Tag: Pacing

Running with Power: A Crash Course

I’ve been running with a power meter for several months now. My first impressions were great, but I never went “all in” on training with it… until now.

It’s “off season” which means taking a break from the normal  structure of training, but not from exercise all together. I did take a bit of a break, but a Thanksgiving day Half Marathon is calling my name! For 6 weeks I thought it would be a good idea to train with running power alone and not even look at pace on my training runs. I’ll let you know how it goes after Thanksgiving, but for now, let’s get a bit of a crash course on training with running power.

1. Running Power is not measured same as Cycling Power

This is the first thing you need to understand. Cycling power is now a very mature technology. Almost all power meters for cycling measure direct force (the amount of force you are directly putting into the pedals/crank/rear hub). A Running power meter, however, is a different animal. Most running power meters measure movement or force in a 3 dimensional plane. In other words, not all of your running power is used to propel yourself forward. Side-to-side, up-and-down, and forward motion all add to running power.

This can help us see that as our pace goes down but we go up a hill, there is less forward progress, but we can still measure our work consistently (see next point).  It also tells us that as we bounce or wobble we are using power but not going any faster (see third point!)

2. Running with Power keeps your effort consistent

Many times we get a workout that prescribes running at X pace for X minutes. That is great, but what about going over a hill? What if the course we are running is rolling? Our effort going up the hill will need to increase to keep the same pace, and it will decrease when we are going down the other side. Multiply that by numerous hills on course and you many be spending half the prescribed amount of time in the prescribed zone.

Running power can help us stay on track when we are going over hills. Slow down going up and speed up going down. Too many people slow down running down hill and that only is wasting energy, fighting gravity, and trashing your quads!

3. Running with Power puts more emphasis on form

Form is so vitally important. The goal of a triathlon is not to get from point A to point B as fast as possible. It is to get from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. Efficiency not only makes you faster, but it also helps you go further, faster. As a race progresses, running form usually goes out the window. This is true in straight running races too!

My first run with a power meter opened my eyes to this more than ever before! The longer the run was, the slower I got and the more watts I was putting out. Both bad things!

One workout I found online was a form run where you hold a set wattage and try to up the pace through weeks in form. Something you couldn’t quantitatively measure before without a power meter!

So that is a simple explanation of running with power. A crash course if you will. Obviously pace and great rate are still very important metrics, and running power is still in it’s infancy, but it is a game changer for sure! I’ll be running solely off power until Thanksgiving, and I’ll pace my Half Marathon solely on power. Stay tuned for the results and my thoughts along the way!

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70.3 Race Plan

For many people, the Half Iron distance is the first big step into the long distance triathlon world. It makes sense. 70.3 is a whole lot shorter than 140.6. Most people can only handle one Ironman in a year, and the jump from Olympic to Half Iron isn’t as insurmountable as the jump up to Full Iron. The biggest hurdle comes in the form of planning. Pacing, nutrition, gear… it all changes in the jump to long course! Continue reading

Running Power Meters… First Impression

Being on the bleeding edge is exciting. But you can also get cut deep (hints the “bleeding” part). Power meters were once bleeding edge technology, but today they are common sights. Ask experienced cyclist or triathlete the best upgrade they can make, and they will (should) tell you to get a power meter (If you don’t already have one). But running power meters? That’s bleeding edge!

There really are only a few names in the game right now as it comes to running power meters. The big name is Stryd, now on their second gen unit. The other is RPM2. A few others are out there, but they are more fringe and aren’t specifically power meters like Lumo run and SHFT. The biggest question hanging over running power meters is, are they worth it? Continue reading

Cary Du Classic- USAT Long Course Duathlon National Championships 2017- Race Report

My first “A” race of the season is now complete! There is nothing quite like the feeling you get after a solid block of training, a perfect taper, and stepping up to the start line with great form. I’m pleased to say I was able to do that this year at the Cary Du Classic!

This race has been on my schedule for the last 3 years in a row. The last 2 years it has been the host of the USAT Long Course Du National Champs. Each year the race itself has gotten better, and each year I have improved on my previous year’s performance.

However, this year’s course was significantly altered from the previous years, Continue reading

A Good Race Always Starts with a Good Plan- Part 2

It’s race week here at Triathlonpal HQ, so I am in full taper and race mode! I’m getting ready to race again at the Cary Du Classic which agian is the host for USAT’s Long Course Duathlon Nationals.

I’ve written before about the Art of a Taper for the week(s) leading up to your race, and I’ve even written about the advantage of detailed planning for the bike leg with Best Bike Split. But this week I’m honing in on my total race plan. Yesterday I sat down and write out every detail I could think of for the week leading up to race day, and then race day itself.

Why?

Because I’m a total “Type A” triathlete and OCD about most things.

Why should I?

The less you have to think about on race week and especially race day, the better. Also, the longer the race ad the further you travel for it, the more this gets magnified!

Continue reading

3 Things to do for a “B” Race

We are all too familiar with our “A” race of the season. Be it that first Ironman, the National Championships, or even Worlds. for some, their “A” race may just be that first Tri, or that local race everyone loves. Whatever it is for you, it’s the big priority of the season. A person can only have a few of these each year. I would even put the number at a max of 2. But some of us want to race more than that. That is where “B” and “C” races come into play. They are the lower priority races you do just for experience or for fun.

“C” races are treated like a workout… nothin special… just go out and race and have fun while getting some good training. But what about “B” races? You don’t want to taper for them… but they are a little more important than your local sprint done on a whim that weekend. Here are 3 things you can do for that upcoming “B” race! Continue reading

Turkey Trot: Thanksgiving Day= Race Day!

The day we’ve been looking forward to has finally come! Yes, Thanksgiving day! And what does that mean? Yes, turkey… stuffing… football… but more importantly, RACE DAY! That early morning Turkey Trot is calling your name! Here’s how to make the most of the day you’ve been training for.

Continue reading

OBX Triathlon Race Report

The only thing better than racing… is a destination race!

For my last race of the season I decided to take a swing at the Outer Banks Triathlon. I grew up going to the Outer Banks every summer so this was the perfect opportunity to take my family along on a short vacation and get some racing in too!

Continue reading

Hagan-Stone Park Du

This weekend was my first race of the season, the Hagan-Stone Park Duathlon hosted by Trivium Racing. This race was a part of the Triad Duathlon Series as well as the USAT Mid Atlantic Region Duathlon Series. Trivium always does a great job with their events, so I was excited to be able to notch this one off with them.

Pre-Race

I got to the race early so that I could pick up my packet and get all settled in. I was also a little concerned about parking from looking at the maps, but that turned out to be no problem whatsoever. There was a nice little grassy area right by transition and another paved parking lot by the playgrounds about 250yds down the road. I opted for the playground lots since I know my wife and daughter would be spending some time there while daddy was out on the course.

Getting everything set up in transition was easy. Duathlons generally have simple transition areas since it is simply two entrance/exits with the elimination of the swim leg. I try to grab one close to the Bike in/out so there is less running with the bike. I’ll even go further in from the aisle to grab a rack near the bike in/out.

I got set up and did a bit of exploring/ course preview since this was a new race for me. It was a 5K trail run that started in a different area from transition so I was curious as to how that worked out. It turns out that the start/ finish line was just around the corner behind a little grove of trees, so it was easily accessible and not really that far from transition. I also discovered that the trail was almost entirely woodchips. We were told there were a few muddy spots the day before so park maintenance went ahead and laid wood chips the entire 3.1 miles. Kudos on them for the extra effort to make this a great race, although I would have prefered a more hard packed surface and simply wood chips over the soft spots (you’ll see why later).

I rode back to the car and got the trainer out and did a short bike warm up. This was my first time bringing the trainer along and I think that was a great plus. It added a bit more structure to my warm up since I didn’t have to find a place to ride on the course and then IMG-20160312-WA0015have to ride back, not to mention the issue of doing high intensity intervals in traffic. As I finished, my cheering section drove up and started the day at the race 🙂 I’m always happy to have my family at the races with me.

When I got back to transition someone had racked their bike over top of my shoes and bag, so I had to move over a slot. Not a big deal, but kind of annoying. I saw the port-o-potty line was gone so I emptied the tank and then went out and ran along the first .5mi or so on the course and got loose, and then we had the obligatory pre-race meeting. The group of 75 racers plus spectators made the short walk to the start line. After a short delay, we were on our way!

First Run
FB_IMG_1457914882092Pacing on the first run is always an issue for me so I knew I needed to watch it from the start. I also knew from my warm up that GPS reception was spotty on the trail, so every time I looked at my watch I had to judge whether that was accurate or not based on how I felt. I didn’t get too caught up in the beginning sprint this time, so that

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You can see me in the background with the guys I was pacing with.

was a plus, but I stayed with the front group fairly well. The pack thinned out by mile 1 and we were forming various pace groups. I was holding pace pretty well with two guys in front of me.
They were only slightly pulling ahead of me so by the end of the run they were about 15-20 seconds ahead. I ended up running a bit faster than I wanted. I set a conservative goal of 26:00 but ran 24:38.8.

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Coming into T1

T1

T1 went great as usual. The transition area was set up so that my wife and daughter could see me the whole way. That was cool to have them right on the other side of the fence cheering me on. I was in and out in :20 flat! One of my best transitions I think! I passed the other guys ahead of me and headed out on the course

Bike

As I was exiting the park I had a bit of trouble getting my shoes on. A guy sped on up behind me and yelled at me for swerving a bit… but at that point I had finished getting my shoes on and really started pedaling again. He ever passed me and I never saw him again.

Hagan-Stone Du BikeOnce I got out of the park it was immediately uphill. I went a bit hard up the hill (over 500w), and on the whole first lap really, but I felt great. The main point of discussion on this two lap course was the lack of discipline by other riders. I saw one lady racer with a male companion riding with her. I wasn’t a racing, but as I passed them he was riding the

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Spectator riding side by side with a racer

course with her side by side. It was a bit irritating to pass since they were two wide and it is an open course so there were cars passing too. I saw him at the start and finish lines with his bike so he was just a spectator who went for a ride with the racers on the course.

The other irritant for me was since it was rolling hills, almost every uphill came right after a down hill. There was another racer who would speed past me with his momentum from pounding the down hill, but couldn’t maintain his momentum up the rest of the hill, so he would slow down a ton, leaving me with the option of either braking to get out of his draft, or increasing my power to get past him. I opted for the latter.

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Again, our little group. I’m just around the corner off the back.

This is why my NP for the bike leg for 215w… giving me a IF of
1.02 for the race. Not a big deal since it was a short 16mi ride. In a longer race it would have been worse, but I was able to power through and I don’t think it affected me much in the end. I finished with 47:58.3 on the bike, so about 50s faster than BestBikeSplit predicted. I give that up to my higher than planned Normalized Power.

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Not much to say here. The two guy I had been hanging with on the bike made it into transition a bit before me, but all that time was made up in transition. I was feeling a bit of cramping at the end of the bike so I grabbed my extra bottle and was out running step for step with the other guys.

Second Run

Second run was paced a bit better than the first. I help it right around 8:30 most of the run. The first mile or so was quite the struggle getting my legs moving again. I also was fighting back some cramps in the calfs but they went away during that first mile. Our little group of three broke up pretty quick with one guy pulling ahead of me and the other taking a break to adjust his shoe about 500yds into the run. We held those positions the rest of the run and I was thankful I was able to keep my pace steady the rest of the way in. I got a bit of a hamstring cramp right near the finish line but I pushed through and finished in 26:27 giving me an 8:34 pace.FB_IMG_1457913850268

Final Thoughts

To wrap it up I feel like I had a great day on the course. I finished 20th overall and 4th in my age group. Since I aged up this year to the 25-29AG I am happy with that result. My final time of 1:39:51.7 was just 15.7s off the podium! Being that close always makes you wonder “what if?” But I know I left it all out there physically and since this was really just a dust off race I couldn’t have expected more.

I was really pleased with how well Trivium Racing did with this event and I will most definitely be back next year. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season too! I’m on track with my training I think… Next stop… Nationals!

LTHR (Lactate Heart Rate) Test

As I am ending the last major block of training before my final taper and race of the season, I am naturally performing a few test workouts to check improvement over last few weeks, as well as determine my race strategy come race day. I mentioned earlier that my bike FTP (Functional Threshold Power) had increased 4.5%, but I wanted to take this post to explain what exactly that means, and how I arrived at the results. First up, a few definitions.

DEFINITIONS

  • Lactate Threshold- The effort level at which lactic acid begins to pool in the muscles because the body is producing it faster than it can clear it from the muscles.
  • FTP: Functional Threshold Power- the amount of power (Measured by a power meter in watts) one can sustain for 1hr. Essentially the lactate threshold for cycling.
  • Threshold Pace– The pace one can sustain for 1hr. Essentially the  lactate threshold for running (and swimming).
  • LTHR: Lactate Heart Rate– The heart rate measurement for lactate threshold. While not as accurate as FTP or Threshold Pace because of other variables (caffeine, heat, hydration, etc), cause be used in place of pace or power if necessary (ie. no power meter, broken power meter, hilly run course, etc.)

So, after that are we all thoroughly confused? Good. Basically, these are all the same… but different. When you run the test I am describing below, you are testing for the effort level that you could sustain if you were going 100% for 1hr and “leave it all on the course.” Now, rarely will you actually go this pace in a multisport event, and in a single sport event you may go over this effort since the event is shorter (ie. a 5k). But once we know this number we can A.) compare tests over a period of time to judge increases in fitness and B.) set race goals based on our current level of fitness. So, how do we get these numbers? I’m glad you asked!

THE WORKOUT

Garmin 310First of all, you need some way to record this information. a GPS watch with heart rate (HR) strap is the most versatile tool to use (Another post coming later about that). The rest of this post is written assuming you have these basic tools. A power meter is another tool for the bike as well.

Start with a good warm-up. I generally do 10 minutes with the first 5 easy to moderate pace and then do a few quick sprints with walk (or easy spin) breaks between . I make sure the last 1:30 is another easy- moderate pace.

At that point the test starts. Hit the “lap” button on your watch and go at a pace that is hard, but that you think you can hold for 30 minutes. The more of these you do, the better your pacing will be. after 10 minutes, hit the “lap” button again but continue at the same pace. The effort should stay steady over the whole 30 minutes and you should feel drained at the end.

After 30 minutes, hit “lap” one more time and start your cool down. Generally I either walk or spin easy for about 5 minutes.

INTERPRETING THE RESULTS

Now, what are the results? Your threshold pace or FTP (depending on the sport) is the average pace or power from the entire 30 minutes. Your LTHR is your heart rate from ONLY THE LAST 20 MINUTES. This is because it takes some time for your heart rate to catch up and truly indicate your effort level. It also may be that you went out too hard and your heart rate may have spiked at the beginning and later stabilized.

Now, what do you do with these numbers? Well, you can set your training zones for the next block of training (there are multiple schools of thought on this, so I won’t get into them here) and you can also determine your race plan as mentioned before. Most importantly, you can compare results over time and see all the great improvement your training has developed!

With that… It’s about time for me to head out and test my run LTHR and Pace!

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