What progress looks like

Of all the supposedly “essential” running equipment I use, there are two tools that I couldn’t do without: Sporttracks software and my Garmin GPS watch. Using the two in combination, I’m not only able to see my progress from day to day, but also from month to month, season to season, and — perhaps most dramatically — year to year.

Take a look at this chart. It shows three pieces of data: Average pace, average heart rate (% of max) and average length of run.

What a difference a couple of years (and a few thousand miles) makes. (Click to enlarge.)

What a difference a couple of years (and a few thousand miles) makes. (Click to enlarge.)

Notice how the average pace and the average heart rate have dropped as the average distance has increased? Funny that.

19 Responses

  1. I’m jealous. I used to have data like this then . . . 1) my Garmin got outdated; 2) my computer crashed and 3) is topped running so much.

    I AM impressed.

  2. Dramatic. You’ll need a bigger chart.

    Wish we had Garmins, HRMs and computers back in 1980 – I’d have a nice U-shaped chart!

  3. Wonderful progress! Congratulations on such a dramatic difference. Question: any reason why you use HR Max instead of HRR?

    • Two reasons: I’m too lazy to actually learn what the difference is; I don’t think the Garmin does HRR.

      • The only difference is that it takes into account your resting HR, so it’s more accurate. SportsTracks does it automatically using the resting you enter in the Athlete profile, then on the settings page under Analysis, you set the “show HR percentage as” dropdown to %. No biggie, though, just wondered.

      • Also, this also explains the disparity between our HR data for similar runs/races…we’re working off different scales.

  4. Thats good news and a great progress..
    About one week and you let se your progress on the marathon!.
    Are you nervous about next sunday……I think a bit!.
    Rinus.

  5. I can’t wait to see how the race goes … and I’m hoping for more anxiety-ridden over-analysis via blog until then.

  6. Arrrgggggg, sorry Jullie and how can i forget!!!!!.
    I think because i am a bit nervous about the race from Paris to Rotterdam next weekend!.
    But i hope you have a good feeling on next sunday, and i think you have,
    Friday i go to Paris in France and on saterday the “ROPArun” start and end on Monday in Holland!!.
    So my congratulation fot your PR on the marathon is a bit later!!.
    Have a nice weekend and take a rest.
    Rinus.

    • I can’t even remember my own race schedule, so I don’t expect anyone else to remember it, Rinus. That sounds like a great run — I have yet to run something that’s taken me through multiple countries. Good luck next weekend!

  7. Flo, I don’t think it makes a huge difference whether % of max or % of HRR is used. Racing HR is going to be a % of maximum when rested anyway, so training HRs can be based on that too.

    Resting HR once an athlete is fit doesn’t vary that much (apart from due to sickness or overtraining) so it’s simpler – for example, if you run tempo runs at 82% of max, then you can directly compare your pace for HR for runs on the same courses.

  8. Ewan, you’re right, it totally doesn’t make a difference as far as using whatever method you choose. When comparing two runners though, it’s important to know who’s using what baseline, since, for example, 70% of HRR for me = 77.2% HR Max. Big difference.

    • Yes, this explains a lot. I couldn’t figure out why you weren’t racing faster, given (what I thought were) those max HR values.

      • Lol, and I was all “but I am trying hard, really I am”. Though I’m beginning to wonder if I’m racing hard enough anyway – as the percentages go up, HRR starts matching Max HR better (ex. 90% HRR = 92.2%) so race HRs have less discrepancy between the two.

  9. Yes Flo, good point. Whatever method you chose, it probably makes looking at old diary entries easier if you stick to it.

    When I started running I remember recording distances in miles for a couple of months (even though we were metric) just because the US running magazines were in miles. I’m glad I didn’t stick to that! I still find it very curious how you guys record mile splits for 5 and 10k races.

    It is interesting comparing what other runners record for HRs and paces. Percentages of Max or HRR is a good one, although actual HRs are also revealing. For example, from the blog of Marilyn Arsenault
    http://trainharder.com/blogs/divamar/ who is 41 and has run 35:06 for 10k. On a recent easy run – “Flat 1:15:08 (14.69 km) Avg/Km: 5:09 Avg HR: 118 bpm”; and for long intervals at 10k race effort – about 3:40/km @ 152 HR.

  10. Thanks for the blog link, Ewan, that’s a keeper. HR numbers are pretty useless without knowing the person’s max as well, though. Yes, her HR seems incredibly low, but her max appears to be low too, which would put it in context. Percentages tell the full story.

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