Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 6 of 18

Week 6 is a recovery week, so I dialled back the paces along with doing the prescribed lower mileage. This week also marked the end of the “endurance” mesocycle – the first phase of training is officially complete!

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides) 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides)  8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Thursday 8m General Aerobic 8m General Aerobic 8m General Aerobic Part 1 | Part 2
Friday Rest Rest Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 4m Recovery parkrun
Sunday 12m Medium Long 12m Medium Long 12m Medium Long
Total Mileage 37m 37m  36m 10m reduction – nearly 25%

I made a conscious decision to run the 8 mile General Aerobic with Strides at a slightly slower pace than I have been as this is intended as a recovery week. My legs were pretty much shot to smithereens after Sunday anyway, so this was quite easy to do! In spite of how my legs felt, I still managed a rapid set of strides, aside from the one which I got a bit lost on. See, I was in Exeter on a route I didn’t really know. it was pitch black and foggy as hell, and my head torch only really lit up about 2 feet in front of me as it just made the fog in the immediate vicinity glow rather than provide any tangible benefit! So when mid-stride I came across a bend/turn I wasn’t expecting, I had to make a not-so-rapid change in direction. Still a solid set.

I also kept my midweek 5 mile recovery run very easy too. I was in my home town and my club had a track session. I went down to the track and just ran laps for 5 miles shooting te breeze with Steve, and anyone else who would listen to my witterings!

Thursday’s 8 mile General Aerobic had to be done at lunchtime de to a complicated travel schedule this week. I ran around the local village at a reduced pace again.

We went to parkrun in Andover as both Jodie and I were having recovery runs, mine was meant to be 4 miles but as it was only a recovery I decided just to run parkrun rather than adding an extra mile. It was a very muddy course this week, and the buggy ended up with big clumps in the mud guards slowing us down!

I went out for Sunday’s 12 mile medium-long with the intention of keeping it nice and relaxed. It started out that way, mainly thanks to the mahoosive Micheldever Road climb (I’m the CR on that one, though it wasn’t today!). After that the weather started to turn a bit and it started raining. That made me very cold thanks to the vest I was wearing! My hands could hardly move so as I was putting my hand up to wave to other runners and cars who were giving me room on country lanes, I ended up putting my whole arm up, bending at the elbow! I ran a bit quicker to warm up!

Weight

Well I stayed the same weight this week. Not bad considering I’ve had a lot of work related travel which always makes it difficult for me to control what I eat. That and a larger than usual loss last week means I’m not concerned and still on track.

Summary

There’s usually little to report on a recovery week, but I noticed/thought about something on Saturday. My legs definitely felt a bit lethargic, in the same way they did in my first taper week for Manchester last year. The reason I thought about it was because that week last year I ran the Cardiff World Half Champs and felt the same way. That’s probably a good thing, that my body really was recovering, but on the other hand I need to step up my game for the next 5 weeks with some seriously tough threshold sessions!

Here’s my fitness trend chart. it looks as though the recovery week has served its purpose and brought me back to that centre-ground ready to push onwards and upwards!

Next week sees my first 20 miler of the campaign!

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 10m (5m Lactate Threshold) 10m (5m Lactate Threshold)
Wednesday 4m Recovery 4m Recovery
Thursday 11m Medium-long 11m Medium-long
Friday Rest Rest
Saturday 7m General Aerobic  (8 x 100m Strides) 7m General Aerobic  (8 x 100m Strides)
Sunday 20m Long 20m Long
Total Mileage 52m 52m 6 mile increase compared to before MP and Recovery week. Big step up!

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 5 of 18

Well week 5 has been a bit of a beast! With a Lactate Threshold run, a marathon paced run, Baltic weather and a lot of travel, I’m not too sure where the time has gone!

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest Rest
Tuesday 9m (5m Lactate Threshold) 9m (5m Lactate Threshold) 9m (5m Lactate Threshold)
Wednesday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Thursday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic
Friday Rest Rest Rest
Saturday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Sunday 16m (10m Marathon Pace) 16m (10m Marathon Pace) 16m (10m Marathon Pace)
Total Mileage 45m 45m 1m less than previous week. Close enough 🙂

I wasn’t looking forward to Tuesday’s 9m with 5 miles Lactate Threshold run. I had to commute 2 hours home from Birmingham and was running from my in-laws house. When I’m doing a session I like to run familiar routes so I can focus on the running (And so I can find some slightly flatter profiles!). This was not one of those routes, so mentally I was already a bit despondent. I forgot my contact lenses and can’t run in my glasses as it makes me dizzy so I couldn’t see very well. AND I headed out with my head torch and didn’t realise the batteries were in a shit state and it was so cold all I could see in front of my was my breath! So I didn’t know sections of the route and could hardly see. Not a good start!

Thankfully though once I got out and found a bit of a rhythm I settled a bit. There were a few dodgy parts where I didn’t see the pavement drop, so I jolted a bit, but thankfully they were infrequent. The lactate section was fine for the first 3 miles or so, then I was faced with an incline. I did expect it, but at LT pace it sent my HR a bit high so I elected to walk a few meters to recover before cracking back on. There was another incline just after 4 miles which I adopted the same strategy for. I paused the watch for these walks.

My splits were good and I was very happy, though I was less happy that I had to walk a bit. Though I am confident that if the profile was flat I would have been able to sustain it. I will make sure when I do the 10 with 5@LT in 2 weeks time I find a flat area to run it on just to ensure I am right!

Average pace for the LT was 6:41 – So a bit faster than McMillan’s 6:50 calculation. However I’m about 5-6 pounds lighter than I was when I ran Newbury parkrun which I based the times on.

Tuesdays session meant I took Wednesday’s 5 mile Recovery at a very leisurely pace. My legs were shot to bits!

The feeling in my legs continued through to Thursday’s 10 mile General Aerobic run. The legs had a bit of a whinge and it was bloody freezing again but got the job done at a pace I was happy with. 7:33 average, 7:26 using GAP. My TRIMP was 143 compared to the 148 I scored for the same session and route last week so that’s encouraging!

We stayed local for parkrun this week, so I ran with the buggy on the Andover Winter Course and ran the 2 miles home  to make up the 5 miles recovery I needed. Legs felt fresh-ish but still wasn’t sure how I’d cope on Sunday… Was nice running with Lucy and Stephen and they came back to ours after for a calorie busting brunch! Not so good for the diet but was good for the rest of the day 🙂

The 16 miles with 10 at Marathon Pace was a bit of a mixed bag. I forgot my water so had to stop in Sainsburys after a mile. The I needed a number 2 so stopped in Tesco at mile 3. Miles 4 and 5 were ballsed up on the GPS so look a bit weird and have a dodgy run track section. Then I had to pause to reset the GPS. The I stopped at 5.5m for my planned water stop. After that the Marathon Paced section was actually pretty good. Had some solid splits bit it was really tough. Tough enough for me to question if I’m actually able to sustain it for 26.2.

On the surface they look pretty good, but I had to pause at the end of my 9th MP mile though when I finished I immediately regretted it. I do think I could have managed, and the clock won’t stop on race day!

On further analysis, using GAP I can actually see that the preceding progression section had some quick GAP miles so I actually managed a lot more at marathon pace than intended, nearly 12 miles – so I shan’t be too downhearted about it.

The average pace for the MP section was 7:01, so on schedule (7:04 is GFA/3:05 pace)

The other thing to consider with this run is that this was done at the end of a tough 5 weeks worth of hard training. I am thankful that I did so well with it and will now look forward to next weeks recovery week!

Weight

I had a great result with my weight loss this week, scoring a 5lbs loss! This either means it was a slight misread this week or last week, as I haven’t burned that big a calorie deficit, but its the long-term view that’s important so as long as the trend of loss keeps heading downwards I’ll be happy!

Weight: 14st 5lbs (-5lbs)
Body Fat %: 22.8% (-1.3%)

So of the 5lbs lost, apparently 4lbs was body fat and I managed to increase my muscle mass and water content! Something not quite stacking up there, but it’s not a zero-sum thing and purely guidance. Basically, I’m chuffed! Well on track.

Now I just need to have another good week. usually after a big loss I relax. I need to power on through and build on the good momentum I’ve got and shoot for another 2lbs next week.

Summary

So all in all a decent week’s training but I am thankful the Marathon Paced run went ok – I was dreading it. Looking at my Fitness Trend I can see again I have managed a sensible training load, and I have increased my fitness score by 2 pints week on week. Everything is headed in the right direction!

Next week is a “Recovery” week. Slight mileage cutback, and will try to ease up the intensities a little just to let the legs recover. I may even swap out Saturday’s recovery for a hard parkrun effort as a bit of a shape test, but we’ll see! Unbelievably next week is the end of the first Mesocycle. When that’s finished only 12 weeks to go, and 9 weeks until the taper!

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides) 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Thursday 8m General Aerobic 8m General Aerobic
Friday Rest Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 4m Recovery
Sunday 12m Medium-long 12m Medium-long
Total Mileage 37m 37m 7 miles less than previous as its a “recovery” week.

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 4 of 18

So week 4 has come and gone and its been a productive week – All my runs went rather well and as I write this on Monday by legs are only feeling slightly fatigued.

This is the last week for which I can’t compare my posts compared to Manchester. I only started blogging in Week 5 for Manchester, so it will be interesting, given that I’m on the same training schedule, how I am feeling week on week compared to back then. Based upon my limited memory I do feel like I am doing better.

Here’s how this week went.

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides)
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides) 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides) Rest
Wednesday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery  5m Recovery
Thursday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic  10m General Aerobic
Friday Rest Rest  Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 5m Recovery  5m Recovery Extra mile to continue weekly mileage increase
Sunday 15m Medium-long 18m Long  18m Long Build up my long runs faster as already running this distance pre-plan
Total Mileage 42m 46m 2m more than previous week

The first run of the week I moved to Monday. I thought this was OK as Sunday had a Recovery run (As I switched my Long Run to Saturday) and as I was working away it was a better use of my time as it meant when I got back from Birmingham on Tuesday I could spend time with my girls instead.

It was 8 miles General Aerobic with 10 strides toward the end. I’ve always wondered if I should be marking this as a “Workout” and consider it a “session”. It definitely is, especially at the quicker end of my pace range. But I felt fantastic, and one of the strides was at 4:34 minute mile pace! – it was really tough but I felt my legs had the strength to carry me through. I felt really sharp and I could feel the weight loss already helping out. It was a great session.

Upon reviewing what the book says about the Strides it says the recoveries should be easy jogs or walks – I tend to try and stick to my GA pace. I’m not sure why, but I feel like sustaining the effort makes for a better session? I’m not sure if that’s right or not but it’s what I’ve always done, so I’ll stick with it for now.

Thursday was a truly horrific day to go running in. With howling rain and 42mph gusts of wind and snow forecast and 1 decree celsius it was not nice heading out! My limbs and digits were all freezing and I don’t think I warmed up through the run at all. That said, I managed to maintain a very tidy pace and I felt like it was a good run. It had some good climbing in there too which added to the difficulty too.

It’s runs like this, when the conditions are terrible, that are actually the BEST that there are. If you can head out in the worst conditions you develop mental and physical resilience so you know come race day, whatever the weather throws at you, you have faced it before.

On Saturday, Jodie and her Dad were planning on getting their gait analysis done at Reading Sweatshop. So we visited Woodley parkrun. Our second visit there, our last visit was Christmastime 2015 (The Saturday after Boxing day if I recall). It’s a 3 lap course, mostly flat. The weather was clear and crisp and there were 350 finishers – one of them being the Father in law smashing his PB and coming in in 28:50! It wasn’t long ago he was delighted to run around in 33, then 32, then 31 minutes so this is an amazing achievement! Everyone at Woodley was so friendly – Volunteers and runners, it really is a template for everything parkrun can be. We couldn’t stop around for a coffee but have no doubt it would have been excellent!

Sunday saw the longest run since the Bournemouth Marathon, 18 miles. Again, my target was to keep it at just sub-8 minute miling. I’d managed it for my 16 last week, so I hoped I could push through for a bit more distance – and I’m delighted to say I could! Aside from a toilet stop and a water stop I felt very controlled through most of it, with some very consistent splits. The route is a bit tricky as the first half is mostly uphill which meant that the second half was mostly down – I think that helped a lot.

It did get noticeably tougher after 16 miles, which I was expecting. Not so much cardio-wise, but certainly in the legs. But as I got to the end I still felt I had more to give. I finished feeling pretty pleased with myself for both the consistency and the way I was feeling afterwards. Good for the confidence!

Weight

The second week of the diet and its been much tougher than the first. I knew it would be, it always is, and I know if I can get through the next 2 weeks as well then the main cravings will subside and it will be a bit easier to maintain.

My vital stats were:

Weight: 14st 10lbs (-2lbs)
Body Fat %: 24.1% (-0.8%)

Using some basic maths I worked out this meant my entire weight loss was fat which is good! Somehow I’d also gained a little bit of muscle mass too. It is a little less than I had hope, I’d hoped to push into the 3lb loss zone, but its headed in the right direction!

Now I need to consolidate this with another strict week.

Summary

All in all, a very good week and I’m feeling very pleased. My legs are feeling a bit tired, so I am thankful of the rest day today (Monday) though I’m not sure how my legs are going to react for a Threshold run on tuesday (See below) but just like with every run, I’ll give it all I’ve got. No pain no gain!

Looking at my Fitness Trend I can see I have had a reasonably loaded week, though my Long Run didn’t affect me as much as it did last week, according the the data.

Now, I know I felt comfortable for the whole run but the Heart Rate data does seem a bit low. it was a very wet run, and I’m not sure if that had an effect. On the other hand, my long run was actually on the Sunday rather than jamming it in on a Saturday so had a bit more recovery for it – The week previous was Threshold Run/Rest Day/Long Run which could also explain it. More great examples of why StravistiX is awesome!

Next Week

For the first time this cycle, my plan matches the book! There are 2 key sessions – A threshold Run and a Marathon paced run. This is a big week – thankfully its a “Recovery Week” after this which also signals the end of the first training mesocycle – the time is flying by!

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 9m (5m Lactate Threshold) 9m (5m Lactate Threshold)
Wednesday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Thursday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic
Friday Rest Rest
Saturday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Sunday 16m (10m Marathon Pace) 16m (10m Marathon Pace)
Total Mileage 45m 45m

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 3 of 18

Winter really kicked in this week. Most of my runs have been in the bitter cold and a few a little bit slippy. I’ve started to feel the training load a little bit, particularly early on in the week but that seems to have subsided a bit toward the end of the week. Running my long run on a Saturday again doesn’t help I don’t think, but I think this is the last time I’ll need to do that.

Saying that I’m still feeling like its all manageable and I am going into my sessions feeling fresh which is very positive. No doubt thanks to this very well controlled gradual mileage progression I’ve carefully worked towards over the last few months!

I’m trying to maintain this steady increase until the next mesocycle when the MP runs and recovery weeks jolt the mileage around a bit, but by then I’m hoping the gradual conditioning I’ve done will mean I can take that all in my stride!

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest 10m General Aerobic Moved as work meant I wouldn’t have time on Tuesday.
Tuesday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic Rest
Wednesday 4m Recovery 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Thursday 8m (4m Lactate Threshold) 8m (4m Lactate Threshold) 8m (4m Lactate Threshold)
Friday Rest Rest Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 5m Recovery 16m Medium-long Wouldn’t have time on Sunday so switched it to Saturday. Incorporated Andover parkrun.
Sunday 14m Medium-long 16m Medium-long 5m Recovery
Total Mileage 40m 44m

Due to work schedules meaning I wouldn’t have time to run on Tuesday, I moved my General Aerobic run to Monday, and boy was it tough. I still had Saturday’s MP long run in my legs, then on Sunday the parkrun double – I really felt the burn! Despite some good elevation I managed to retain the pace zone I needed to be in – but man oh man Tuesday’s rest day was bliss!

The key session of the week was the Lactate Threshold run and it was a bit of a beast. it was FREEZING cold but I still went out in a vest (I knew/thought I’d warm up – I didn’t). I reached about 2.5 miles into the threshold section when my brain started telling me to stop or rest or take a break. it took quite a lot for me to ignore it! I’m glad I did though, but the thought of extending the threshold section to 5 miles in 2 weeks time worries me as I was blowing out of my ass after the 4! Still, there’s 2 weeks to go before I need to worry about that!

The long run had to be moved to Saturday due to some scheduling issues with Family coming over, so I ended up doing 12 and a bit miles, to parkrun then parkrun with the buggy! I managed to time the first 12 pretty well to get there a little ahead of the run brief (I didn’t want to be hanging around standing still) – and managed to sneak in a bit more too so by the end of parkrun I was at 15.9 so just topped it up before scanning!

It took a while to get going thanks to the early start – 7.20am! Not often I head out that early, but it was worth it to get home at 10am knowing 16 miles were in the bank. After 4 miles or so I thought I was going to struggle all the way around but after 6 I feel like I found my flow. It helped that by then it wasn’t very dark and I was a bit more awake! So the pace increased a bit.

I tested my gels for the first time this campaign and am sticking with 1 every 4 miles as its worked for me before. From a hydration point of view, I felt I didn’t have enough – but thats challenging for me on a long run. I don’t like carrying bottles. I slowly drank from a 500ml bottle for the first 10m. I then stopped in the shop and needed to down another 500ml to rehydrate (I got another one too to take with me). So maybe I need about 100ml per mile?

The parkrun course was muddy as anything – and pushing the buggy around it in my road shoes made it really tough going with some slower miles. But the average pace for the whole run was 7.58 per mile – right where I wanted it! So thats a good confidence booster. Need to try and sustain it for 2 more miles next week. 18 at that sort of pace would make me very happy!

Weight

So one of the key parts of my strategy for running a Good for Age time is losing weight. Unfortunately, I’ve been woefully inept up until this point in making a start on it. In my defence, it has been Christmas!

Jodie and I, since Monday, have been making a dedicated effort at shedding the excess timber. We’re both back to obsessively entering every morsel into MyFitnessPal and will be weighing in every week on a Friday.

As an added motivator, I sent an email round at work this week to set up a “new year weight loss challenge” with an entry fee, with whoever loses the most weight (As a percentage of their starting weight) wins half the money (The other half goes to charity). Had a few bites, so will use that as a motivating tool as well.

Here’s my starting stats – the only ones I’m really interested in tracking at least:

Weight: 14st 12lbs
Body Fat %: 24.9%

Its not as bad as I feared, but still have around 21lbs to lose if I want to reach 17% body fat (Rough calculation). That’s a shade under 1.5lbs a week and very acheiveable. It also means I’ll be around a stone lighter than I was for Manchester – that’s got to have an impact on my finish time right?!

Summary

Another solid weeks training. I’m still feeling very strong and all my metrics are pointing in the right direction. Looking at how this week has affected my Fitness Trend I can see a sensible amount of overload that isn’t forcing my “form” score below 20.

If I can keep this solid and sensible training increase I’m confident good things come come – hand in hand with a sensible week’s diet improvements should be forthcoming.

Onwards and upwards into week 4!

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides) 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Thursday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic
Friday Rest Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 5m Recovery Extra mile to continue weekly mileage increase
Sunday 15m Medium-long 18m Long Build up my long runs faster as already running this distance pre-plan
Total Mileage 42m 46m 2m more than previous week

StravistiX – Awesome analysis for Strava

Introduction

A while back I came across an addon for Strava called “StravistiX“. Its totally free and it gets installed as a Google Chrome browser extension – but only works on your computer rather than on your mobile devices. (The extension exists for Opera too which is a lesser used browser, but not for Firefox, which is more well used which is a bit odd). I already think Strava is amazing for training analysis, but StravistiX takes things a step further.

What it does is embeds extra bits and bobs (OK, stats if you want to get technical) into the Strava website as you are browsing it. Some are more interesting and useful than others admittedly, but they recently introduced a feature that really opened my eyes. Apparently, something similar is already in Strava, but only for Cycling data and only with a Premium subscription. Its also the same as the Performance Chart in Training Peaks, but again requires a premium subscription.

So, for StravistiX to have this for free is a real bonus.

Once the addon is installed, you configure the settings to tell it your weight, gender, age and configure things like your heart rate and pace zones. You can also turn on and off features you do and don’t want to use. I haven’t tried all of them as there are a LOT, so the rest of the post is on the features I’ve tried, and I like.

Stravistix Settings

Subtle Enhancements to Strava

First up there’s this tile which gets added to your Profile page (It displays for you only on your profile) and shows you where you are at this year versus your previous years activity history – helpful if you want to “beat” last years mileage goal or something similar!

Stravistix Progressions for Strava

The Flyby is a feature in Strava I love to use because I’m a nosy so and so. When I’m out running and I pass someone who is absolutely flying, when I get back I look at my Flyby, and if they are on Strava I can see what session they were doing and view the activity data. Admittedly, its a bit stalky but its also helpful when looking at a race and see how you tore away from (or got left for dust) by the rest of the field! StravistiX embeds the Flyby button to every activity on your activity feed, so its easy to access the Flyby much faster.

Stravistix Flyby for Strava

The next panel appears when you are viewing an activity. It gives you some great additional stats for that activity, like how much of it were you climbing. It also shows you your “TRIMP”. This stands for “TRaining IMPulse” and I’ll talk about that a bit later in the post, but its similar to your Suffer Score – which is only available to Strava Premium members – so this is another free alternative to premium membership!

Enhanced training stats for Strava by Stravistix

Clicking the “Show Extended Statistics” button then lets you see full screen a full and detailed analysis of your data. The “Grade” information is shown below. But it also shows you heart rate, pace, cadence, and elevation. It splits them all into fully configurable Zones so you can see the effect of grade on your pace and heart rate, for example. Strava limits these zones, so having flexibility to add more could be attractive for some people.

Grade chart for Strava by Stravistix
Segments are one of my favourite things about Strava, and StravistiX have enhanced the segment view too. It adds some extra columns and colours to the segments that you crossed in your activity, so you can analyse your segment attempts directly on the list. It shows how far away you were from the CR, your PR and your ranking against the leaderboard for the effort.
Strava Segment Analysis by Stravistix

But now for something a whole lot more interesting…

The “Multi-Sport Fitness Trend”

Recently StravistiX released this (rather wordy – why not just “Fitness Trend”) feature and it seemed… somewhat familiar. Confusing, yet familiar. It essentially examines your training history and plots it into a chart showing 3 key metrics, all based around your “TRIMP” – I told you I’d come back to it!

TRIMP

TRIMP is your TRaining IMPulse and is a measure of the amount of effort you put into an activity. It calculates it based upon your heart rate during the activity and the zones you are working in. It’s just like Strava showing you your Suffer Score. The longer you run the higher your score gets. But if you are running “easy” then the score accrues at a lower rate then if you are running at your lactate threshold. So harder runs accrue a higher TRIMP. It does this totally dynamically, so is you have 2 miles easy, 4 miles at threshold and 2 miles recovery, it will accrue the score based upon just that, so for 2 miles your TRIMP will accrue slowly, for 4 miles it increases quickly, then for 2 more it accrues more slowly.

Fitness, Fatigue and Form

It uses these TRIMP scores, applies some calculations and plots them into a whizzy chart as 3 different metrics.

The first metric is called “Fitness”. This a rolling average of your TRIMP over the last 42 days and is also known as your Chronic Training Load – it gives an indicator of how fit you are based upon your training history. So, if you had a week with no running, this would slowly decrease – after all you don’t suddenly become unfit overnight! Similarly if you ran a bunch of hard efforts this would slowly increase as you can’t suddenly become more fit just because you ran a couple of hard efforts!

The flip side to your running – particularly running hard – is that you get fatigued. The harder you run (higher TRIMP) the more fatigued you are afterwards. The Fitness Trend tracks the average of your last 7 days exertions to give you your “Fatigue” score, also known as Acute Training Load. So, if you don’t run any hard sessions for a week, your Fatigue score will drop more drastically than  your Fitness Score as its based on your short term rather than your long term history.

Thankfully, the third metric is simpler to understand. It’s called “Form” and is quite simply your FitnessFatigue. So lets say your Fitness is 80 and your Fatigue is 90. Your Form is -10. This indicates that you are a bit tired and not quite race sharp – You are more fatiguesd than you are fit. On the other hand, lets say your Fitness remained at 80, but your fatigue is only 70 – this gives you a Form of +10 – you are less fatigued and sharper to race (or indeed run a hard session)!

Practicalities – Using Form Zones

Looking at it like that it really does confirm the old adage that there really are no short cuts to “Fitness” – the less fatigued you are, the better you race. Not exactly rocket science I know, and it’s intel we all (should)  know anyway, but seeing this visually plotted over time is much more helpful than simply seeing your Strava suffer score for your single activity.

But with all these things, the tool is only useful if you can use it practically. So, what can you actually use it for. A recent addition to the tool has added “Form Zones” so you can see roughly how these efforts are/should be affecting your training and race performance.

The below is taken directly from the StravistiX documentation.

  • +25 < Form : Transition zone. Athlete is on form. Case where athlete has an extended break. (e.g. illness, injury or end of the season).
  • +5 < Form < +25 : Freshness Zone. Athlete is on form. Ready for a race.
  • -10 < Form < +5 : Neutral Zone. Zone reached typically when athlete is in a rest or recovery week. After a race or hard training period.
  • -30 < Form < -10 : Optimal Training Zone.
  • Form < -30 : Over Load Zone. Athlete is on overload or over-training phase. He should take rest
  1. You can use your current form to make sure you push your training load so that your hard efforts are greater than your current fitness, but in a sensible way. By keeping your form between -30 and -10 is the sustainable way to see your perfromance improve. Any less than this and the benefits of your training will likely be negligible.
  2. You  can also see if you are over-training and risking injury by seeing a sharp spike in your “Fatigue” score as it will push you into the “Over Load Zone” The longer and higher you push that spike above your current fitness, the longer you’ll spend in this zone and the greater the injury risk. So if you are pushing that Form Score beyond -30 then beware.
  3. It shows quite clearly why you should avoid back to back hard efforts and how important rest is – you simply keep accruing fatigue and pushing your “Form” lower and lower below 0, risking bad things happening to your body. It also shows how important it is for recovery runs to be just that – they maintain your fitness but reduce your fatigue, as long as you do them at the right effort.
  4. It highlights the need for regular “quality” sessions to push you beyond your current “Fitness” score. If you aren’t pushing yourself regularly your form will slip into the “Neutral” zone. This is the zone you’ll find yourself in if you are in a recovery phase/week, or are tapering for a race. If you are spending a long period of time in this zone you are likely putting in “junk” miles and you’ll not see any long term improvement by hanging around in here!
  5. You can tell when you are ready to race as you’ll find your form in the “Freshness” zone, which will be somewhere between +5 and +25. Your short term intensity has lowered meaning your fatigue has dropped below your fitness score so you are fresh to race! This is evidenced quite nicely in the attached section from my chart – I didn’t think I was capable of the PB I got at Poole last year, but the chart shows my Fatigue had reduced by the perfect amount. Now if I see a Form score like that before a race I’ll know I can give it a good effort!
  6. You can, to some degree, use it to plan or at least assess your taper. Over time and history you know the sorts of sessions you will be running and what your TRIMP is likely to be and you can work out when you might peak. I might be a nice feature addition to allow a user to enter some values here to model their taper.
  7. The basic rules of cause and effect are, you train at a certain speed for a certain time you get better at running that speed. To get faster you need to push yourself on further again. I use McMillan to reassess my training paces after a race normally, but when training this might not be frequent enough. Now, I can see when my training reaches a plateau as I would be in the Neutral zone, even though I’m not doing a recovery or taper week. With this intelligence I can assess if I need to increase my training paces to increase the training stimulus. This should ensure a faster increase in performance as long as you don’t overly fatigue yourself in the process.

Review

I was blown away by this feature. Really. To some degree just because it proved that my training methodology made some sense, but mainly because I can see, long term, how this can help me improve as a runner.

It’s not anything particularly new – The creator credits Banister and Coggan (References below) who came up with and improved this concept  – but embedding it into your existing Strava data was jsut really nice and so easy to use. It took my some time to understand but once I did, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by it.

StravistiX have done a lot of hard work and made this free, Full credit to Thomas Champagne for a brilliant app. I will be donating to the project in thanks.

THIS POST WAS UPDATED 11th January 2017 to reflect great new additions to Fitness Trend.

Credits

Thanks to this article which explained to me what these numbers actually meant on a practical level. Credit: Training Peaks http://home.trainingpeaks.com/blog/article/applying-the-numbers-part-3-training-stress-balance

BANISTER, E. W. 1991. Modeling Elite Athletic Performance. In: MACDOUGALL, J. D., WENGER, H. A. & GREEN, H. J. (eds.) Physiological Testing of Elite Athletes. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics

Wikipedia also has more information on the topic: http://fellrnr.com/wiki/Modeling_Human_Performance

Stravistix use the attached link as a source of information and I read it too to understand the practical uses of the zones: http://www.joefrielsblog.com/2015/12/managing-training-using-tsb.html

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 2 of 18

Happy New Year!

2016 is over and as I write/post this on New Years day I’ve already banged in 2 parkruns. Thats dedication!

Training has gone well on the whole this week, hitting all my sessions. I am pleased for the new year to come now though. Its time to really eat cleanly and knuckle down with the training. Its such a shame Jantastic isn’t around any more, it was a great incentive for the new year!

There was a noticable temperature drop this week too, its been bloody freezing outside! Had to be a bit careful not to slip on my arse. Still out in a vest mind, in spite of the sub-zero temperatures!

So, here’s how the week went.

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides) 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides) 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday Rest 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Thursday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic
Friday Rest Rest Rest
Saturday 5m Recovery 14m (8m Marathon Pace) 14m (8m Marathon Pace) Moved to saturday to accommodate the parkrun NYD double
Sunday 13m (8m Marathon Pace) 5m Recovery 3m Recovery
3m Recovery
Parkrun NYD double!
Total Mileage 40m 42m  43.2m 1.5m more than previous week

The key session this week was the Marathon-paced run. I wasn’t really looking forward to it and spent the night before agonising over a route.I was right to be wary, the last few miles were awful. I’m carrying some Christmas weight, so the fact I hit all my splits was more through sheer bloody mindedness than anything else, as it was anything BUT comfortable.

There was also a speed session run this week, 10 strides in an 8 miler. The strides felt really good and I love injecting some speed into a longer run – I really feel it benefits my running economy and lengthens my stride out well. Didn’t plan the route very well though, the last couple were uphill!

My General Aerobic running always seems to end up being faster than I should be running. I think I need to focus on that a bit more next week, try and rein it in a bit and leave me a bit fresher for the bigger runs.

This week also saw me hit my target of 2016 miles in 2016! I made it with 5 days to go – easy! I rounded the year off with 2049 miles – might highest annual mileage ever – pretty chuffed with that.

The week rounded off with the annual NYD parkrun double! We always try and visit new venues for this special day and this year was no exception, visiting Havant and Queen Elizabeth.

Havant parkrun

The first stop on this years NYD double was Havant. It was about a 50 minute drive to get there, and wasn’t until we arrived that we realised it was £1.80 to park! We didn’t have any change though so risked it without… and got away with it!

The biggest piece of news here was that Havant was my 50th different venue! Thats halfway to joining the “Cowell Club”. (Well, over halfway now as Queen Elizabeth was venue 51!)

Based in Staunton Country Park, the course was a mini loop followed by 2 bigger loops. The mini loop was on higher ground than the bulk of the bigger loop which meant there was a steep downhill and a less steep uphill to negotiate – twice!

The pre-run brief was a bit muffled – there were a lot of people and it was mostly misheard, but it seemed many were parkrun regulars with, unsurprisingly, a lot of tourists!

The course was quite tricky for a buggy. Lots of deep puddles/potholes, a very rocky surface which meant it was a bumpy ride for the baby, and lots of rutted channels. I lost control a couple of times as the single front wheel got channelled away from me!

We kept a good “recovery” pace (Following Saturday’s move Marathon-paced long run) and came round in just under 30 minutes.

There were toilets nearby but couldn’t sample the cafe as we needed to get up the road to venue 2 for the day!

Queen Elizabeth parkun

6 miles away (according to the sat-nav) was Queen Elizabeth Country Park. The drive was short and we stopped to get parking change on the way too! Driving in was lovely, a real country park along the lines of Alice Holt or a National Trust/Forestry Commission venue. A really stunning location!

Parking is £1.80 if you go in the visitor centre and show your barcode. This was a more favourable option than waiting in the bloody long queue for the pay and display machine!

Looking at the previous results this is a small parkrun, rarely breaking to 100 finishers mark – and I can see why. The picturesque location will be secondary for most to a more favourable course – as QE is NOT easy. 1 small lap followed by 1 big lap, with a monster of a hill which means you are climbing for about 1.5 k of the course!

This does of course mean there are some potentially fast downhills but the course is mostly woodland trail with some rocky/rutted sections so of course it is a bit risky, especially with the buggy! I gave it a good rinsing though! To the point all the contents of the basket came out! Oops! Thankfully all the very friendly parkrunners offered their help and support to return my possessions!

The long flattish section was a very muddy section which played havoc with the buggy wheels (and many ill prepared runners underfoot grip – My Salomans loved it!) and at one point the buggy got totally stuck – I literally had to lift it out!

But with all that said, I loved it. A course right up my street, with bags of character. The cafe was excellent too, and though very busy, the staff were brilliant and extended the “breakfast” times to make up for the fact the queue of hungry parkrunners was snaking around the inside of the cafe around the tables!

Queen Elizabeth goes on my “favourites” list as it was a lot of fun. Jodie disagreed though!!

Summary

A successful second weeks training, and now the festive period is over its time to crack down. No booze in January, and back on MyFitnessPal with regular weigh ins. the REAL hard work starts now!

Now heres next week’s plan.

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic
Wednesday 4m Recovery 5m Recovery Extra mile to continue weekly mileage increase
Thursday 8m (4m Lactate Threshold) 8m (4m Lactate Threshold)
Friday Rest Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 5m Recovery Extra mile to continue weekly mileage increase
Sunday 14m Medium-long 16m Medium-long Build up my long runs faster as already running this distance pre-plan
Total Mileage 40m 44m 1m more than previous week