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I spend a lot of time looking at my training stats. Probably too much. Probably more than I spend running.
Whilst it is surely good to learn from the lessons of the recent past (your last session) it can’t be good to obsess over it can it? I mean when I do intervals I use the map view in SportTracks and the interval splits to look at every interval of effort and where I did it. Normally I didn’t quite pull my weight on the uphill bits and did better than I should on the bits nearer to home with the end in sight. Commonsense really. Still it feels good doing it for some mathematician-in-me reason.
On a basic level I normally try to have a purpose for every session. A purpose that moves my running forwards. Normally that will be to either:
1. Increase my endurance; or
2. Increase my speed. (More rocket science!)
With the endurance bit it is no good just running for a long time. So my strategy will be to achieve either a distance or time related goal mostly with my heart rate at the top of my aerobic zone, or a tad lower. Now for an hour or an hour and a half run you can’t watch your HRM device all the time. So I would suggest it really is useful to do some post-session analysis to see how much of my training really was in THE zone.
I’ve finally converted my brain to metric (it is easier). So my speed work relies on a pace per kilometer. I do intervals of varying lengths; 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes or 1k or even the non-metric 1 mile. On all those intervals I have a pretty good idea what my pace should be. the shorter the interval the lower the pace figure (ie the higher the speed). All my intervals I run at a speed higher than the equivalent for my 5k PB…always. I normally manage to do that unless there are hills or wind or traffic involved Again a quick look on SportTracks when I’ve finished should be enough, but I seem to spend half an hour on it. What on earth do I do? I don’t even compare exercises from the past that much!
When I do races (eg Parkruns) or routes then I also look at the bits where I have not performed as well as I should do.
So I guess that all seems fairly sensible. But then I have no formal feedback loop into my future training. So sometimes my intervals are not as strenuous as they should be.
I’m also getting to the point where, after 3 years of training quite hard (maybe a little more) then I have definitely plateaued. So I should be looking a little more at technique, amongst many other things. Can my stats help me with that in any way? Well unfortunately not. I have a Garmin 305 (which is good) but what I would really like is the footpod to analyze my cadence and stride length but at £50 plus it seems a little too extravagant and I think when you use it the HR Strap no longer connects (could be wrong ont that). And when I get on my bike I do have a pedalling cadence but no power measurement to check if I apply power evenly on both sides and also if I can alter my gear/cadence to a more optimal power output. So it’s great to have stats but you have to have all the kit that collects the stats you need for the level of training you are at. You also have to have a little too much time on your hands to sit down and analyze the stuff and incorporate back into your training.