Sunday, September 14, 2014

The lab rats

The AIS has been conducting some research looking at the combined effects of sleeping at altitude and training in the heat. Two good friends who are both more youthful and athletic than me (and therefore eligible to be part of the study) became 'lab rats' for 3 weeks as they participated in this study. The general gist is they stayed in a low oxygen house for at least 9 hours per day (essentially sleep and meal times) and had treadmill training sessions in the heat. Other than that, they were told to maintain their normal training. It made sense that 1 week after completing the study they would see a big increase in performance (more blood volume). Sure enough, we got to witness this at Gungahlin parkrun on Saturday. Lou ran an all time 5k PB 18:57 (age grade 78.28%) and Stu ran his best parkrun time 16:51 (age grade (85.46%). The results from the study are still being analysed. For both Lou and Stu, they lost body fat despite eating well (not that Stu ever had much to lose!), so no doubt the weight change was also an assisting factor in their performance. They are both lining up on 27 September for the Centenary 101 teams challenge, combining with Elizabeth (another lab rat) and DaveO (a freak of nature) to take on Vince Puffy, Jackie F, Vanessa H and Tom Brazier. Can the lab rats hold their form and win the event? It's going to be a great contest, one not to be missed!
Speedy lab rats
Back in the real world with normal oxygen and cool conditions, I'm still plodding away running 3 sessions a week, as well as doing a bit of cycling. I still can't convince the muscles to run much distance and so I continue to chip away with short sharp sessions of running interspersed with easy cycling. It is far from an ideal running training programme, but at least there is some subtle improvement. Inspired by the lab rats, I managed a Gunners parkrun PB. There is still some work to do to catch my Gindy PB, but at least the time is heading in the right direction.

Friends parkrun results

1          Stuart DOYLE*           16:51              VM45-49        85.46 %        
3          Louise SHARP*          18:57              SW30-34        78.28 %        
4          Bede WEBSTER         19:08              VM50-54        77.09 %
27       Janene KINGSTON     23:06              VW50-54       72.58 %
82       Skye FRUEAN             32:53              SW30-34        45.21 %        


Thursday, September 4, 2014

If only the Garmin was right!

The new Garmins on the market have some neat features for the technically driven runner. These include information about running cadence, ground contact time and body movement. They are also programmed to calculate a VO2max estimate and use this to predict potential race times. Given where I am these days, I sure wish what my Garmin has been telling me was true. It currently has my VO2max at 48 ml/kg/min and as a W50, this ranks me in the 'superior' range. Not only that, it presently predicts I could run a sub 22 min 5K. Last week is was predicting a sub 23 min 5K, but my effort at parkrun did not get even close. The VO2max estimate is an algorithm from Firstbeat technologies. I've found that the value drops after a tough session and then increases after an easier session.
Running 'metrics' from an intervals session
They say that fast runners have high cadence and less ground contact time. So is it the chicken or the egg? My cadence is quicker and I spend less time on the ground when I'm running faster. I'm guessing most people would find the same thing, when comparing slower paces to quicker paces. Question is, could a slow runner get faster by simply changing the way they run? Maybe yes and maybe no, it would be an individual thing. But hey, it's lots of fun looking at all the graphs and numbers. I wonder when that race time predictor will get it right? Time will tell ;-).