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Measuring Fitness by using VDOT/HR (Read 1125 times)

    I've been thinking for a while about how to measure my fitness outside of racing and time trials. I wanted to find a more objective measure having to do with my performance in any run in regards to my HR.

     

    I've been tracking my HR for a year now and I've created this graph that shows the relationship between VDOT and my average HR for a run. The idea being that VDOT is supposed to give you a kind of "equivalent" performance metric, and HR is a somewhat objective number with all other conditions aside. Obviously there are some problems with this approach, namely differences in weather, the course, how I'm feeling, etc.

     

    But, if those things are averaged out, I think it shows where I'm at for both easy and hard runs. Curious what you all thought about this, and if something similar to this already exists that makes more sense than what I am doing.

     

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AhJaKJWkjGnLdDBsNktjYldaTHdVMmZTZGZ1NDZNRFE&hl=en_US#gid=5

    2014 Goal: Run faster than 3:37:07 in the NYC Marathon

      I’m guessing that this will produce a lot of neat looking charts and graphs, but probably won’t be any more useful to you as a measure of your fitness than race times are.

       

      And that the differences in weather, course, how you’re feeling are probably statistically significant enough to make the whole thing too noisy anyway – or at least not any better than racing every once in a while (which is more fun – I think – than pouring through HR data).

      Come all you no-hopers, you jokers and rogues
      We're on the road to nowhere, let's find out where it goes

        I’m guessing that this will produce a lot of neat looking charts and graphs, but probably won’t be any more useful to you as a measure of your fitness than race times are.

         

        Thanks for taking the time to respond. I'm not looking for it to be more useful than racing, I just don't like to race that much, and was interested in seeing if there was another way between races to figure out my fitness.  Plus, when I do race, I could have an off day and it serves as just one data point.  

         

        As many folks do, I'll have a certain route I'll do from time to time.  Occasionally, I'll look at my time for that route compared to previous times and if I am able to do the same course faster but with the same or lower HR, than I feel like I'm improving.  I think that's a common thing that people do to see how they compare to themselves in past training.  I was just looking for a more general approach to doing this. 

        2014 Goal: Run faster than 3:37:07 in the NYC Marathon


        Feeling the growl again

          IMHO you won't find HR to be any more objective than any other measurement.  It's affected by many of the same things that affect race times, you're just adding another layer of complexity onto getting the data point.

           

          I believe that you would find your running log and a standardized workout or two to be the best solution to accomplish what you are trying to do.  Don't use easy runs; the feel of "easy" is so broad in pace that you won't get useful feedback.  While any workout can be used, I feel tempo runs are the best for this purpose because you get into a pretty narrow band of effort....too hard and you know it because it feels like racing, too easy and you don't feel you're doing the workout hard enough.

           

          There are many ways to do this...tempo around a given route, of a given distance, etc.  I like a 4-mile tempo for this.  Run one every 2-3 weeks and start recording the data points.  If your fitness is improving, the time for that tempo will come down and you'll see it.  Just resist the urge to race them to make it look like you are improving.

           

          In the future, when you do one you will be able to look back in your log and find another time you did one in a similar time, then correlate that with race times or performances in other workouts you did then so you can tell where you should be at now. 

           

          With a running log that goes back 12 years now, I can do my 4-mile tempo run and predict my race times...or times for other workouts...with pretty good accuracy.

          "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

           

            @spaniel, I guess my pursuit in trying to constantly evaluate my fitness comes from a combination of an obsession with data and graphs (as you can see by my summary) and a lack of patience, which I'm realizing through a bit more experience and reading these forums is key to improvement.

             

            I do see a lot of variation with my normal easy runs, so I think you are right, that choosing a specific tempo run may be the way to go for this.  Also, perhaps with more experience I'll also be able to predict my race times better.  Thanks for the response.

            2014 Goal: Run faster than 3:37:07 in the NYC Marathon

               Also, perhaps with more experience I'll also be able to predict my race times better.  Thanks for the response.

              After only a few years of racing (7 now!), I'm usually within 15-20 seconds in predicting how well I'll do in a 5K. Occasionally I'm way off, but those are usually the outliers where I far over or under perform my training.

              2013 Goal: Make 3:00:16 go away - FAIL.

              2014 Goal: Make 3:00:16 go away.

                ...I just don't like to race that much, and was interested in seeing if there was another way between races to figure out my fitness.   

                 

                ...I was just looking for a more general approach to doing this. 

                 

                How about the MAF test by P. Maffetone?

                http://philmaffetone.com/maftest.cfm

                 

                It is easy to do and makes a lot of sense (to me at least), but I have only just started using it (along with Maffetone approach to aerobic training) so I cannot really say how well it works. But there are many who say it does. You may want to check Low HR Training user group here on RA for more information on how to use MAF test.

                  How about the MAF test by P. Maffetone?

                   

                  You may want to check Low HR Training user group here on RA for more information on how to use MAF test.

                   

                  Thanks, tomjar.  I have checked out Maffetone and I was using it earlier in the summer, and I got all my info from the Low HR Training user group. I think that's where I really became interested in looking at my HR as an indicator of my fitness.  

                   

                  I'm starting to think that I'm probably putting too much emphasis on it though.  The problem is that I'm a numbers person, so having an objective number to quantify how I'm doing seems more valuable than just going by "feel".  I still have a lot to learn.

                  2014 Goal: Run faster than 3:37:07 in the NYC Marathon

                  Scout7


                  CPT Curmudgeon

                    Can't you quantify how you feel?  It's a simple scale of 1-10, with 1 being at rest, and 10 being all-out 40 yard dash type of effort.

                     

                    Then you can use the HR to match up how you feel, so you can establish a baseline of what that lower HR feels like, and equate that sensation with a number.

                     

                    Ultimately, the question is, how do we quantify "quality" for our runs?


                    Feeling the growl again

                       The problem is that I'm a numbers person, so having an objective number to quantify how I'm doing seems more valuable than just going by "feel".

                       

                      Highlighted the important word there.

                       

                      In the real world, what you are trying to do will only allow you to analyze data in retrospect.  Since so many things affect how a workout/race will go on a given day, it will be of extremely limited value to you in prosectively determining what pace or HR you should run at.

                       

                      Learning to be in tune with your body's feedback...."running by feel"....will allow you to adjust in real time.

                       

                      I would posit that the ability to adjust in real time is more valuable than retrospectively analyzing information.

                       

                      I think a lot of the more data-driven techniques (ie Maffetone) are fine for newer runners still trying to get in tune with running by feel and how different things should feel.  New runners may not know how to interpret the feelings of "easy", "tempo", "MP", etc.  Over time, however, I think it can evolve to the point where it holds you back and ties you to suboptimal ways of regulating your performance.

                       

                      As for objective measures, there are few sports with such objective measures as running.  At the end of the day, a race/time trial will have a clock and that will judge your fitness.

                      "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

                       

                      Scout7


                      CPT Curmudgeon

                        At this point, I would also recommend the book How To Measure Anything.

                         

                        Technically, it's geared towards business, but the concepts are the same, and it shows that "feeling" can be quantified.

                          "I think a lot of the more data-driven techniques (ie Maffetone) are fine for newer runners still trying to get in tune with running by feel and how different things should feel." Interesting that Maffetone's primary student was able to win 6 ironman Kona's. Mark Allen was not your typical novice athlete. (but I understand what you're saying as it relates to this thread) Cheers,

                          2014 Goals:

                          #1: Do what I can do. <DOING>

                          #2: 365 Hours training <NOPE, INJURED>

                           

                            Nice article by Mark Allen.

                             

                            If you read the article, he notes that psychologically (for whatever reason, probably the swimming background in which there is minimal pounding so you can actually go harder more often) he had a hard time running easy enough. Since he was training for ironman triathlons--i.e. super long races--it was really key for him to teach his body to utilize fat when competing, so he needed to slow it down in order to train substantially in fat-burning zones.

                             

                            He describes his experience in the article as being overtrained, then meeting Dr. Maffetone, then slowing down so that he could recover from that state and avoid reaching the overtrained state again. He trusted the HRM (and, not incidentally, a good coach) in ways that he could not trust his body. But if you read this article, his body was screaming at him to slow down: "I had some good races the first year or two, but I also suffered from minor injuries and was always feeling one run away from being too burned out to want to continue with my training." He just refused to slow down because he was looking at what other athletes did instead of reading himself:

                             

                            when I entered the sport of triathlon in the early 1980’s, my mentality was to go as hard as I could at some point in every single workout I did. And to gauge how fast that might have to be, I looked at how fast the best triathletes were running at the end of the short distance races. Guys like Dave Scott, Scott Tinley and Scott Molina were able to hold close to 5 minute miles for their 10ks after swimming and biking!


                            This was his weakness as an athlete: looking to other things, not focusing on himself. Interesting also to note also that he puts the feel of running hard in terms of "turning off the pain sensors for short periods of time." Sounds like he would need a HRM in the race since he is not paying attention to the primary source of information.

                             

                            It's for the very reasons listed in this article by Allen that I would encourage new and developing running NOT to use a HRM or GPS too much--precisely so that they don't make the same mistakes that Mark Allen did. If, after a while, you still refuse to listen to your body and think that making progress means killing yourself every session, then by all means get a coach and let him give you some HR numbers to hit. 

                             

                            To my mind, most of the runners who practice HR training actually end up with the opposite problem of Mark Allen--they don't train hard enough; they limit themselves with the monitor. That's because most runners are not nearly as relentless and hard core and driven to get faster as Mr. Allen. They need to learn to GO when they feel good. Just like they need to learn to slow down when they feel bad.


                            Feeling the growl again

                              "I think a lot of the more data-driven techniques (ie Maffetone) are fine for newer runners still trying to get in tune with running by feel and how different things should feel." Interesting that Maffetone's primary student was able to win 6 ironman Kona's. Mark Allen was not your typical novice athlete. (but I understand what you're saying as it relates to this thread) Cheers,

                               

                              That a Philips head screwdriver is lousy at removing flathead screws does not make it a bad tool, only one being used for the wrong purpose.

                               

                              Someone in or training for an Ironman, and most of the people here training for fitness or races the marathon and shorter, are two very different things.  To a large extent, for the reason's described in Jeff's post.   

                               

                              I agree wholeheartedly with his last paragraph.  I have personally seen a couple Maffetone disciples who could not understand why, after awhile, they were not improving.  They were doing just what they were supposed to do....and plodding along way too slow for their new-found fitness.

                              "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

                               

                                I agree with both of you.  The thing is that some of the MAF people are using it to do better in a 5k, 10k, 1/2 Marathon, etc.

                                They're listening to advice from smart people (namely Mr. / Dr. Maffetone.) regarding something that won't help them.  @Spaniel, your screwdriver analogy seems correct.  

                                 

                                I only made the comment because of the "newer" runner comment.  I seem to think that the Maffetone methodology is actually for experienced athletes (super long endurance racing such as ironman triathlons and ultra marathons).

                                 

                                Brian 

                                2014 Goals:

                                #1: Do what I can do. <DOING>

                                #2: 365 Hours training <NOPE, INJURED>

                                 

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