Sunday, March 16, 2008

Another Test

It seems to me that recently life has all been a test. The weather is testing my patience. So far in March we have had two days without either high wind or rain. I think I'd rather have the rain then the wind. The wind topples trees and just makes running a pain. At least you know what you get with the rain. Work has been a test too. As with all teams there are good times when everything seems to be going right. Down times when nothing seems to be happening and just plain bad times where nerves are shattered. We've been on a pretty good run of everything going right, I just think our time was due. Big things aren't going wrong but the nerves are there to make even the smaller things seem gigantic. It's a test of the team for sure. Moving to Germany was let's just say a test. I think it has stretched the love in the family pretty far and it's a really good thing we love each other so much. There isn't one thing there that is any more testy than another it's simply the enormity of the task at hand. But this posting has nothing to do with all those other tests, it's simply another bike test.

The test
I've been struggling with my test protocal recently. My goals for 2008 are fairly loose but the races I've targeted are relatively long. So the testing I've been doing doesn't seem to address the length of the event. The testing has been looking at my top end speed and or efficiency. The events I've signed up for have nothing to do with top end speed and everything to do with efficiency at a controlled heartrate over a long period of time. So I went back to all the different types of testing I've done and then I simply read a number of the Blogs I've got as my favorites. I chose to go back to doing MAF testing. Essentially MAF (promoted by DR. Phil Maffetone and Mark Allen) is Maximum Aerobic Function test. It's a test of how fast you can run/ride/swim etc. at your Maximum Aerobic HR. Dr. Maffetone uses a simple formula that is 180 minus your age and then you subtract if you have been sick or have been on the couch all your life or you add 5 heartbeats if you are a regularly active person. I do think there are flaws because the 5 heartbeat addition is a general number. It doesn't take into account how long you have been active. That's the problem when you don't use a lab. So I use the formula and use my long history of using a Heart Rate Monitor. With this my Max Aerobic HR is 141 and so my testing is all done at 141 or lower. The testing I'm doing is also a mental testing. The maximum a test can last is 1 hour. The test ends when I hit one hour or there is a mental breakdown and I lose concentration. Yesterday on the trainer I lasted 34 minutes. Nothing physical going on there at all but I think all of the testing in the discussion above and the sheer effort it takes to sit on the darn trainer had something to do with it.

Test Time Avg HR Distance Avg. Speed
Bike 34:14 137 9.4 miles 16.5 mph

My expectations on the next test is improvement accross the board. I expect to go the full hour, at a faster average speed. We'll see!

More to come this week as I have a weather permitting MAF run test scheduled.

This is a running theme but I think there is much deeper learning that goes beyond running. At work there is a group run that leaves the gym every day at roughly 12:20. Through the early part of this year the group has grown with numbers and speed of runners. In January you could show up any day of the week, run 50 minutes at a relatively easy pace and call it a day. Recently though as people have gotten in better shape and some of the younger faster guys have joined in and the pace has picked up. In February they began running a loop that is a fairly rolling 16K (10.2 miles) loop. At first it was just a change of pace run, something different. But recently it has become a run for time. Ego has joined in and records are being recorded. The first known record was 58 minutes. That record is now down to 52 minutes. The problem in doing these kinds of runs is that people or egos join in when they shouldn't. We have guys trying to get in shape after a winter off or guys training for an April marathon. It started out to be a fun thing but as the weeks went by people were running it every week and sometimes twice a week. Our two marathon runners training for Boston and London were running much faster on this loop then they will ever run in the Marathon and guess what, they got injured. The guys just getting in shape got injured. The leader of the pack came down with a nasty cold. Essentially the group run fell apart. The other day I was dressed and ready to go and one of the guys in the gym asked "Where are all your running buddies (By the way, I stopped running with the group when all of this nonsense happened)" I said they were either sick or injured. He couldn't stop laughing.

I think the learning here is that it's always good to run or hang around people that are at a higher level than you. In running that simply means faster runners. In life that mean's someone you view as more successful than you. Just make sure you check your ego at each of those encounters. When running you have to know your limits and you can't with your ego push beyond them. Both of the Marathon runners say they didn't feel the injury until it was too late. Both also now admit that they didn't listen to their coach. When you are with those successful people I just think you have a much better chance learning from them if you are humble. As lots of questions and don't over do your welcome. An ego can turn them off faster than anything and they can pick up on it very easily.

It's a good life....
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