Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Slow Race Test

I'm excited! Since my 'gift run' on October 21, the renegade calf has been well behaved. Some readers, such as 2P, DJ and Tesso might even suggest it has been corralled. Last week I ran 42 kilometres, a rule-breaking increase in volume of 35% over the previous week.

Reading the blogs of Robert Song and Steve L has given me an idea for a fitness test. I'm calling it the 'Slow Race Test'. My usual way of testing fitness is to run as fast as possible in a 3 to 5k race. My Slow Race Test is to run a set distance (I've decided on 3000 metres) at a set average heart-rate and time how long it takes to complete the distance.

I've chosen a heart-rate of 138, which for me, is about 84% of my 165 maximum. It's easy, controllable running for speed and heart-rate. If you decided to try it, you'll need a flat course and 'normal' weather with no wind. It takes me 400 metres or so to gradually accelerate the heart-rate up to 138.

I did this test on October 12 for a 3000m time of 18:16. I repeated the test today in 16:57, which shows an improvement in cardiovascular fitness. I think it's a useful test, as it can be done at any time during the week (even on an easy day) and is less stressful than racing. Eventually I want to do the test during the week of a 'fast race' (if that ever happens), so I'll have an SRT time that indicates possible good racing form.


Blogger 2P said...

Corralled is fine and a great time to take stock.

The only thing you need to watch for your test Ewen is significant changes in ambient temperature and/or humidity.

It's also a very cunning way of me not knowing how fast you are running - very shrewd Ewen, very shrewd ;-)

8:34 pm  
Blogger Sekhmet said...

What a very cool idea.....if I ever find somewhere flat to run around here I might give it a go ;-)

8:57 pm  
Blogger Tesso said...

Gee, 2P doesn't mince words does he.

What a great idea you have there, its kind of like a time trial. Now I'm starting to think about doing somethig similar.

9:37 pm  
Blogger Superflake said...

Very good idea Ewen. And a huge improvement in speed already. Or you could be just foxing so your opponents don't know what you are doing. Now there's a plan.

9:49 pm  
Blogger Spark Driver said...

Thats a great idea. Just need to find a flat area.

Me with a Mo and topless pics on my blog?? Now that is a scarey thought.

10:25 pm  
Anonymous Steve said...

Good idea and I'm thinking of adapting it, probably use a track and I'm thinking of a brisk walk for set time or distance. I'm off to google this whole idea. Thanks Ewen.

10:53 pm  
Blogger Lulu said...

That sounds like a great way of testing your fitness. Now all I need is a HRM ;)

8:35 am  
Blogger wannabecoach said...


I hope you have taken out a world wide patent on this revolutionary scientific approach.

Someone like speedygeoff might adopt your methods and take all of the credit for Australia becoming the world's leading athletics nation.

9:27 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

I've always wanted to do that. I think it would be a great measure of monitoring fitness and improvements, but I sold my HRM just as I was starting to use it! The plan was to get a better one, but then the money got spent on cycling shoes, running shoes, tri day :)

10:37 am  
Blogger Susan said...

I agree with wannabecoach . . . you've got to patent this sheer scientific genious!

10:42 am  
Blogger Southy said...

I like it Ewen. Simple and relatively easy way to monitor fitness. Could use any flat course really.
Have to pick a day though that you are feeling relatively rested though.

12:03 pm  
Blogger RunDave said...

I agree with 2p on the temperature factor. I couldn't believe your Max HR is 165. Mine is somewhere around 186-192! I find it hard to even run at a pace with 138 bpm.

Re the Mo. I don't know if "the deek" will suit me, but if the other style I'm aiming for doesn't work out, I may use it as my fall-back.

1:27 pm  
Blogger Tuggeranong Don said...

In addition to agreeing with all of the above, Ewen, it is also great to see that calf is doing well. Also wonderful to read the very positive focus of your post.

7:21 pm  
Blogger Luckylegs said...

84% of MHR is easy running? I suppose for one so youthful as yourself, this may be the case. One day, you'll know how it feels to the not so young anymore category!! Nevertheless, I agree with the others....a very smart move.

7:52 pm  
Blogger Luckylegs said...

132bpm would be about 84% of my 156 maximum; we're not that different it seems.

7:57 pm  
Blogger Stephen Lacey said...

Heeey!! Great idea! You should patent it ;-) ;-)

Couple of comments.
1) I think it is a well-chosen heart rate. The Maffetone definition of upper aerobic rate is too low for my liking, as you may recall. It is probably alright when at a relatively low level of fitness, but once you get that aerobic base built up, it is a bit too comfortable and you might not see improvements in pace -- though I have not fully tested that theory. I should go out and run it again now and see what results I get. But 84% should always be that little bit challenging and should always reward you with a faster pace as fitness improves.

2) Kind of related to the above, I wonder if 3000 m will become too short once you get a lot fitter. Hmmm, it is probably not a problem, especially if you front-end it with a 4 or 5 km warm-up.

Finally, as with others, very glad to hear that the calf is settling down.

10:57 pm  
Blogger Scott said...

Thanks Ewen

I'll give it a go. Just wondering how much temperature, wind and such things affect the heart rate on such a run. Or if there are other things that will affect heart rate that I should watch out for? Cause I'll try to factor these in when I do it. Waiting until all conditions are right to go could take a long time.

1:51 pm  
Blogger Stu said...

Great improvement happening Ewen, the control would be w a y to hard for me, great idea but!!!

5:09 pm  
Blogger Hilda said...

Thanks Ewen,

My traning right now recommends to participate in a 5km race and I was trying to figure out how to make it, this can help me.

Nice you were able to increase distance and your legs in general are doing well!

Thanks again for your nice words always, it is great to be in touch with you :)

10:13 am  
Blogger Robert Song said...

As you know I am a big fan of this sort of test.

I have found it can take up to 1000m to get up to a steady HR at a consistent pace. So be careful that you don't overshoot and have to slow down. It maybe better if you only time the last 2k.

Look forward to seeing how you progress.

1:36 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Scott, the main thing to avoid would be wind, as having a headwind is like running uphill. The 400m track we use has a slight hill and I had to slow down going up it to keep the HR at 138.

Steve and Robert, I think an improvement would be to have a 'running start' (about 500m would work for me) to get the HR at 84% before timing the 3000m. My kms were 5:26, 5:41 and 5:50, so I was able to run quicker before the HR got up.

9:21 pm  
Blogger Don Juan said...

Good experiment.

I was wondering why my blog was getting so many visits lately; just thought it was mad cow disease.

8:24 pm  
Blogger R2B said...

Sounds like a good Idea Ewen.

8:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mmm, might be interesting to try if I had a HR monitor...maybe I could run with two fingers on my jugular?

8:37 am  
Blogger wildthing said...

Aunty qualified for the world championships in florida and I was only doing vomitty cartwheels for ironman qualification. So, based on this technicality, I was saved. However she does have several lottery chances yet so they may be forthcoming.


11:24 am  
Blogger go girl said...

I really like the sound of this type of training. I think you are on to something here.

1:06 pm  

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