Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pose Method Pace vs. Heartrate graph

Running Pace vs. Heartrate Graph

On the graph above, the square, black points are Pose data from my standard, 4-mile run course. All of the other data is the same course using my former heel-strike gait for different periods over the last couple of years. Fall of 2004 is the most efficient so far (I was training a little more then), but the Pose best-fit line is closing in fast.

I've noticed that the pose data reflects lower efficiency the longer I run (not shown on this graph). I think that will become less pronounced as my calf muscles get stronger and my body (and mind) adapt to the new stride.

Cadence vs. Power Graph

After running cadence vs. power at four different cadenses and then performing confirmation tests on three of them, this is what my cadence vs. power graph looks like:

On the three points that have confirmation data (cadences 60, 70, and 90 rpm) the higher of the two was my second test. An extra couple of weeks fo training might explain the slightly higher numbers. Or maybe I'm just getting more accustomed to a lower cadence, which felt very unusual at first, but feels comfortable now. All the tests were run at a constant heartrate of 150 bpm, which is about 10 bmp above my lactate threshold.

My next step will be to run tests at 55 rpm and 65 rpm to generate more detailed information in the vicinity where my apparent peak lies (I'm guessing 55-60 rpm). After I determine the exact peak, then I'll have to do some real-world tests to see if that cadence is maintanable. It should work well for time trials of 20 to 45 minutes, but might not be great for group rides.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Museum of Aviation 1/2 Marathon

Yesterday was my first race using the Pose method. Seven friends (which is a huge crowd for my small, rural county) and I drove to Robins Air Force Base to run the Museum of Aviation Half Marathon. I didn't really race, I stayed with a friend, Jamie, at an 8 min/mi pace for the first 10 miles or so. It was windy and pretty cool (about 42 degrees), but the course was very flat. The course is essentially one lap around the base on the exterior patrol road. Jamie and I had an interesting conversation while running the first several miles as we talked with Jim Marshall, our local congressman. He had a good race and we enjoyed speaking with him about all things running.

At mile 8 or 9, my calves started to noticably fatigue. The longest Pose run I'd done was 8 miles, so I was in uncharted territory. At about mile 10, we crested a small hill (one of the few rises on the flat course that could even be termed a hill). Jamie slowed for a drink, and I kept my pace. My calves were so fatigued, that I felt I would not be able to accelerate if I slowed to wait for Jamie to catch up, so I kept going. After another 1/4 mile or so, I gave up on the Pose method for the day. I was happy I'd made it almost 11 miles using it, but could not sustain it.

That's when in interesting thing happend. I guess I began to use some fresh muscles when I changed back to heel striking, or maybe I was just using muscles differently. Whatever the case, it felt like I'd just reclined in a Lazy-boy lounger! My pace shot to about 7 min/mile and I felt very fresh physically and mentally. I finished the race at about a 7 min/mi pace at 1:42:56 and felt quite fresh at the end. Congressman Marshall had pulled away from Jamie and I at about mile 6, but I caught him right before the finish. He probably shaved 30 seconds off my time as I used him for a carrott during the last mile.

Even if unintentionally, I guess I found a new strategy by starting with Pose and finishing with my old-faithful heel-strike when the Pose tank was empty. Whether that will be a long-term strategy, I don't know -- probably not -- but it worked yesterday.

Everyone else in our group, Jamie, Adam, David, Betty Jean, Suzanne, Pam, Cristina had good races also -- there were several PRs in the group. Even though I didn't race the course, I learned a lot about my new stride, had a very good early-season training day, and had a great time!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Orca/Half Marathon/Power test confirmation data

  • I called FreeFlite bike shop in Buckhead to discuss the purchase of an Orbea Orca. I found out two interesting things. One, it's pronounced Or-bay-a, not Or-bee-a like I thought. Second, the salesman said I'm likely to fit a 51cm Orca. I ride a 56cm Trek 5200 now and it's slightly too small for me, so 51cm doesn't sound right. He said they measure them using an unusual convention. Evidently the owner has a blue Orca just like the one I want. So I'm probably going to ride up there next week and test ride it.
  • We (my wife and I and about 5 or 6 friends) are road-tripping to Warner Robins on Saturday morning to Robins Air Force Base to run the Museum of Aviation half marathon. It's a fun race. I ran it two years ago with Abby White, a tri-friend who has moved to Florida. It's a fun, low-key run around the air force base on the patrol road. Quite flat. It's the first time that we've had a group this big going to a race together. It's nice to see that local interest in running is growing. We actually had 9 or 10 people doing a training run on Rock Eagle Road last Saturday. That's pretty unheard-of for around here.
  • I'm in the process of doing confirmation runs of my bike cadence vs. power testing data. Originally, I did tests 150 bpm rides at 70 rpm, 90 rpm, 100 rpm, and 60 rpm. My power was consistent (about 175 watts) at 70 at 90 rpm, was about 30 watts lower at 100 rpm, and about 25 watts higher at 60 rpm. The re-tests are slightly higher so far at 60 and 70 rpm, but pretty close to the initial test results. The increase is probably due more to recent training at lower paces and higher intensities than to lack of tesing precision. I'll probably run two more tests, one at 90 rpm and one at 65 rpm to populate the graph a little more densely at the low end. I'm curious to see what 50 rpm would give me, but from a practical standpoint, I don't think it's very useful. If I rode any significant distance at any significant wattage, my knees would probably blow out!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Low-cadence cycling

As I've mentioned earlier in my blog, power testing on my computrainer showed me that I produced about 15 to 20 watts more at 60 rpm than at 70 to 90 rpm. My power at 100 rpm was about 15 watts lower then the 70 to 90 range. I've always ridden at about 90, so that was a surprise to me.

I've been trying to train myself to ride at a lower cadence lately on my computrainer rides. Today was the first nice weekend day in a while, so I went out and did a 25-mile ride with my wife at about 17.5 mph. My heartrate was quite a bit below the predicted level based on my heartrate vs. speed graph that I kept from last fall's rides. It could be an anomoly, but I'm looking forward to plotting some more rides to see how they look.

I'm also looking forward to using a lower cadence on some longer rides to see how big the muscular endurance factor kicks in. It might turn out that the lower cadence is much more efficient for me on 20-40 mile rides but might not work for 80-100 mile rides due to the muscular fatigue that sets in. The lower cadence makes the ride seem 'calmer' and more fluid than the higher cadence. Even though those are subjective psychological effects, they might be helpful on difficult rides.

Pose Method 8-mile run

My experiment continues... About 4 weeks ago I quit my old running stride cold turkey and started running using the Pose method. It was almost impossible at first. The first time I ran 3 miles I could hardly walk the next day. But I've stuck with it in hopes of increasing efficiency, decreasing the chance of injury, and better using my calf muscles on the run leg of triathlons.

Yesterday I did my first long run using Pose. I ran 8 miles at about an 8 min/mile pace. My heartrate was about 3 bpm below what it was for heel-strike running a month ago. So even though my body is still adapting to the new stride and I have not even begun the video analysis of my stride to make sure I'm really doing the Pose method properly, I've already seen an increase in efficiency. Four weeks ago I though the attemp was futile, but it appears to be working.

When I temporarily switch back to my old heel-striking form, it feels like I'm speed walking compared to my new stride.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Computrainer modeled course matches real world results

After riding the Silver Comet Trail time trial last weekend, I used the elevation data that my Polar heartrate monitor gathered during the ride and recreated the course profile on my Computrainer. The slopes on the trail are small (most range between 0.1% and 0.8%) because the trail lies on an abandoned railroad bed. I added a 5 mph wind from the west because that is typical for the trail ride.

After setting up the course on the computer, I rode it trying to keep my heartrate at about 147 for the entire 10 miles. I figured that would give me a data point between the 153 bpm and 143 bpm that I got from my real-world rides. The out portion of the ride is much slower than the back stretch becase it's slightly uphill and into the wind. I averaged about 18.5 mph going out, and 22 coming back in with the wind at my back. I think my average power was about 200 watts.

I finished the Computrainer ride at 147 bpm average heartrate and and average speed of 20.0 mph. When I plotted the new data point on my graph of HR vs speed for last weeks ride, it hit dead on the line! So now I have a perfect way to try different strategies to prepare for the time trial in Feburary. Also using the 'race against previous performance' feature, I can see how different strategies (starting out easier, etc.) relate on the course to my other rides.

It's the best possible way to squeeze out all possible speed using my average abilities.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Silver Comet Time Trial Training

I drove an hour and a half yesterday to meet with my coach and some of his other clients to do some practice time trail work on the Silver Coment Trail, a multi-use trail northwest of Atlanta. It was a fun day and the weather was decent for December, but the trip generated lots of questions by me. Instead of summarizing the whole thing here, I've decided to just post the e-mail that I sent to Tony after the ride. If he answers some or all of my quesitons, then I'll post that here later also. On my first 10-mi out and back TT I averaged 153 bpm and 20.3 mph. My second ride was 143 bpm and 19.2 mph. On both rides, I had to stop and unclip a couple of times due to road crossings, etc.

Thanks for organizing the time trial practice yesterday and for keeping the data (I’m sure it got kind of boring after a while). I think I need lots of that type of training, and yesterday gave me a good example of how to set it up in Monticello. It also gave me a good preview of what to expect in the Tundra TT.

There’s lots of stuff below. I apologize in advance for being long-winded, but I have lots of questions.

Yesterday was a strange day for me. The warmup felt great and I enjoyed riding the trail for the first time, and I even ran into a friend of mine who works in Vinings and rides the trail a lot.
The first 10-mi TT felt pretty normal, even though I pushed a little harder than I would’ve when doing a TT at home. I was a little surprised that my speed was not higher – I figured on a flat course, my speed would be higher than what I’m accustomed to in sprint races (maybe the wind and the frequent road crossing contributed?).

But the real surprise was how awful I felt during and after the 2nd ride. No matter how hard I pushed, I couldn’t get my heartrate over about 145 or so – and I had very weak legs. I guess it was because my legs were loaded with lactate from the first ride. But based on my experience I thought I should have been able to ride longer than 30 minutes at the higher heartrate. After the second ride I was completely toast. When you asked me to ride a 3rd time, I couldn’t even consider it because I felt so weak. I think I didn’t eat enough before the ride, because I was shaky and getting hot and cold on the way back. I barely made it back to the Jeep at 14 mph with a wind at my back! Lunch never tasted so good, and 10 minutes later I felt fine again – so that was a good lesson in itself (don’t neglect nutrition just because it’s ‘only’ a training ride). If I had tried to ride a third time trial, I honestly might not have made 17 mph and I would have been camped on the side of the trail begging for Powerbars just to get back home!

Now that you have convinced me that my LT is really in the basement, I’m determined to properly focus my workouts to increase it. (What HR do I divide my LT heartrate by to get my LT %VO2max?) I’ll continue to do the hill repeats that we’ve discussed, and I’ll add some 10-mi TT repeats. What heartrate do you think I should be aiming for on the TT workouts? Based on yesterday, 153 bpm is far too high. Maybe I’ll try doing 10 mi at 145 and see if I can increase my speed on a follow-up 10-mi ride? I’m very interested in discussing how I can use the ‘new’ LT information to better pace myself in olympic and half iron distance races (I guess it’s just all-out in sprints no matter what?).

And lastly:
I took a closer look at my heartrate profiles from last year’s half-iron and West Point races. My average heart rates for the four 45-minute ‘quarters’ of my half-iron ride last year were 154, 149, 145, and 141 bpm (148 overall average). I obviously started quite a bit above LT and paid for it at the end (even though I stayed above LT for almost 3hrs? – I still don’t understand that – and then averaged 152 for the entire run). What would have been the effect if I’d started at 145 bpm or so and held it constant throughout the ride? Would I have had higher average speed on the bike, or similar average bike speed but better legs for the run?

Last year’s West Point oly was similar. In thirds, my average rates were: 155, 151, and 149 bpm (152 overall average).

Again sorry for the long-email, but I really want to learn how to optimize my rather limited abilities.