still harder to run at 144 than previously. I think I read in some book that this is supposed to happen. Need to find that spot/book – then it might make more sense to me. The pattern also continues and I wonder what it will look like next week … though I might not get to run on the beach because of the tide!

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I didn’t make it into the cave I had discovered yesterday. The entry was blocked by a human practising yoga and guarded by a dog! I will try again another day – stay tuned!

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Rest then Run

I didn’t go for a run yesterday. My resting heart rate was higher than normal and I didn’t feel like it. So I checked my TSB (Training Stress Balance) and surely it wasn’t just my demon of laziness talking. I had increased over the past two weeks and probably my body needed a bit of time to repair and build. Anyhow … I paid for it later in the day, when I had way too much energy … well at least the laundry got done and all my old – way too big – clothes are gone!

Today my resting heart rate was good again and despite the sun not making an appearance it was a pleasant run. I did only 40 minutes, don’t want to risk anything lol.

I did notice a couple of things:

  • it took me much longer than usual to get warmed up – not sure how much time, but I had to walk probably at least 500 meters more
  • there is funny pattern emerging on my strava segments, it looks like every week I get faster by the end of the week (it is quite consistent over 107 runs I did on this segment). The blue dots are the duration it takes me to run the segment and each dot is a different day:

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  • I also discovered the entry to a cave

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Where do you think it leads to? The door was open today … (Googling the answer does not count, I have no clue myself yet).

running

Daily Sunrise Fix

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 …

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Halfway point

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.

running

Unspectacular

Today was quite unspectacular. It was neither a bad run nor a particularly good one.

I had no plan and went down the beach. I had the bright idea to test different surfaces and check my pace for each at my 144 heart rate.

Including the stairs of hell:

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I was pleased to see my soft sand pace is now 9 minutes/km and it is one minute faster on pavement.

I even have to start running up smaller inclines I used to have to walk to keep my low heart rate.

I noticed it got a bit harder to keep the heart rate up at least while on the beach/street.

I also did the ice cold sea bath for my feet/ankles and calves afterwards which is such a treat!

 

Heartratezone Slow Running one year
running

Data Geek Alert: Stats for a year of slow running

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:

  • Monitor
  • Analyse
  • Plan

Monitor

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!

Analyse

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:

performance-management-slow-runner
Trainingpeaks: Performance Management Chart

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!

hr-zones
Heartrate zones in % per week

 

Plan

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

Further thoughts

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?