Running Empty, But Full of Data

It’s probably easy to get too anal about all the running data I get from my Garmin Forerunner 305, but after a tough run on Sunday I was looking for some answers. As part of the prep for the New York Marathon on November 5th (sponsor me!), I ran the Robin Hood Nottingham Half Marathon. There was no sign of Robin, and definitely no one handing out money to the poor (or even jelly babies to the runners) but there was plenty of sunshine – despite a foggy start to the day, it was 24C at the off and somewhere near 27C by the time I got round. It was easily the toughest run I’ve been through – partly because I wasn’t feeling great, partly because of the heat (although I’ve run in hotter times) but mostly because there were lots of hills and they all felt steep. And so I must not be in the shape that I thought I was in.

The Garmin records distance, elevation and speed. My SportTracks software graphs that better than the Garmin in-house software does (and, I think, better than MotionBased). So here are three graphs in a row, one from the Great North Run (last September, 1h 59m), one from the Liverpool Half (March this year, 1h 45m) and one from Nottingham (yesterday, 1h 46m 50s).

Nottingham felt steep, but I wanted to know if it was as steep as I thought – and how did it affect my running. This first graph shows the elevation and pace for the Great North Run. I started off too fast – that’s what comes of being on the white start line when they sound the klaxon. From there, I get slower throughout the race, independent of the hills (and everyone tells me that the GNR is one of the steeper races) – there’s a brief blip at 14km where I caught someone who nearly fell over as I was running alongside them – and then I get a little quicker near the end as I see the 2 hr time get a little too close on my watch and pick up the pace a bit. I finished in 1h 59 something.

Next up is the Liverpool Half. Here I started somewhere in the pack and so the first few hundred metres are spent dodging people. From then on I ran pretty much consistently, mostly between 4:50/km and 5:10/km. There’s a big hill in the middle – the course takes you down the hill, along a little and then round and back up the same hill. That certainly took something out of me, but the hill was short and steep and it was over with quickly.

Lastly, Sunday’s race at Nottingham. The spread of pace here is from 4:20 to 5:20, with a high degree of volatility. The hills are more frequent, steeper and generally last longer than either Liverpool or the GNR. Half way through I was ready to drop – volatility increases, largely independent of the hills, yet I consciously try and speed up in the last 4 km, trying to get round inside my target time. I was very focused on 1h 40m at the start, and held that time for, at most, a mile. Things got worse from there and I finished in 1h 46m.

In 2 weeks I have the Windsor Half Marathon which is supposed to be moderately bumpy. Between then and now I have another 30km+ run to get done, then a week off after that followed by the Nike 10k. And then it will be a month to go.

So far I’ve run 445km in training. I’m a little ahead versus the run up to London earlier in the year but my times are looking a little slower. Of course, I ran Liverpool and Reading 4 weeks and 2 weeks before the London Marathon, whereas I’m running these 8 weeks and 6 weeks before, respectively.

Lots of variables in every run. Perhaps more on this when I’m through Windsor. Hopefully the Queen will stop by to wish us all well.

One thought on “Running Empty, But Full of Data

Leave a Reply