Friday, August 8, 2014

Plans and graphs, with a little luck

This is the day hurricane Iselle was supposed to roll over Oahu, but as luck would have it the storm fell apart as it crashed into the Big Island. Friday's are my rest day so no workouts were compromised, and I fought off the boredom of watching endless storm coverage on TV by running through Jay Dicharry's flexibility assessment drills, followed by a little free weight exercise.

After reviewing Dicharry I concluded I need to do a set of flexibility exercises every day, to include at a minimum the "chair of death" (a.k.a. bilateral squat), hamstring stretch (laying on back with one leg straight up is a good one), and kneeling hip flexor stretch. For best results each stretch should be held for 3-5 minutes, so we are looking at about 30 minutes a day. This will take some planning.

Talking about planning, previously I wrote about my plan to blend marathon training with triathlon training. My initial plan incorporated Joe Friel's periodiztion guidelines as presented in his book, The Triathlete's Training Bible. The same "two hard one easy" weekly pattern shows up on my Training Peaks Annual Training Plan, because I was honest about my age and training goals when I created my plan.

My next step was to use the Training Peaks Virtual Coach to help fill in the weekly workouts. It was during this step that I realized how the Virtual Coach puts into effect the recommendations Friel makes concerning easy weeks and testing. Every third week my training volume is reduced to seven hours, and on every one of those weeks the Virtual Coach recommended some kind of test. In the past this puzzled me, because a test has to be done all out, which does not seem restful to me. Now, finally, I got it. Yes, the effort level is high, actually higher than workouts during hard weeks.What makes it "easy" is the short duration. No test is ever perfect, so by doing several of them you can smooth out the irregularities and get a more accurate picture of overall progress.

Friels uses two tests. The first one (LTHR) is just a measure of your lactate threshold as measured by heart rate. This is how we establish our HR zones.

Warm up well. Then run a 30 minute time trial on flat course/track. Punch HR monitor 'lap' button 10 minutes into Time Trial. Average heart rate for last 20 minutes predicts Lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR).

The second (TTT), is based on the LTHR results from the earlier tests but is more focused on all out, maximum performance.

Warm up for about 15 minutes raising heart rate to 10 bpm below Lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR). Then start 1 mile at 9-11 bpm below LTHR. (recover for 400m). 1.5 miles all out. Times? Heart rates?

My twenty week marathon plan includes three LTHR tests, the first tomorrow, and three TTT tests.

The problem I ran into in incorporating these tests into my workout plan is that my plan is based on specific times and distances, based on a reasonable pace. For these tests, that approach is thrown out the window. When you do these tests you should only be looking at your HRM for time and distance. In the case of the LTHR, only time. You are not trying to hit a particular pace or heart rate, you are going as fast as you can for thirty minutes, just by feel alone.  I know the LTHR will take forty-five minutes because I allow fifteen minutes to warm up and the test itself is thirty minutes. What I can't say is how far I will run that day. Estimating the duration of the TTT is even harder, so I made a wild guess of fifty minutes. Again, no idea of distance. Obviously more that 2.5 miles, but how much more?

I finally figured out how to make graphs in Google Docs. No doubt someone with more experience could make something better, but at least I was able to graph my weekly long bike and long run workouts. Nothing reveals the ups and downs in a table of numbers better than a graph.

My first graph plots time. You can clearly see the three week periodization. Did I mention that to hit seven hours without giving up everything during the week I had to drop most easy week Sunday bike rides?  That is why the bike lines goes to zero on those weeks.

I also plotted distance, and here you really see how the bike provides the bulk of the endurance training. See where the blue line goes to zero every third week? That is not really a zero, I just don't know what to but there. It should end up looking like the time chart.
No plan ever gets put into practice without some changes. I know that I may have to make adjustments based on my reaction to this training load -- us old guys need a lot more time to recover than the young grasshoppers -- but I also know that life has a way of getting in the way. To pull this off successfully will need more than good planning. Now where did I put my dice?

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