Saturday, 3 September 2011

Start of a new training phase, time to test the baseline

This Autumn, I've decided to follow an HR capped training method in all disciplines.  I've done it on the bike before and also on the concept 2, but where running comes in, it's always just been the filler while I can't do the other things and I really didn't pay it much attention.
That changes this year. 
I'm going to be following a method described by a fellow called Phil Maffetone, who started out in life as a doctor, trained for a few marathons and finished, but ended up broken in the process.  He went back to the drawing board in training terms and with his medical mind also bought in the links to endocrinology, diet, stress management etc.   His main premise is that, for an endurance athlete, when we train the aerobic system to be effective, we can work harder (i.e. go faster) at the same effort without going anaerobic.  This is obviously more efficient as the aerobic system makes use of both glycogen and fats in a much more efficient way with much higher rate of energy generation than anaerobic.  The final part of the theory is that this approach then means that you have that anaerobic kick ready for the last part of the race when you need it, rather than having already gone into the red for 90% of the race before. 
He's also got a fairly good website
Among other things he's worked on nutrition and health with a range of "stars" and athletes and curiously has also been an advocate of minimalist shoes and barefoot running for a long time, which fits nicely with what I'm doing. 
So, the first thing as always is to test the base, find out where I am right now, so I know where I'm improving from.  First thing is to calculate my max aerobic function HR, using an empirical formula (not dissimilar from the 220-age for max HR)
In this case it's 180-age = 143
I'm allowed a plus 5 bpm adjustment as I've been training actively and not been sick for the last two years.
That means that in this first aerobic phase I should not be going above 148bpm.
As I said, first things first, test where I am now.  I've had a couple of days in Aberdeen this week, so that was ideal as I have a nice, mostly level route I run which loops along the prom.  The protocol for the test is run 3-5 miles at or below the Max aerobic level, HR of 148 for me.

Wednesday and Thursday morning I did this regular loop, in opposite directions. Repeated because the first time I thought I'd balls'd it up as I had an MHR of 157 vs cap 148, but that was in the warm up when I came up to a junction, so I'm not too worried about it. The results actually came out pretty similar in both cases.

Results are

T) 5.41 mi / 43:47 / 8:05 / A145 / M 157
1) 8:33 / A 138 Warm up
2) 7:50 / A 144
3) 7:52 / A 147
4) 7:58 / A 146
5) 8:04 / A 146
6) 0.41mi / 3:31 / 8:32 / A 147 - cool down

T) 5.44 mi /43:37 / 8:01 / AHR 144 / MHR 154
1) 7:49 / AHR 134 warm up
2) 7:57 / AHR 145
3) 7:47 / AHR 146 (slight downhill)
4) 8:07 / AHR 147 (slight rise)
5) 8:05 / AHR 146
6) 0.44mi / 3:50 / 8:39 / AHR 144 cool down

The test is supposed to show how well balanced you are between aerobic and anaerobic ability. The flatter your pace profile the better and more conditioned your aerobic system is as it suggests that you can carry on at that pace for quite soem time. 
So while I'm quite pleased with my results above, that's not to say that my erobic efficiency cannot improve further.  My recent HM by comparison had an average HR of 161, where this would be the perfect event to be able to run aerobically for most of the race.

I also did the same on the turbo trainer, as I'll also be spending some time on the bike over the winter and into next year. Plan was 10 mins - 35 mins on test - 10 mins cool down. I'd planned to record overall average watts every 7 mins (similar time to a running mile) and then work out average watts for that segment with a bit of spreadsheeting.

Total 55min/16.43mi / 17.9 ave / 525cal / A 203W / M226W / AHR 140 / MHR 150
1) 217W / A140 / M148
2) 213W / A147 / M149
3) 209W / A147 / M150
4) 205W / A147 / M149
5) 201W / A146 / M149

Again pretty flat profile suggesting that my aerobic system is fairly well conditioned.

The plan now is to train exclusively inside that aerobic limit for the next three months and redo at least one of these tests each month.  After that period, going into December, I'll start introducing interval workouts with a build up to a 10k road race on New Year's Eve and a 25 mile TT in Feb if I can get to that one.


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