Friday, July 29, 2011

Data and the pace calculator

A little Pikes rehearsal this AM - approximately 3 miles from the start to the top of the W's.  Running waterless from my place, I simply tried to put in an effort equal to the first half hour of the Ascent.  (I note this because some folks run this "tempo" all-out, much faster than they will run it on race day)  Splits:

to Ruxton - 3:08
to Hydro - 10:03
to Barr Trail - 16:40
to "bigass rock" - 27:40
to top of W's - 33:23

The good ol' pace calculator suggests that today was not how I want to run on Pikes weekend.  A 10:03 Hydro split done properly is good for a 2:39:30, whereas a 33:23 W's split is pace befitting of a 2:46:00.  Furthermore, the 23:20 between Hydro and W's is what a well-paced 2:49 would run.

At this point, half of you already have figured out what this means, and the other half could care less.  There is a large contingent of 'naked' runners - those who believe that the Garmin is the devil.  They have no need for watches or data; they just run.  They go by feel.  They believe there is no need for all this high-tech gadgetry, that it just means you're taking yourself too seriously or missing the whole point of running.

To the Garmin-haters:  point taken, but let's agree to disagree.  I'll dedicate a whole post to ya'll soon.  Till then, brush up on your graph-reading skillz.

In the meantime, I took this away from today.  I was kind of disheartened by my slowdown on the W's.  I most definitely didn't feel like my effort was spiked to Ruxton or anything, but I definitely don't want to push the W's as hard as I did today.  If my effort was greater than what I'd like to feel on raceday and my time was slower, I can come up with a few possible reasons.

  1. Possibly I'm just not in the shape I have been in previously.  Doubtful, as my previous race results suggest otherwise.
  2. I could've been running on legs that were more fatigued than I expected.  Possible - I ran Elk Park 48 hours ago and yesterdays easy run felt like death on a stick.  Would that be consistent with a 2:39 pace to Hydro and 2:49 beyond?  Possibly, as the fatigue may be less pronounced on flatter terrain.
  3. The calculator could be flawed.  I hate to say it, but I find that doubtful.  The Ruxton split is always in question, but I trust the Hydro and W splits.  As one who has not had recent success above timberline, I most definitely am trying to respect the clock down low.

I will get a couple more opportunities to run this same drill in the upcoming weeks.  Optimally, a 2:40 pace will be easy next time out.  If not, I have no problem adjusting my goal to a pace that does feel manageable for the full 13 miles.


  1. I love this stuff.

    I have questioned the calculator (most definitely the Ruxton split) but I agree with you about the Ws needing to be managed carefully.

    For what it is worth, I am not sure that I call this a flaw of the calculator but it is an ... attribute. I think the calculator "assumes" somethings about the ability to perform over the course of the run. And frankly I think those assumptions might be a bit aggressive. I bet most folks don't do the long enough training or training at altitude to "keep the splits" as they are listed. As a result, I bet you see a lot of folks that are on, oh say 3 hour pace down low, but then end up at 3:20. They end up with that I think in that the pace-effort is fine for that lower stretch - they are just not prepared for those last 3 miles where they already have 5k of elevation and 2 plus hours in their legs.

    Which I guess you could say they went out too fast, but I think it is a little different.

  2. I can't tell you how many times I have run up Pikes, got to A-Frame and beyond, mumbling to myself "the pace calculator is BULL SHIT!!!" over and over....

  3. And absolutely the effort a couple of days had something to do with it.

  4. Crap - I meant ahead of it. You certainly would not do that a couple of days before the race.