Monday, June 16, 2008

The Data Does Not Lie!

What initially started as a trickle of interest from runners interested in qualifying for the Boston Marathon or running a personal best has turned into a torrent.  To date I have sat down with no fewer that ten runners in the past three weeks to outline programs that might help them achieve their goals.  In most cases we are talking about time improvements of 10-15 minutes.

And as altruistic as I might be, my recent focus on the basics of outlining a training program with very specific goals for others has helped me immeasurably as well.  I have gone through dozens of old posts as I have tried to illustrate all of my training suggestions and more importantly, back up what I am saying with secondary evidence and hard data.  It's been eye-opening for me as I realize that I have fallen out of many "good" training habits as I struggled with the task of finding the time in my schedule to run at all.  So I have already benefited from "going back to the drawing board".

For better or for worse, I am still a fervent believer in the benefits of training with a heart rate monitor.  I still believe it is the best way for runners to maximize and achieve the most out of a quality work out.  And with a finite number of work outs in a marathon training cycle, why would you want to squander even one work out?  And a heart rate monitor gives a runner invaluable instantaneous insight into their performance.  To paraphrase an old friend, "the data does not lie".

I've encouraged everyone who has a goal to establish a baseline from which to start.  Knowing where you are at is the best way to chart a course to where you want to go!

To that end, I gave everyone who asked me for specific training tips a "little black book", also known in some circles as a Training Journal or Log.  That last was more tongue in cheek than sarcasm.

Starting with their best race time to date and the goal time they wanted to achieve, I also had them write in their Maximum Heart Rate, Resting Heart Rate, Body Weight, Percentage of Body Fat, and MAX VO2.

Of course, this all sounds much easier in theory than in practice.  With the exception of myself, not a single one of the ten runners has been able to completely fill in all the blanks on their baseline assessment.  Now comes the fun part - filling in the blanks!

The first step has been to get people to either acquire heart rate monitors, or actually wear the ones they already had in their possession but which had been tossed into the back of the closet.

The next step is to go as a group and get tested for Maximum Heart Rate, Max VO2, Lactate Threshold and do an immersion body fat test.  After that step, every single person will have all the data they need to chart a course for success over the next 16 weeks.

On Sunday we went out and as a group ran 12.8 miles in 2:13:00.  So far, we are tentatively called the 3:45 Pace Group, as that is the minimum marathon time goal for most of the group, but we have a bunch who want to run everywhere from 3:20's to 3:40's.  We did the Jeff Galloway ten and one walk breaks as we normally do, and ran a pace of 9:30 per mile.  I think this was a bit of a shock for some.  And for those wearing a heart rate monitor for the first time in a while, even more so.

My average heart rate was 138, or 68% of my MHR.  Our average pace was 9:30, but factoring in walk and bathroom breaks, 10:24.  I burned 1942 calories - praise the Lord, and I will be keeping an eye the calories I consume between now and the Fall Marathon (I still haven't picked a Fall race yet...).  A little less than two pounds per week for the next 12-14 weeks is the same plan I followed with success back in 2005.  My God, where has the time gone?

I must say, that I have not been this enthusiastic about a marathon clinic in a very long time. It's wonderful to see so many people excited about setting a new goal and enthused about running a Boston Qualifying time.  And that feels great for me as well.


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