This week was 61 miles of running, 15 "miles" of pool-running, and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.
It's been a while since I've posted a "normal week." I've been racing a lot, and so it seems that most weeks I've been skipping one or both of the workouts due to pre-race rest or post-race recovery. The racing's been great, but it's the right time to switch back and spend a few weeks training consistently.
Since I'm not writing about racing, I get to write about other stuff. Including the new running power meter I started playing with a few weeks ago. It's a footpod that clips to the laces of one of my shoes. It syncs up with my watch and captures a ton of metrics about my running that I can later view.
What metrics? Well...stuff like "power" and "form power" and "leg spring stiffness" and "vertical oscillation" and several other fields. Power is how much work I am doing while running; the other metrics are various ways to assess the efficiency of my running form.
[for an example of the metrics, here's my report from Broad Street a few weeks back. The power meter metrics are towards the bottom of the page]
Of course, there's no consensus on what the optimal values are for the metrics, or even if there are optimal valies. I'm honestly not sure how useful the metrics and graphs are, other than being pretty to look at and fun to compare.
From what I can tell, my running is very efficient but not very powerful. I already knew that. And that knowledge doesn't change anything for me, other than giving me running efficiency bragging rights on an extremely obscure corner of the internet.
[Aside: my hunch is that any success I've had as a masters runner is because my speed comes from efficiency, rather than the ability to generate force. My reasoning is that efficiency declines at a much slower rate than power as one ages, and so I'm not losing speed as fast as others. My high efficiency is also probably why I can run passably even when my asthma is flaring. I can "fake it" much better than someone whose running ability stems from power. It's also probably why I feel my running benefits greatly from time spent in the gym - because stuff like barbell lunges and step-ups develop power, which is my weakness.]
I've spent a fair amount of my free time on various fora reading about power meters and power and various applications. There is a group of runners who have found religion about training and racing "with power." And they are working to spread the gospel to the masses. Via the internet, of course.
These runners assert that power is a better metric for pacing one's run than either heart rate or pace. Why? Because heart rate changes can lag several seconds behind effort changes or be affected by heat or hydration. And pace can be affected by inclines or wind - 6:40 pace uphill into the wind is more work than 6:40 on a clear morning on the track. In contrast, power changes instantly to match effort and the measurement of power is not affected by heat or hydration. Power also changes to show that you are doing more work when running uphill than down.
Proper pacing is about expending your effort most effectively. Thus, since power is the best and most accurate measure of effort, it's the best metric to use for pacing a workout or race.
That's the argument. And it makes sense. But then everyone gets buried in the details. They spend hours conducting power tests and then calculating power targets based on the tests, and then debating how the power target for a race should be modified if it's a warm day or one is not fully recovered.
Which makes me realize (again) how few people rely on the true best metric for pacing - perceived effort.
Admittedly, it's tough initially to shed the numbers and just rely on how you feel when you race. Because it's really hard to trust how you feel, and to distinguish between the bullshit that your body will tell you and the truth of your own effort. But once you learn to pace by feel, it's unquestionably the best measure. Perceived effort is instantaneous, accurate, and accounts for weather, incline, nutrition, etc.
Additionally, perceived effort avoids the potential self-limitation that comes with other metrics. What if you've improved very recently? So that your target pace or power level for a race is no longer the limit of what you are capable of on race day? Fixating on a goal number on your watch, be it pace or power, can keep you from reaching your potential. If you run off of feel, you'll run the best race you're capable of that day, rather than talking yourself into a slower time because the numbers didn't look right.
Monday: In the morning, yoga and 6 "miles" of pool-running. Foam rolling at night.
Tuesday: In the morning, 12 miles including a workout of 2x800, 1600, 2x800, 2x400 in 2:53, 2:50, 5:50, 2:50, 2:51, 84, 82. Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.
Wednesday: In the morning, 8 miles easy (8:53) to yoga, yoga, and then another 4 miles (8:53), followed by drills and strides. Massage at night.
Thursday: In the morning, upper body weights/core and 9 "miles" pool-running. Foam rolling at night.
Friday: In the morning, 11 miles including a track workout of 3200m, 1600m in 12:33 (6:17/6:16) and 5:55. Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling in the afternoon.
Saturday: In the morning, 10 miles very easy (8:44) with drills and strides, followed by upper body weights plus core and injury prevention work. Foam rolling in the evening.
Sunday: In the morning, 16 miles progressive, split as first 5 at 8:59, next 5 at 7:44, last 6 at 6:56. Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling in the afternoon.