Fastest Run Yet: A Tale of Two Lines

Today, I hit another milestone in my long journey to experienced triathlete.  With the Santa Barbara Triathlon this weekend, I need to take it easy during this week’s tapering period.     For me, this meant a nice and easy 5k run, which didn’t really turn out as planned.

The 2.3-mile run data set.
The 2.3-mile run data set.

One of the cool things about the chart above is my heart rate (red line) ramped up slowly to 179bpm in the first mile which I finished in nine minutes and ten seconds.  Woohoo!  That is the fastest mile yet!  The smooth heart rate and consistent pace tells the tale of a runner that has found the zone is happily running down the boulevard. (Click here to see the hosted data)

But, that is where the goods new ends.  During the remainder of the run I struggled and to run with good form and to keep the pace consistent (running fast until perceived exhaustion).  The blue line (pace) tells the tale of the rabbit and the hare, post one mile.  I start out running fast, then slow down and then fast again as I approach my perceived exhaustion point. At that point, I slow to a fast walk, the heart rate comes down and then I start the fast, slow, fast pace all over again. Until I completed the loop at 2.3 miles and called it a day, prematurely exhausted ahead of plan. In fact, a slower, consistent pace would have gotten me to the 5k distance I planned to cover originally and even at the same pace.

In reflection, there are two things I wish to point out.   First, I was running with my iPod and was more interested in keeping up with the beat than anything else.  This was fine for the first mile, but after that, it was problematic.  On the flip side, the iPod helped push me to the 9:10 pace.   Second, my form was wrong.  I believe I deviated back to my old “slam” posture, post one mile, which is highly inefficient.  I also felt as though I was running bow legged (really, cowboy??) particularly at the end of the run.   While it is hard to blame posture challenges on an iPod, I believe that the music masked the sound my feet made, preventing me from knowing how hard I was slamming the ground.   Again, the iPod was a distraction, but at the same time an enabler.

Having the Training Peaks software to analyze the run afterward is a powerful tool in helping me understand what I need to improve.  I bought the Garmin 305 GPS/HR monitor specifically to focus on my running and viewing the data via Training Peaks is about understanding the tale that each line tells.   Tonight, it was an interesting tale of the hare and the bow-legged cowboy.