Thursday, January 3, 2013

The 2013 experiment (case study)

And just like that it's 2013! What happened to 2012, it feels like it's still March? Oh well, that's what happens as you get older, time just passes you by! Why not start this year off with a little experiment I ask myself? What kind of experiment and will it meet the requirements of the human ethics committee you may ask? It won't have good statistical power when there is only an n = 1 sample size. Fortunately, one can always resort to a case study. I'm going to study myself and see if my response to training tracks that described in the sports literature. I've been injured and out of it for a while, so I have an opportunity to track rate of progress from close to rock bottom. Indeed my recent improvement at Parkrun (65 sec faster than my first run 2 weeks earlier) does show some textbook behaviour.  One may expect to see a response to training 8-10 days after a suitable stimulus.  While it would be awesome to be able to knock 65 seconds off your 5 km time every 2 weeks, a more likely rate of progression would be ~30 seconds every 4 weeks based on data presented in "Daniel's running formula". At some point a plateau will be reached and a stronger training stimulus will be required. Hence the 2013 case study, let's see how long it takes me to hit a plateau and what, if anything can be done to shift the plateau. Of course, this is all contingent on keeping my training intolerance at bay. That said, so far the intermediate training programme is going well (into its 4th week) and the muscles appear to be happy and responsive.

Happy New Year - 2013!
Training programme summary (weeks 1 - 8):
Run 5 days per week (most in the 40-50 min range):
1 x long E run
1 x long intervals (threshold pace - comfortably hard)
1x hills or shortish intervals (a tad harder then threshold pace or effort)
2 x (30 min E + 6 x 20 sec strides) or x 1 + tempo/test run such as Parkrun or track event (no more frequent than every 2 weeks).
Running paces based on VDOT from test runs.
3 gym sessions per week.


  1. I have Daniels' Running Formula - is that rate of progression data on any particular page?

    Interesting experiment. The big thing will be to keep the muscles happy and responsive, so... are you going to keep repeating that programme above? That wouldn't be a bad thing - just gradually adjust VDOT paces as you improve.

    Yes, time passes quickly as we age. Seems like only yesterday you arrived in Canberra. And only a few weeks ago I was an M30 ;-)

    1. Gee ET, I did just arrive in Canberra didn't I?

      The programme will mostly be along the lines of the 8 weeks outlined. However, interval length and pace will change as fitness improves. Plus I'll try and incorporate more strides sessions, they are really good for running form. But yes, it will be important to keep the muscles happy AND the hot weather may result in some missed sessions!

      In DRF Table 3.1 (pg 48) shows how much your time will be for each single digit improvement in VDOT. DRF also suggests that improvement can be expected to be about a 1 digit change in VDOT every 4 - 6 weeks. That gives a rate of progression of about 30 sec over 5km every 4 weeks for VDOT in high 30s - mid 40s. The rate then slows a bit the higher the VDOT gets. It is a generalisation, hence this will be a nice experiment to see if indeed that is about the rate of change.

      Oh to be a W30 again..... ;-)

    2. Interesting. VDOT improvement should go like that for you. I've been on a 12-month plateau, so a 1 point improvement would be great. Guess I'm 44 now, so just need 46 for M50 PBs! Get out early (or late) on these hot weather days!

    3. Thanks ET. Now that you have completed your running streak, now seems like a good time to try some smart training like jog suggested in your blog. Maybe that 12 month plateau is simply a reflection of the running streak. Change your focus and those M50 PBs could well be yours :-).

    4. Yes, excellent timing. The ordinary first half of our track season was a reflection of the last 3 months of the streak and six months of working too many 10-hour days.

  2. I didn't understand a word of your reply. But then I haven't been injured or out of running action to have to fix the problem. Good luck with the recovery, I hope this works for you.

    1. Thanks TF, all a bit of fun if nothing else.