Saturday, October 25, 2008

Annual Review

About 9 years ago while living in Aberdeen, Scotland I went down to the athletics track for a training session with the local club. The coach on that day said that it would take at least 2 years for me to reach 'race' fitness. With my youthful idealism (ignorance) I didn't really believe him - I thought that 2 to 3 months should be plenty!! On that occasion I didn't keep running long enough to find out who was right. But given my progress over the past 2 years I think that he may have had a point. It's nearly 2 years since I decided to start running regularly again and I'm only now reaching near the level where I want to be...

Since the Great North Run I've been reviewing my training records in the lead up to both the 2007 and 2008 races. Last year was my first year back running so I viewed it primarily as a 'base' year. The focus was just to get out regularly and try to cover the distance comfortably. In all I covered 991miles in 2007. I was injured during the start of that year and this year again I was injured at the start of the year but I had a good base from last year so I tried to introduce some more 'quality' runs into my weekly programme.

This resulted in significant improvements in my times for 5k, 5miles, 10miles and half marathon.

In comparing the 2007 and 2008 training period I've taken a very simplistic approach essentially comparing the number of sessions and weekly mileage. I've plotted the following graphs showing the data for the 39 weeks prior to the GNR i.e January to October. Fairly variable isn't it!!

In 2007 I completed 119 sessions and covered 733 miles in 39 weeks. This year I completed 136 sessions and covered 957 miles during the same period. A 14% increase in the number of sessions but a 30% increase in miles run and almost equal to my total mileage for the entire 2007!!!

Drilling a bit deeper into the data this breaks down as 3.1 runs/week (avg 18.8miles) and 3.5 runs/week (avg 24.5miles/week) for 2007 & 2008 respectively. I was a bit surprised with this stat for 2008 as I had thought that my average mileage would have been in excess of 30miles / week. I was injured at the start of the year so this is probably the reason for the low weekly average.

Now, I don't follow any prescribed programme (maybe I should) but analysing the typical '12-week' period prior to the GNR shows the general trend as I tried to focus on this single event.

Looking at the above numbers it shows that this year I did not get out as much as last year (52 vs 54 sessions) but my mileage was a bit higher (3.4%). The big difference was in the 8 week period before the GNR where my number of sessions, average /and max mileage were certainly better than last year.

I'm not sure what all the above means (probably not too much!!) but I thought I'd record it in my diary anyway. Maybe all I can conclude is that this years training was in general more consistent and more intensive which built on last years solid base. The seemingly random nature of teh data is a bit surprising to me so I think I'll have to be a bit more scientific about my training going forward.

Hopefully that will allow me to continue to build my speed and endurance and take the next steps towards a sub 1:25 (or better) half marathon next autumn. Only time will tell.....

1 comment:

Mike said...

It's certainly good to have that data to review. I'm sure the coach was right, probably 2-3 years to get to a high level of fitness. I'm unfortunately learning the same lesson - no matter how well you design your training schedules, and how hard you work, a lot of the improves are just going to take a lot of time.

You've made great progress in this relatively short period of time (minus the injury time). I'd imagine you can steadily improve for quite a while as well. I'm still betting on you getting close to 1:20 for the 1/2 marathon in the next 18-months!