Friday, January 27, 2006

Enough with the Analyzing!

Warning! Danger, Will Robinson! The following geekball post may cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, or vomiting.

[You've been warned.]

I've spent enough time analyzing all the data from my recent marathon. I've got splits for every mile; I know when, where and how much water and how much "PowerBar Endurance" I drank; when, where and how many gels I took; the carb content of everything (in grams); the sodium content of everything (in mgs); I used a standard measure of 13.8 ml/minute for the rate at which the stomach empties fluids into the intestines (haven't figured out how to measure that one yet); I used a standard rate of 25 ml/minute for a sweat rate (I measured it once or twice last year but can't find my data); I had my starting body weight and a conservative estimate of my initial glycogen stores. Anja says, "That's sick!".

I'll spare you, dear reader, the actual data.

The analysis shows that at around 192 minutes (the 21 mile mark), I had probably lost a good 2.5% of my body weight (fluid loss). Studies show that by the time an athlete has lost more than 2%, performance is degraded about 10%. My splits confirm this - I was slowing a bit. The 21 mile mark also corresponds to the first cramp I experienced in the race (low fluids/sodium).

Further, my data shows that I was likely running out of glycogen stores around 220 minutes (right around mile 24). This situation is commonly referred to as "hitting the wall". My average pace through the first 24 miles was 9:17. For the last 2 miles, my pace was 12:15. There's your wall. It happens in a matter of minutes.

On the plus side:

The cramps were less severe than in my previous two marathons. That's good. I'm on the right track.

Also, I seem to have pushed the "wall" back a couple miles from my first marathon. I'd say in my first marathon I hit it around mile 21 or 22. This one was at 24.

So what did I do wrong? What can I do better next time? How do I better prepare myself?

1. Better pre-race carb-loading. I could definitely do a better job here. I hardly increased my carb intake prior to the race. I just figured I'd maintain my diet and with the tapering I'd be packing away more glycogen. Next time I'll take the carb loading more seriously. No wall next time!

2. More salt. Apparently some people sweat out more sodium than others. I suspect I lose more sodium than normal people do when I sweat. Also, higher concentrations of sodium in the drinks you take in during a race aid in the absorption of fluids into your system (it just doesn't taste so good). Next time I'll probably try "Succeed" tablets, or else figure out how to get more electrolytes into the race drinks (or both). No cramps next time!

3. Become a more efficient runner. Need to run farther and faster with less effort (duh). So for my next cycle, here are three goals/changes:

A. Lose weight. [I'm right there with you Pnut!] Less weight to move = less effort. And I've got some weight to lose.

B. Add speed drills to my workouts. Per B.A.A. recommendations: 6 X 100m strides (at 1 mile race pace) two or three times a week. Also need to re-read Hal Higdon's book on running faster - maybe pick a couple more drills. Anyone have suggestions?

C. Stretch one or two long runs to 22 or 23 miles. I also plan to adjust the pace of my long runs. They could actually be just a little bit faster. This will require a bit of carb-loading prior to every long run.

That's it for my post-race analysis. I've got my next marathon planned, a couple races leading up to it, and my training program laid out. But more about that in my next post.



Blogger E-Speed said...

wow. maybe I need to do a better analysis of my races. I don't look at any of those stats. I just look at mile splits and go yup, thats what happened ;)

I think you are definitely going to do well with the speed workouts! I can't wait to get back on the track!

1/27/2006 4:09 PM  
Blogger boiledpnut said...

And I thought trying to analyze the calories consumed versus calories burned was difficult!

1/27/2006 8:20 PM  
Blogger runninturnip said...

This reminds me of a quote from Trail Runner Magazine: "Because if we weren't running, we would be at Star Trek conventions. Running is just another kind of geek."
Sounds like you are nailing it down though, Hal Higdon has some articles on runners world (online) that detail some good speed workouts...Have you heard of Yasso 800's?

1/28/2006 1:24 AM  

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