Friday, April 24, 2009


I thought I would give a little progress report on my my marathon training.  I have been biking and swimming as well, but only as additional time allows.  For the last two months  I have prioritized running, and here is what I have to show for it.


My most significant limiter when it comes to running and so I set out an ambitious goal to lose nearly 35 lbs before the marathon  in July.  I admit that this goal is pretty extreme, and a severe diet is not conducive to retaining your muscle strength, but I tried haphazardly to lose weight over winter and I just wasn't successful.  Now that the pressure of the marathon is here I am hoping that it will provide that extra motivation that I need.  Also, I don't need to worry too much about losing weight too quickly as the higher your body fat percentage the more you can loose without having bad side effects.  I was starting out with a body fat percentage of 29% so I have plenty to lose.  Here is a chart of my progress so far.  The data has been smoothed by taking the rolling three day average.

As you can see, I started out losing a bit faster than expected and I got my hopes up a bit, but things have stabilized and pretty much I am losing weight on track to my goal.  So that is the good news.  I started out at 247.8lbs @29% body fat and was 235.6lbs this morning @26% body fat.  So that means I have lost 10.6 lbs of fat and 1.6lbs of lean tissue.  The small amount of lean lost was a happy surprise as I expected that I would lose more in what has been a pretty extreme diet.


So what effect has this had on my running.  I certainly feel much faster and a very easy pace for me is an 11 minute mile rather than a 12 minute mile, and my tempo pace has gone from 10:30 to 9:50.  I have also notice that my heart rate is generally lower for the type of run.  This has forced me to readjust my perceived effort levels of exactly what hard is.  So I am pushing myself a bit more, and going by pace in my workouts rather than heart rate.  Many times I only look at the heart rate data after the run is over and I am actually surprised that my heart rate was lower than I thought because the run felt hard.  This is all a sign of my threshold pace increasing which is all good.

My goal for San Francisco is to go 4:30.  It still sounds a bit out of reach but there are a few signs that are making this goal more realistic.  First, my training plan proscribes training paces based on "Planned Marathon Pace" and I can finally actually do these paces now where before I could not.  That is the first great sign.  

Second I did some Yasso 800s today and average 4 minutes and 24 seconds for 6 repetitions.  Supposedly if you can hold a pace for 10 repetitions that pace is a reasonable estimate of what you can do in a marathon if you change the minutes to hours.  So basically if I could have held that 4:24 pace for 10 full repetitions that would predict a 4:24 marathon.  I probably couldn't have done 10, but I think I could have done 8, so I am getting there.  

Lastly, I have been tracking my Polar running index.  This index is calculated by my heart rate monitor by comparing my heart rate to my pace.  It is a good predictor of VO2max and also running performance at various distances.  Here is a chart showing the upward trend in my Polar running index.

It appears I am at about 45 right now.  According to Polar that is on the cusp of "Average" and would predict a 4:15 marathon.  That seems much too fast to me, but in any case it is another sign that at least I am going in the right direction.  

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