Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Sunday, March 30, 2014

2014 Maffetone Test #3

It's hard to believe that another month has already gone by.  In that time, I've done a few more long runs, managed to get outside on the bike a couple of days, and even had to take a week off from training after falling sick in early March.  Because of this, as well as some less than ideal weather, I'd delayed my Maffetone test by about a week.  In the end, I think this was helpful as it did give me a chance to get one more long run accomplished.  This meant that I had about the same number of long runs completed before completing the test for the third time.  I started doing these tests again beginning back in January as part of my "come back" strategy after last fall's bike crash.  The second test I completed near the end of February.
On Friday, a little before noon, I headed out the door.  As always, I try to keep things as consistent as possible from one test to the next.  This includes running the same course, wearing about the same clothing, and even listening to the same playlist during the run.  Perhaps the biggest difference this time was the wind.  It was coming out of the west was a bit stronger than usual.  That said, I don't believe it had a significant impact on my time (maybe a few seconds on each of the miles depending on whether or not the wind was in my face or at my back).  One other factor that doesn't seem to have impacted my results in any measurable way is weight.  While I normally weigh somewhere between 170-175 lbs, my last few checks this week have been more around 175-180 lbs.
The first part of the run is a 10 minute/ or 1 mile warm-up.  This works perfectly because it takes me to the part of the course that turns to a dirt path.  At that point, there really isn't any concern about cars for the next 4 miles which allows me to concentrate more on my pace, heart rate, etc.  In previous tests, I'd set the range between 130-139 bpm.  For this test, I decided to limit the range a bit more in hopes of staying a bit closer to my aerobic threshold.  During normal training, I don't worry about such precision, but I wanted to have it in place for the test so I wouldn't be inadvertently slowing down.   As a result the Garmin was set to beep at me if I strayed anywhere outside of 135-139 bpm's.  I had a few instances where this occurred but for the most part, I stayed within this zone the majority of the run.
Once again, this third Maffetone test produced a positive result and indicates that my aerobic efficiency is improving with increased training.  The chart below compares the pace per mile across the three tests (the heart rate staying consistent each time at around 136-138 bpm:
The blue line represents the most recent test.
As the chart indicates the average pace per mile has decreased from 11:02 during the first test to 10:18 on the second test, and now to 9:45, an overall drop of about 1 min, 17 seconds.  The slowest paced mile on each of the tests demonstrates a similar pattern with a change from 11:33 to 10:33 to 9:53, while the fastest mile changed from a 10:49 to 9:56 to 9:25.  The variation of pace between miles on each of the tests has also decreased.  During the first test back in January, there was a 48 second difference between the slowest and fastest miles.  During the second test that range dropped to 37 seconds.  On this third test, the range was now down to 28 seconds.  It was also nice to note that just as each of my miles on test #2 fell into the 10:00-11:00 minute category, all of my miles on the third test were now below 10 minutes.
In addition to analyzing the average pace, I also created a chart to show the average HR across each of the miles.  There is a slight increase from the previous tests, but on the whole, the HR stays within about 2 bpm at any given mile with no greater than a 3 bpm variation across the three averages:
The blue line represents the most recent test
In selecting a course to run on, I decided not to do my testing on a track this year in part because I wanted to see how changes in elevation would impact the results.  This is why you see an overall drop in the pace across the last few miles as there is more descent (a typical Maffetone test would be represented by a rising line as the pace slowed with decreased efficiency; you can see a good example of this from the tests I'd done on the track a little over a year ago).  The pattern basically held true again this time with a gradual increase in pace, before turning back down.  There was a notable change this time between miles three and four, but the overall pattern holds true.  The chart below shows pace, heart rate, and elevation with a snapshot a little over two miles into the test (note the test actually begins after 1 mile of warm-up):

The downhill portion of the run reveals a pace of about 9:00 per mile at that moment in time.
So, what's next?  I will continue to perform a Maffetone test on a monthly basis for the foreseeable future.  I think it makes for a nice measuring stick to see how my training is impacting my performance.  I'm eager to see how additional tests look and I'm curious about where I will "max out" in terms of performance at the aerobic threshold.  At some point that is bound to happen, and maybe after a couple of static results, I will "retire" the Maffetone tests for the season. While I'll continue to test, one thing that will be changing over the next two months is my approach to at least some of my training.  As I mentioned in my last post, I will begin introducing  workouts that exceed my aerobic threshold of 138 bpm.  While the majority of my training will still be at this level, I will also be including speed work into my training.  My next two events are sprint and olympic distance triathlons respectively, and I'd like to be sure that I have some experience with moving at a faster pace prior to these races.

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