Thursday, September 18, 2008

Race Record

The excel sheet I use to track my training progress has been mentioned before on here. It's a handy little gadget that has stopped me from using the trusty notepad and pen method that had worked for years. I kind of miss the notepad and pen method as at any stage I can open up one of the notepads and see where I was this week last year in terms of training. I then feel a sense of satisfaction that last year I was taking days off left, right and centre for no good reason at all. Next year though I won't be able to do it at a glance. I'll have to be on my computer and open an excel sheet and scroll through a list of dates. Not as easy, but I'll survive. The sense of satisfaction mightn't be there however as I don't miss days that aren't scheduled, my long runs of 15 miles are 15 miles and I do them every week without fail (race weekends are the exception to this).

There are things that my excel sheet does that my notepad didn't. It keeps track of how many miles I've run in a given pair of runners, making it easier for me to know when to change them. With the notepad I only had one pair of training shoes and a pair of race shoes. Every few months I'd start adding up the miles I'd done and once I was around the 400 mark I knew it was time to order a new pair. Living in France, where shoes in large sizes do not exist, a pair of size 12 UK would have to be ordered in my local running store. This could take a few weeks, which at times led me having to eventually just buy whatever they had in stock in my size. The incident where I got lumped with Brook Beasts has probably put me off ever buying Brooks shoes again. It was like trying to run with weights attached to my feet. These days however I have a few pairs of training shoes on the go, which I swap about every other day. Where my legs may not get a rest the day after a long run, my shoes do. The fact that the excel sheet keeps track of what I'm wearing when and the total miles run in them is a god send. I can't imagine trying to store that in my notepad and keeping totals every week of what I ran in what shoe. I can, at a glance, see that my old Nimbus are coming to the end of their life with 430 miles on them, the Kayano have 280 and the new nimbus have a mere 80 miles on them.

The second feature that I'm a fan of is the race record. Pretty simple stuff to start with, you enter the distance and the time and it will tell you your average mile pace. I know many watches tell you that and what you had for breakfast on the morning of a run but that's not what I really like about it. It calculates this Prairie Inn Harriers Island series points (PIH). These points allow you to compare race performances where the distance is different. For each race you'll get a score up to 1000 depending on the distance and time. 1,000 points being the level for elite athletes. I tend to be in or around the 750 mark on most races.

For a year now my best race by PIH points has been a 6.6km race in France. They love their odd distances there - I did a fair few races that were 10.5km, 6.9km, 12km and 6km. The good old 10k, 5k and 8k races were few and far between but there was always a race of some distance on when you wanted one. In that race I scored 797 PIH points. This year I failed to get above 780 points. I think my second best score to that 797 is 779. My pace averaged 5:24 min/mile in that 6.6km race, a pace I haven't come close to equaling. My 5km pace from this year peaked at 5:30 min/mile. Someone suggested to me that maybe the distance was shorter than the 6.6km which I thought could explain it but that wasn't the case. I remember the race as the last race I wore my Garmin for. As my watch beeped at me to say I'd gone through 1 mile I looked down at it and it said 4:55, mile two was slightly slower, but still a fast 5:10. I can't remember the other splits for the next two miles, probably because I was dying and just trying to keep going. I know I slowed in the third before finishing strong in the forth. The first two I remember because as I glanced down I thought "fuck, that's fast" and "fuck, it's still going fast". Them initial times I remember plus the race great conditions and the perfectly flat tarmac course indicate that the distance and the time I set are both correct.

The reason why I'm waffling on about this PIH thing is because as I was racing the last 10km race I had said to myself that this was the best race I'd ever run. But how did it compare to the 797 points I got on the 6.6km race? 801 points, the new leader on my excel sheet! Wahey! It's now the standard that all races will be compared against.

This 5km race I'm preparing for will be the one where I expect to see that 5:24 min/mile pace for 5km broken. If I can run 5:32 for 10km, sub 5:20 for 5km must be possible. I was talking to some people who've raced the 5km race about it this week. The opinion is that it's a really fast course but the last stretch is deceptively long. A lot of people blow up early on it for some reason. Maybe this is because you do one complete lap and then head off to the finish and a lot of people push themselves coming to the end of the lap, not realising there's still a bit further to go there after. One thing's for sure though, there'll be plenty of people to work off in the race. It's still a bit away yet, four speed work sessions and two long runs to be precise.
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