Monday, April 21, 2014

Training metrics and post-Woodside Ramble recovery

Today, as I'm typing this, is the Boston Marathon. If I'd been 40 seconds faster @ CIM 2012, I'd have had a qualifying time and maybe I'd be running the streets of Boston instead. But rather than running Boston I'm a week after meeting a New Year's resolution, to run my first ultra, the Woodside Ramble 50 km last Sunday.

I'd had a training plan for the race, and it crashed and burned when 3.5 weeks out oral surgery left me fatigued and prone to allergies. My running came to a virtual halt for 12 days, leaving just enough time for a brief test run and 3 decent volume days before I had to taper for the final week before the big day (indulging in a 17-km test run 3 days prior). This completely blew my plan to do big volume up to 2 weeks before, then taper in: maintaining CTS the second-to-last week, then letting it slip slightly that last week to come in with an optimized combination of freshness & fitness.

CTS is a metric of chronic training stress, ATS of acute training stress, and they are typically calculated using 42-day and 7-day exponentially weighted averages of daily training stress. For daily stress I simply use km run or hiked (my hikes all being early in the training cycle).

Here's the plot of my runs to date:


Races are indicated with the orange bars, along with the ratio of CTS (/day) to the race distance. The green points are CTS, the red points ATS, and the dashed lines are the trend lines I was targeting.

The CTS curve, which is correlated with fitness, came into the 50 km race at 6.6 km/day, only 10% higher than it had been going into my 30 km 7 weeks before. That hadn't been the plan. ATS went in at 7.2 km per day. This was a lot lower than it had been going into the 30 km race, 8.5 km/day, but it had been my plan to go into the 50 km race with ATS below CTS. The long break from volume due to the oral surgery compromised both my fitness and freshness.

Despite this total failure of metrology, the run went very well for me. If I'd been able to stick to plan, maybe I'd have made up the 7 minutes I'd needed to medal in my age group, which had been a stretch goal. But I met all of my primary goals which were:

  1. Run the whole distance except for climbs, which I would power walk. No death march!
  2. Race the finish.
  3. No acute pain.
  4. Finish in under 5:30.

Along the way, I managed to negative split the course. Not bad for first try!

Among my goals was not to recover well. Recovery simply wasn't a concern during the race. I was going to leave it all on the trail.

Despite this, I've recovered remarkably well. The next day, I was forced to run 500 meters to catch a train from work (not my most productive day at work, I admit: I was pretty wasted). Then Tue I rode my bike to the train (as opposed to Monday's walk/run). This committed my to climbing the 24% grade of 20th Street to get home, which I did in my 38/24 on my old pre-110mm BCD Trek 1500 (I avoid the 38/28 when possible). Then Wed I was ready to start actually running again. 5.8 km in multiple runs on Wed, then a 5.3 km evening run on Thu, then 5.8 km on Friday.

But I have some cycling goals in my near future, so I can't obsess about this chart any more. On 11 May, in particular, is a race up Mount Diablo, when the NCNCA USA Cycling championship hill climb time trial is in June. So I need to focus on converting some of that running fitness into bike fitness.

So Friday also included my first day of bike training in around 2 months. I took the old-school Trek 1500 up the Montebello-Peacock Court climb which I can access from work. I failed to break 7 minutes, Stravaing the segment in 7:02, but my legs felt like sludge, and my work Frog cleats were clicking in my pedals. So I took it. That I was able to get my run in that evening was good.

Saturday, according to my metrics, was a rest day, but physically it was not: I did 4 repeats of Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands, then followed that with Fillmore Street, the most challenging climb in the old San Francisco Grand Prix professional one-day "classic". That was a good day.

Then Sunday, plans to go mountain biking in Oakland with Cara fell through, so I headed out for a run, and the gorgeous, uncharacteristically warm San Francisco weather induced me to run further than I'd planned: 20.1 km, again including Fillmore (this time on foot). Afterwards I did some more steep climbs on my bike, just part of riding places I needed to go.

My goal for getting my bike fitness in gear:

  1. Do plenty of climbing. Short hill intervals, a few Noon Rides up Old La Honda, at least one visit to Mount Diablo before that May race.
  2. SF2G at least once per week for some base. But no long weekend rides: focus on intensity, not ditance.
  3. The Memorial Day Bike Tour. I signed up for this months ago: 4 days from Campbell to Santa Barbara. This is a lot of fun and the fact it provides a nice dose of fitness is a happy side-effect.
  4. Keep running. I don't want to completely squander my running fitness, as I've done too often in the past. I like focusing on one thing at a time, so this will become a substantial challenge as my cycling improves. But I want to do more trail races this year, and that won't happen if I hang up my running shoes until June. This includes running after each day of the Memorial Day tour. Obviously I need to scale back my run schedule to fit in the bike work. But it would be fun to do another 50 km this year. I think that at least is reasonable. A 50 miler might be a stretch.

Hopefully, no more tooth problems!

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