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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm currently training for the Philadelphia HM using a cut-down version of the Daniels Marathon A program and having a problem settling in on which VDOT level on should be running.<br><br>
I've be running for about 11 months, finishing C25K and One Hour Runner around New Years. For the spring racing season I built my mileage slowly, peaking at about 25M/week spread over 4 days/week, including 1 day of "quality" which was either fartlek or a tempo run. Using my race times I chose E and T paces from the Daniels VDOT tables. This worked out pretty well for me.<br><br>
I tweaked a hammy in my last race of the season (May 6), after which I dropped my mileage considerably and cut quality runs for about 4 weeks. After an aborted flirtation with some interval training (sharpening for my July 4 race), I've been basebuilding for Philly. I'm now up to 45M and 5 days/week. I plan on peaking at 50M/week.<br><br>
Here's the problem. I ran two races in June and July on much lower mileage. Dates, distances, times, associated VDOTs, and circumstances were:<br><br>
6/10 5K 22:40 (7:18 ) VDOT=43 perfect day, flat course<br>
7/4 4.21M 31:48 (7:33) VDOT=42 hot, I had a cold<br><br>
Post 4th of July, the E pace for VDOT=43 (9:37) was not easy, so I fell back to VDOT=42 (9:48 ). However, since then I've put in some really good mileage, and I'm finding it quite difficult to slow down to the 9:37 pace, let alone the 9:48. Normally, I'd go out and find a race and reevaluate, but this being summer in Arizona there isn't anything on the schedule until an 8 miler on Labor Day, and even that race won't be ideal given the tough course and likely brutal conditions.<br><br>
So, what do I do? Do I take a day out of my training and do a mile or 5K time trial? Do I bump to VDOT=44? Do I find a natural E pace and use the corresponding VDOT? Do I suck it up and run at VDOT=43? I'm set to start quality runs for Philly this week, so I want to get my T & I paces as close to "correct" as possible.<br><br>
Thanks for reading this far, and in advance for any advice.
 

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To paraphrase Bill Parcells, “You are what your times say you are.” Therefore, I’d definitely NOT move up to the 44 VDOT paces. In the instance where two races run close together give you differing VDOT levels, Daniels says to pick the higher number. There were certain mitigating circumstances re: your 7/4 race that would have led to the lower VDOT performance as well (illness and weather). It may also explain why the easy pace for the 43 VDOT was initially difficult for you. As far as the Easy pace being too easy – well, it’s <i>supposed</i> to be easy – one of the hardest things to do in training (IMHO) is to run your easy runs slow enough. The test I use is this: Ask yourself at the end of a run if you could go out and do it again, right then. The answer should always be “yes.” If the answer is “no”, you’ve run the workout too hard.<br><br>
Hopefully, this helps.
 

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Do you use a heart rate monitor?<br><br>
I understand what you're asking about using Daniels' VDOT tables, and of course the problem can be when one is improving and without new race data to remeasure, what to do?<br><br>
My basic plan over the next 4 months is to use both Daniels' ideas, along with my heart rate monitor to check as needed if I should need to update. Well, actually, when I go out running, I use the heart rate monitor to monitor my effort and I've found that in doing so it has correlated well with recommendations by McMillan's pace calculator. Now with my last 5K, I've finally moved into the bottom edge of Daniels' tables with a VDOT of 31, so I'm going to be watching that as well.<br><br>
Maybe what I'm suggesting is that these are guides and they are useful. So if you're finding you're easy pace runs are outpacing what Daniels' tables show, then you've probably gone up in VDOT. But I'd seriously say that only move up in the tables if you're easy/recovery jogs are showing that improvement, don't make a move up based upon any sort of speedwork you might do.<br><br>
I hope that helps.
 

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That's a good point by CoachT about the possible tendency to outpace our easy efforts naturally and something to be wary of. That's one reason why I like have the heart rate monitor as a tool to gather information about my conditioning and paces. It's like getting a second way to measure the distance to a planet and checking to make sure the measurements using another method are correlating properly.
 

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I think that HR monitoring and Daniels' VDOT tables are getting to exactly the same place, just from different points. I HATE HRMs (I'm anal, but not that anal), so I prefer to just use the pace charts, but I can certainly see where you're coming from Scratch.
 

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Kris:<br><br>
I can't speak specifically to VDOT, since I don't do Daniels, but the general principal holds. Conventional wisdom says that you will still gain significant benefits even if you are training slightly below your potential paces, but have a greater risk of injury if you train above those paces. Also, if you train too much at higher paces than you are ready for, you at the least get worn down and it gets progresivvely harder to hit your goal times (you hear people talk about leaving their best times on the roads - this is what they are talking about.) So for workouts I try to think hard, but rarely killer. Killer is for races.<br><br>
It might not be a bad idea to see if you can get into another race in Aug/Sep and re-evaluate. E.g. I will run a race on 8/18 to validate my training goals for a 9/16 race.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks guys!<br><br>
I guess I'll stick with the VDOT 43 for now per T-Rev's advice. Tom makes a good point here as well...I'm getting some benefit from these workouts even if they're slightly slower than what I should be doing, and given that this is already probably an aggressive training plan for me, why push it any harder and risk injury, or grind myself down?<br><br>
Matt, I don't use a HRM. I have the Garmin 205. I'm a little curious about HR training, but with the (really nice) equipment I've got I don't have a heart rate option.<br><br>
It <i>is</i> a little frustrating right now though, feeling like I'm in better shape than I was without having a race to gauge that by.<br><br>
I'll definitely be doing some races before Philly to evaluate and tune-up, but the racing schedule here is really thin even into October because of the heat. I'm hopefully going to be in Boston for a couple of weeks in September or October so maybe I can find a nice 8-10K then.
 

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I can understand that, but the HRM fits in well with my mentality and the fact that my daily life is a grind of gathering information about blood sugars, insulin doses and rates. Using the HRM at this point has become invaluable for me to start deducting what to expect from my blood sugars and basal metabolic response to the stress of running. I still have a lot of information to gather, and a HRM has been great for working some of those issues out, along with helping me understand the ideas behind different pacings.<br><br>
Of course, my half-marathon training is going to be much simpler than Kris's, simply because I'll be almost exclusively easy-paced base building with a tempo run thrown in every 3 weeks. Kris is asking about the paces where it seems to me it might be especially important to err to the side of caution, whereas if I err by going a bit faster than easy-pace it's not so likely to injure me.
 

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Kris:<br><br>
Another idea if there are no races around and you just really want to satisfy your curiosity is to hit the track one morning and do a 2 mile time trial. That should be long enough to give you good data, and short enough not to kill you. I wouldn't do them all the time though, since it would be a race-level (or near race-level) effort.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I've definitely considered this. Would I do this on a normal off-day so as not to screw up my scheduled miles?<br><br>
Matt, I'm right with you in wanting more data. The 205 was a gift; if I had sprung for one myself I would have probably shelled out for the 305 to get the HRM. Astronomy is an incredibly uncertain science -- there's almost always never enough good data to say anything with authority. One of the thing I like about training is that it's often times a much better posed problem, and heart rate would just be more welcome data. Alas, no HRM for me right now.
 

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I would do it in place of a hard workout - not an easy day. It's a hard effort.<br><br>
Do you do any T pace runs? Maybe replace it with one of those. If you do<br>
something like a 2m warmup + 2 mile time trial + 3 mile cool down you still get a nice workout around it.
 

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I trained all winter for a May 6 HM and had similar problems trying to decide on goal pace because I had not raced in a long long time. I managed to run a 10k race (PR'd) in early March, a 5k race (7 seconds shy of PR) in mid March, followed by another 10k race in early April. I also spent a fair bit of time trying to get a really good handle on my threshold level. It was a qualitative assessment of my ability to handle a planned pace on that day. I was a bit too fast in January when I started, (could not hold it for 20 min, never mind an hour) but by April I was dialed right in on it at around 8:25 to 8:30 per mile. From all of that information I selected a pace (5:35 to 5:30 per km) and finished with an average pace of 5:34. I think I could have pushed a tad harder over the first half of the race, but the final 4.1 miles was run at 8:35 per mile, which was pretty close to my assumed threshold.<br><br>
Hope this helps you figure things out.
 

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All right, well geez, if we're going to be honest about this and all.<br><br>
Kris - you're in a window of rapid imporvement. Last winter I trained for a 10 miler with the idea that I could run 62-3 min, and the pipe dream of breaking 60. In April I ran a 17:25 5k, which projects out to a 60:20 10 miler.<br><br>
My big plan for my 10 miler in early May was to go out slightly sub 6 and just try to hang on. My first 3 miles were 5:39, 5:51, and 5:50. After 3 miles I was feeling really great and decided, wtf, lets make a race out of this. From there I averaged less than 5:40 and finished in 57 minutes.<br><br>
Sometimes you just don't know until race day. And I know that doesn't help. <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif">
 

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Great discussion. Particularly since I too am following JD this season and using the formula. I tested 4 weeks ago with a 2 mile trial.<br><br>
This past week I followed up with a tune-up race (4 mile) to check on the current VDOT.<br><br>
IMO, in testing your VDOT for your HM race the longer the test, the better. This early in the season, 2mi or 5km is a good test. One mile--maybe not as good of an indicator of HM potential.<br><br>
This season, I have planned a subsequent race or time trial every 4 weeks or so. This past weekend, I raced 4 miles. Based on the result, my current VDOT had improved by one point. Somewhat expected, since I had introduced some quality in the previous weeks.<br><br>
Regarding E-paced runs: I don't follow the paces to a T any longer. E days are just go as feel. Easy conversational pace. They can be slow and that's okay. I.e. Per my VDOT, my E-pace is 7:59. I run most of my E-pace miles 8:15-8:45. I do run some, but not as much, at 7:50 too. It just depends.<br><br>
Good luck with your season. I wouldn't sweat the E-pace runs. Run them to what feels comfortable to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Again, thanks for the input Trev, Tigger, Roots, and Tom. Yeah, I remember your Broad Street RR well, Tom -- that was an amazing performance. At this point though it's less about goal times for the race (though I do have those, of course) as it is figuring out where the heck I should be training. I'll worry about how realistic my goal times are when we get a little closer. I have a 10-miler I'm planning on running 4 weeks before Philly; that should tell me a lot about where I am for the half Mary.<br><br>
I've got two weeks with fartlek and T as quality work before I start track intervals. I'll see how I feel, and maybe I'll make the first track workout a time trial.<br><br>
Thanks again guys!
 

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I really don't see a significant difference between 42,43,44. Even running a race to determine vdot..it's a "guesstimate". I'm going to join the Phillytom and roots conclusion and say error on the light side for your easy pace, at the very least. If you're gonna to push towards a higher vdot do it for your tempo or MP.<br><br>
4 weeks is a tough call. My own experience is that 3 weeks off a year ago for a mental break, I lost nothing. 5-6 weeks off with a injury, I lost just about everything.
 

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Maybe I'll rephrase my last post a little bit. I'm in agreement here with fox-runr and roots, and maybe in a little disagreement with Trev, or at least a straw-man that I'll construct that looks a lot like him <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif"><br><br>
The point of my race story was to disagree with Trev's quote about how you are what the numbers say you are. And besides, I lost all respect for that man when he went to Dallas <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif">. Sometimes you are more than those numbers, sometimes you are less.<br><br>
I think that fox-runr had a good term - guestimate. I use the pace guidelines loosely with the following principles:<br><br>
- Easy days should feel easy, no matter what. I depend most on my Garmin on easy days just to make sure I don't get carried away. I save the energy for workouts.<br><br>
- Workout paces have their own distictive feel. I know what a tempo workout should feel like. Some days it's my goal pace, some days 5 sec/mile faster, sometimes 10-15 slower. It depends on many things, recovery from other workouts, sleep, life in general, weather, etc. It can be tempting to use this as a way to wuss out, but that's when you just have to depend on your own mental toughness.<br><br>
- Some days you'll feel good and you'll just really nail a workout at a level you didn't know you could. Go for it. If you're dead the next day, then whoops, you raced. Remember that for next time. If not, than you're stronger for it.<br><br>
And I don't know if Trev's line about being able to do the run again was about workouts or not. I certainly agree with it about easy runs. I heard a version of it that stuck me as more in line with how I run workouts. If someone asked you if you could go back out and run the workout again, you would say hell no. If they offered you $500 bucks to do it again, you'd say hell yeah!<br><br>
Anyway, I think I'm starting to repeat myself.
 

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Ok, to clarify a bit. Because Kris asked whether he should be training at a VDOT of 44, the Parcells quote was meant to imply that he shouldn't be training at paces faster than his performances would indicate. I think it was Tom that accurately explained why not.<br><br>
I guess I disagree with fox-runr in that I do think that specificity with paces is very important - even a 10-15 second differential with respect to my easy paced runs makes a huge difference in how I feel the next day. And with respect to T and I paced running I think pace specificity is even more critical - a difference of even 4-5 seconds per mile means the difference between a good, hard workout and a world of pain. Again, all IMHO only - it could all be in my head. I mean, I get frustrated when I'm off by 20-30 seconds on a 10 mile run. Can you tell that I'm a bit OC, yet?<br><br>
As far as gauging effort by the ability to complete a run again - there are some limitations to that - obviously if you've just completed a 15 mile run at an easy pace, you wouldn't likely be able to do that again, but for an easy five to seven miler, I think the test definitely works. Definitely NOT meant to apply to quality runs (or workouts as Tom calls them). <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif">
 

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Kris - think to get a better predictor for VDOT if you're training for the HM is at least 10k race. Sort of goes with the McMillan calculator - it predicts the longer races better if it is based on a longish race. Just my $0.02
 
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