Monday, June 20, 2011


We competitive runners are always seeking proof of improvement. The most obvious test of course is the race: run a Personal Best in a race (or an A/G best for us old folk) and one has improved. However, it's also reassuring to have proof that our training is likely to produce that exciting race. For myself, I like the MAF test (my version of it), where I run a steady 10k at around 79% of my maximum heart-rate (which happens to be 130). If I've improved then the pace for the 10k is faster than previous tests.

On Sunday 12 June I was visiting Mum (with one of my sisters) in Wagga and ran my usual 8.2k loop. I had a good run! Covered the distance at 5:17 per kilometre (8:30 miles for imperial readers) with an average heart-rate of 134. Some rudimentary mathematics suggests this is equivalent to 5:26 ks at a HR of 130. If so, this would be proof that I've at last improved from the 5:37 ks I've been stuck on the past few months. Recent runs have confirmed this improvement! Phil Maffetone's table on my post Whispering Sideways says 8:45 miles for the MAF test means a 5k race somewhere between 20:58 and 21:45. If I could do that right now I'd be one very happy wombat.

Now, the reasons for my improvement aren't clear. As Jog said in a comment on my last post, the variables affecting running performance are many. My mileage remains relatively low — around 60k (37 miles) per week. There are more tempo runs in the mix (some of these have been races at 'tempo effort'). I'm also running my 7k hill loop again, which contains 12 hills of various gradients. I feel like my leg muscles are regaining some springiness and my stride is becoming longer.

Kangaroo poo is proof!Kangaroo droppings are proof that Roos have visited my front yard!


Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

Glad to hear that your legs are as springy as that legend of the Aussie TV 'Skippy':0] nice one mate hope the improvements keep coming.
Are you doing short hill sprints yet ?

5:10 am  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

P.S.Next doors cat keeps craping in my front garden, but don't think I'll put a photo of said dropings on my blog!
Nice to see Skippy is still alive and kicking and shitting in your back yard :0]

7:09 am  
Blogger Girl In Motion said...

Bee-utifal! Nothing like progress to get your juices flowing. I'm so happy for you, you zippy little wombat (on the thin side for a wombat, but just as cute).

P.S. Nice turds.

7:32 am  
Blogger Andrew(ajh) said...

So, if the theory is low kms lead to improvement, does that mean as I haven't run once this month, I'm due a blinder?

7:40 am  
Blogger Thomas said...

How often do you do these tests? Regularly?

8:26 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Rick, no, I haven't started the short hill sprints yet - hope to this week. At least Roo droppings are clean compared to what the cat leaves behind!

Flo, thanks. Need my zippy little wombat legs to be springy when I get to race a 5k :)

Andrew, ah, you don't want me to answer that!

Thomas, I do the test at least weekly although I'm not pedantic about sitting exactly on the 130 average. Between 128 and 134 gives good data. The recent improvement was sudden, so I'm not sure what to make of it.

3:40 pm  
Blogger Lize Brittin said...

Nice post! I'm glad to read about the spring in your step. :)

10:36 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Lize. My step wasn't springy tonight but I'll blame that on the chain gang boss making me work too hard and long.

7:46 pm  
Blogger Scott Brown said...

Kangaroo droppings are proof of something alright and as Rick said you putting them up for all to see is proof of somethings else altogether!

Anyway, I'm happy you're making progress. But please tell me it has nothing to do with packing your pipe with those Kangaroo droppings!

12:09 am  
Blogger Love2Run said...

We have a big fence around our gardens to keep the deer out but it doesn't stop the racoons (like your wombat) from climbing over for a visit. I'm still voting for Lydiards program which put plenty of spring back in my legs and almost got me my sub-20 last month ;-)

8:51 am  
Blogger kevin f forde said...

Dog shit is usually my biggest concern on a run!!,between your roo droppings and Dave seeing crocs and snakes on his run it makes me realise how much easier I have it here in the states

10:47 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

That was a beauty Scott. If only you could come up with jokes like that for Twitter you could give up your day job ;)

Mike, that's great about your 5k. Must go back and check the details via FB (haven't been on there for quite a while). I'm by no means against Lydiard training... but not while I'm working long hours in a somewhat physically demanding job.

Kevin, I'm not so sure of that! Last time I was there I was shit-scared of being attacked by a mountain lion or shot by a hunter!

8:51 pm  
Blogger speedygeoff said...

It's all shit here Ewen. Whether barefoot running at Stromlo, or on the only synthetic 400m track closer than Campbelltown, ducks and other avine mammals were there first. Or haven't you noticed?

11:52 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Speedygeoff, at least Roo poo doesn't stick between one's toes like that from ducks. If Canberra had the one indoor track Australia deserves we wouldn't have a poo problem!

10:23 pm  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

Hope the spring in the step continues and more p roo f becomes apparent. Kangaroos probably can teach us something about running too...

3:50 pm  
Blogger Black Knight said...

Your mileage is not low. Compared to you I am not a runner at all (I am between 200 monthly km in winter and 160 in summer).
I have never made a test so I cannot say if they work.
I have a lot to learn from your posts. Thanks.

5:45 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Good comment TB. As soon as the boffins synthesise roo tendons I'm joining the queue for a transplant!

Stefano, my mileage is low for me. I've always thought my best running was with 80 to 100k per week, so 60-65 is new territory. Mileage in summer is always hard - our summers are hot!

9:07 pm  
Blogger Ali said...

I am not so much looking for proof of improvement as much as proof I actually ran :)

5:06 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Ali, if you need proof you've been running, read your blog! ;)

7:35 pm  
Blogger Chad said...

Sounds to me like you are going in the right direction. Keep up whatever you are doing.

3:45 am  
Blogger Mark U. said...

How do you know your maximum heart rate? I'd once read of the 220 minus age in years guideline, but I (and all of my 40+ running friends) find this guideline to be much too conservative.

9:00 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Hi Mark. I pretty much know my max HR is 165 as 164 is the highest I've recorded in high intensity racing or intervals. For example, when sprinting hard over the last 250m of a short race (1500m to 5k). If not an all-out 'desperate' finish my HR will only hit 160-162 at the end of short races. It's a coincidence (for me) that the 220-age formula suggests 166 as my max HR.

When I was racing 10ks in 37-low in my 30s, my max HR was around the low 180s. I can recall racing 10ks sitting on 175 back then.

12:27 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home