Running by the numbers and setting goals – was the title of the talk I did at our local running event RunFest held in Wellington, New Zealand over the last weekend (27th and 28th February).
For those who could not make it to RunFest or was attending James Kuegler’s trail running workshop during the day here is your chance to read all about what I was talking.
You can directly download the slides [ Running by the Numbers and Setting Goals 5 years of Data 5 MB ] and use that as a reference, the post will go into a bit more detail.
Watch this short video to get started.
Michael Browne is a (now) 83-year-old who likes to run. He likes to run a lot. 1951 Wellington mile-champion, 9 time marathon finisher, multiple 10km races and plenty of track racing, Michael should be an inspiration to us all.
Filmed with Sony FS100 and Nikon D800.
Filmed and edited by Mike Heydon / http://www.jetproductions.co.nz
As a runner you could start from anywhere, I started running when I was in high school back in Sri Lanka, this was way back in 1987. I wasn’t much good at cricket so I signed up for our athletics team who at that time consisted of a bunch of mis-fits who were somewhat the out casts of the school because we didn’t play cricket.
However we were lucky in that we got one of the best coaches in Athletics at that time who was assigned to my school for one year. I tried different events and found my comfort zone in running 400meters and 800meters. I never excelled at them but I was good enough to be part of the relay teams selected out of the few regional schools to run at school events and at regional level. Our coach had a very disciplined approach to training, I remember we used to meet at the school play ground at 6:30am every morning before school started.
The routine consisted of drills for about 20-30 mins followed by designated workouts for the distance. At that time we ran on a mixture of gravel grass playing field as our school didn’t have a track. The only track was at the main sports stadium some miles away and we only got to run there when a competition was on.
Training or “Running Practice” as we called it back then was about 90mins before school started and then after school we also had either strength work or longer runs. During two years our group of mis-fits became quite good and six of us including myself was selected to represent our region at national champs. Then I did something really stupid and played basketball and broke my ankle which put an end to my running. So this was back in 1990 and I never ran again until after I moved to New Zealand in 1999. My first few years in New Zealand was mostly about work and only around 2005 I started to realise I needed to do some physical activity, I was stressed at work, consistently tired and quite unhealthy with a fair amount of unwanted baggae around the waist. I bought a mountain bike and did a bit of that, then I started slowly doing jogs for 10-15mins. It felt weird/uncomfortable but almost somehow good and familiar feeling. So I continued on until I could run for 30mins without stopping. I also signed up for the Wellington Scottish 5k series during 2006/2007 and ran a few of these. Back then my 5k times were between 23-24mins.
Then my work and life got in the way again where I had to travel quite a bit and I fell off the wagon so to speak and got side tracked. After 2010 I started to be a bit more disciplined in my effort to be healthy and fit and thus began a somewhat deliberated and planned attempt to push myself to see where I could end up with running.
2011 to 2015 The Consistency Factor
In 2011 I ran a 5km timed race at the Scottish Waterfront race. The time was 27 minutes (00:27:23 – 11 January 2011). In 2014 September I ran my current personal best of 18mins and 25secs. http://5kseries.fedude.co.nz/participant/?pid=1346
This is the story from 2011 to 2015 and the progression with data collected over these years.
In early 2010 I started recording my runs on Endomondo, Endomondo was at that time quite new and provided a free service to track runs via an app, which I used on my iPhone. I also bought a Polar Running watch. This had no GPS capability so I used to time my runs and at this stage I was only interested in how much time I could run. I didn’t put any particular effort into running a particular distance but I kept using the app and the watch to check time and mapped the distance via the app.
In 2011, I upgraded myself to a Garmin (610) which boasted quite a bit of new features and also was one of the first “touchscreen” watches to hit the scene. There also was the ability to sync your runs to Garmin Connect and then export across to Endomondo.
Looking back at 2011 – my goal was to get fit, finish a half marathon and keep building a base. No big goals.I signed up for Wellington Round the Bays in 2011 and followed somewhat of a sporadic training plan. Which included about 2-3 runs per week with no target distances but rather time on feet ranging from 30min runs to 90min runs.
The numbers for 2011 was as follows:
Number of runs: 171
Distance: 1809 Kilometers
Elevation: 32,888 meters
Time on feet: 179 hrs
Average per day: 4.96 Km (assuming I ran everyday, but in reality once I factored in the days I ran an the average was about 10.5 Km)
Weekly Mileage: 34.80 Kilometers
During this period with the help of a Garmin watch I gathered a bit of data on how I was going. I also started to learn a bit about training and recovery by reading books by well known runners (The Runner’s Body). I learnt a lot about the Physiological changes and adaptation and goal setting.
To some degree this wasn’t new to me based on what I had done long time ago back in school but being an adult the absorption of this information helped a lot to formulate my future goals going forward.
In 2011 I ran my first half marathon (on road) – which was at Wellington Round the Bays. My time was 2hrs and 02minutes with an average pace of 5:47 min/km. This was what was possible given my level of fitness at that time.
Now fast forward it to 2014 August – My half marathon PB is 1hrs 26m with an average pace of 4:06 min/km.
So what happened between 2011 and 2015?
- Increased my days of running gradually by adding extra time on feet
- Incorporated some speed work (or a combination of hills/speed)
- Incorporated some longer runs on trails
- Added some cross training – I also mountain bike and ride a road bike
- Added strength and conditioning
- Changed my eating habits
- Kept it going consistent
- Did a lot of events to keep me motivated
During this time there have been many set backs, things that didn’t go according to plan even when they should have. But all these things makes running interesting.
The data I was collecting helped me in many ways, which included
- Self assessment – how did I do on the same race compared to last year
- Set goals (daily/weekly/monthly)
- Avoiding burnout – this is where you feel like every run is a chore
- Avoiding injuries – less is sometimes more
- Review progress
- Set benchmarks
You can download the complete slide deck here Running by the Numbers and Setting Goals 5 years of Data (5 MB)- and if you have any questions please do get in touch.
Keep smiling, keep running! Thanks to Mike, Ewa and Brent for the opportunity to speak at RunFest.