Showing posts with label direction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label direction. Show all posts

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The history of my running speed

Directional declines
Today's run (street): 3.6 miles

I decided to do some data mining on Garmin Connect to compare my historical averages with my current performance. In order to keep the information consistent, I only used data captured from one source, my Garmin 210 that I bought in 2010. I know I've lost a lot of speed over the past year and my interest was in seeing whether my recent history is an aberration, or if it merely reflects a long term decline.

Charting the trends reveals a changing relationship between race speed and overall speed. My average pace has followed a linear decline, but my race paces have dropped measurably since 2012. Up to 2012, I generally paced 7.5% better in races compared to my overall average. After 2012, that gap has closed and is now almost equal to my training run times.

As I often say when working with business data, these findings are only directional. The Garmin data, acquired by GPS, has a variable margin of error. I tried to correct for that as much as I could, but the numbers do have some skew. I only selected runs I'd tagged as "street running" to filter out slower trail paces and faster track paces. It's also important to note that the 2014 data is only through May 25, not a full year.

In terms of these findings, I'm not happy to see declines, but at least the drop-off has not been as sharp as I'd suspected. I did today's run as a tempo, taking it easy through the majority of the distance and picking up the pace more at the end. The last mile was a minute faster than the prior few, and I finished feeling great. I wish I could tap into that speed more often, but based on my recent race performances, it's a little more complicated than just trying a little harder.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Seven the hard way at Stillwell

Today's run (Stillwell Woods) 7.2 miles

Due to tight schedules around yesterday's party I had to keep my run fairly short. Today I considered a trip to Bethpage to attempt a long run on the bike trail. The temperature was in the low 20's with the wind chill so I decided instead to head to Stillwell Woods. I figured that the woods would cut the wind and provide better running conditions than Bethpage. Plus Stillwell is closer and I get in for free.

I parked close to Southwoods Road, purposely locating my car as far from the trail head as I could. I figured I'd add some extra distance by running the quarter mile road along the way to the woods. I felt strong winds at my back and looked forward to warming up further as I ran. I followed my usual loops through Stillwell. After two years I know some trails well enough to run with confidence. That's what I thought anyway. I was moving along, feeling good, and after four miles I varied my route and cut through the southern part of the woods that led me back to the main trail. At that point I was feeling like I'd mastered the geography of Stillwell and despite choosing paths that had many gradual inclines I felt strong. I decided to run for a couple more miles and restarted my usual loop, but at the six mile point I found my way into unfamiliar territory. With only the sun to guide me I followed trails that I thought would bring me back to my starting point.

It may have been the slight anxiety that comes from being lost or the fact that I encountered some steeper rises but I began to feel tired and frustrated by the lack of directional context. Maintaining my sun-based navigation method I eventually came to a path that I recognized and I followed it west until I reached the playing fields at Stillwell.  From there I ran straight across in a beeline to my car. The freezing winds hitting me head-on were brutal and that last quarter mile seemed to take a very long time. I quickly got into my car and downed an electrolyte drink, sweating and freezing at the same time. I was happy to have covered over 7 miles today, bringing my weekend total to almost 12. I guess I'll have to wait another day to run 10. Seven in the woods was plenty hard today.

Monday, July 6, 2009

An all encompassing problem

I like running trails because they provide a constant source of challenge and mystery. What's around the next bend of this twisty path? What exactly is the source of that rustling sound that follows me along the way? Once I get over this steep hill will the terrain get better? Exciting. The other part of the challenge is navigation. Where exactly am I? Am I heading toward or away from my intended destination? Why did I just come out onto the street? It's fun to be lost when you know the bounds of your trail area but there are times when I really wished I'd brought a compass.

Yesterday I made a trip to Dick's to try and find one that I could wear on my wrist or clip to my shorts. I didn't have too much luck, the ones that they did have were either too big or limited in other ways. I went online later to see if I could find something suitable. Nothing has jumped out at me. My requirements are simple. The unit must be small enough to be unnoticeable when not needed and large enough to be useful when it is needed. It needs to be easily accessed while running in clothes that have no accessible pockets. It can't dangle on a lanyard because that will be annoying. I don't want to spend a lot for a digital compass or a 5-in-1 device that has capabilities I don't need for recreational trail running.

All I really want is to be able to find my way back to my starting point when the midday sun is directly overhead and it can't help me navigate. Any suggestions?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The industrial park odyssey

Everything is gray and wet and it all looks the same to me. The buildings and the roads through the industrial park wind around in a pattern that probably makes sense when viewed from above but on the street it's hard to determine which way leads north or south. The rain, which began as a welcome sprinkle through the late afternoon haze has increased in force and the sun is gone. I pick a direction that I think will lead me out and back to my neighborhood only to discover that I'm 180 degrees off and dead ending at a point where cars are whizzing off the expressway onto a busy four lane road. As the skies open up and the rain gets harder I turn and run toward an office building to take cover under the overhang from a bank. Two bank employees step outside, look at me and giggle for good reason. In my bright yellow jersey, running shorts and lime green accented running shoes I'm the last thing they expected to see on this dark rainy day.

I see that the rain has slowed down and I head off in the other direction, the parking lot has filled with puddles and I step in one so my running shoes and socks are soaked to match the rest of me. I reach a crossroads and realize that choosing the wrong direction will put me even farther away from where I need to go. It's cold and getting darker and the rain starts again, harder. I decide to go right and quickly encounter dozens of cars rushing to get out of the park, leaving me little room to run, save the slick, downward sloping, landscaped grass that runs beside the road. I ask a young woman leaving work if she knows how to get to the service road. She points me in the direction I just left so I ignore her and soldier on hoping to recognize something familiar from the path I took to get where I ended up.

It's getting late and I'm expected home but I have no phone and no money for a payphone (if they still existed) to call and say that I'm stranded. My glasses are foggy and my vision is distorted by the rain. I'm amazed to have found myself in this situation. I feel like I'm headed in the wrong direction until I see two people at a bus stop and I ask them if they know how to get to the service road. They do! They turn me around and point out a road that bears right in the distance and they tell me to follow that. I take off at what I'll guess was an 8:00 pace and as I round the corner I see the familiar entrance to the service road that will lead me to the Middle School and then home.

I run with everything I have and make my way home in less than ten minutes. My wife opens the door and as I brace for the "Where have you been!? We've been so worried about you!!" all she says is "Hi! How was your run? Your shoes are all muddy!" It was a disorienting experience and a frustrating one too. I knew the whole time that I was half a mile from my front door yet I couldn't figure out a way to get there safely. I think I should start running with a compass.

So much for my attempt to break my distance record. I started well by picking up some miles in a previously unexplored neighborhood but the industrial park and the rain did me in. I'm taking today as a rest day and I'll go out again tomorrow morning. I never thought being 1,500 yards away could feel so far from home.

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