Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Oh, to be Average

I recently read this blog post by Matt Fitzgerald, a writer on running and triathlon training.  He talks about the "running index" function on Polar heart rate monitors.  Basically, the monitor takes some basic information, such as your heart rate and running pace and puts it together to get a number, and this number can be used to compare your run against other runs that you have done, or even against other people.  The index is somewhat correlated to VO2max so it can track fitness over time and also can be used to predict performances at various distances similar to Jack Daniels VDOT pace tables. I have a Polar device and noticed the number, but up to this point I hadn't paid any attention to it.   After reading the article, I wondered what my numbers were.

This is a chart of my running index numbers since January first.  You can see that they slowly moved up to a 50 on 1/31/09.  It was pretty consistent too, except for the poor run on 1/18/09 where I got a 32.  That run was a trail run on an unfamiliar trail and I did a little bushwhacking, so it is to be expected that the run wasn't very good.  You can also see that there is a big gap after 1/31 where I missed quite a few runs, and now my score is back down again.  I can feel the fitness lost and here you can see it one the chart.  Actually its pretty amazing.  This running index thing might be more interesting than I originally thought.

In the user manual for my Polar device there is a chart that rates he running index number.  50 is in the "average" range.  Wow, I have a hard time believing that I could be average at running.  I think that is pretty incredible in itself.  To think that I could be average at my worst sport.  It also estimates a 4hr marathon time for someone who can average a 50 running index over time.  That just happens to be my stretch goal for the San Francisco marathon, so that is great news.  I just have to work on getting the running index number right back up there.

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