I think most of us reflect on what we have achieved in the past year. For me, it’s been a mixed year with regards to exercise. I did my first sprint and Olympic distance triathlons. I completed my first marathon for 16 years (I only ran one before) – in just under 4 hours.
But I didn’t get my sub 20 minute 5K time. Close at 20:38. And my cycling went to pieces with the focus on running.
Just recently I spent some time looking at my run data on Crickles. Taking a few of the runs I plotted out the relationship between heart rate, speed and gradient. It’s a bit messy (although I have some ideas to tidy that), but the curve/surface is quite interesting. I plotted the curves initially to help statistically create a normal range for my running conditions, with a longer term view to help track abnormal heart rates for a given situation.
I then limited the curve to gradients of +/- 2 degrees gradient initially. And I was struck by what it showed, but not entirely surprised.
As I start to run my heart rate speeds up. No great insights there. There is then a plateau until just over 11Km/h. That fits with what I experience. I know from my Garmin that up to 11-11.5Km/h I can sustain. It’s comfortable. My legs wear out first.
Go too much above that speed and everything becomes harder. That is my lactate threshold for running. That’s where the pain starts and I have to breathe harder to clear the carbon dioxide generated by lactic acid in the muscles from my system. They have to work anaerobically at these sorts of speeds.
The curve kicks up again just over 14Km/h. That’s the respiratory compensation point. Beyond that I can’t clear the lactic acid from my system by breathing and I am on borrowed time.
And that is why I can’t do a 5K in under 20 minutes yet. Sometimes you hit psychological blocks as a runner. I have watched my son streak away in the last few months having joined a running club. He was stuck, probably because of his brain, but his heart rate data suggested he could run much faster. And they unlocked that speed in him. But I am stuck by physiology at the moment.
So, I’ll be sprinting and running up hills in the new year. And working on some algorithms to track my progress. My Garmin says I can do sub 20. I know I can’t. Yet.
Have a great Xmas. And good luck for 2018.
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