Saturday, September 6, 2008
Ryan Hall's recap of his race in Beijing.
am) 8 miles. Kind of easy but sort of hard at times. Not hard hard but just sort of hard. The easy jogging was sort of easy but not easy easy like a recovery run. If I had worn my HR monitor this would all be very clear and useful information. The way I felt today has no definable use or bearing at all in regards to training. If I had used gadgets then I would have a clear and definite picture of my reaction to stress. Instead- no gadgets = no knowledge. Although by running an 8 mile course that was measured using a gadget, I did (retro actively)use a gadget today... so I cheated.
The whole concept of not using gadgets implies that improvement stops. If I run at goal marathon effort today with out the use of gadgets, then repeat the workout next week, there is no way to know if I am training correctly. By using simple perceived exertion I am leaving hydration, glycogen repletion, mileage, stress, fatigue... all up in the air. To say that it is ok to even use a watch or run on a measured course means using a gadget. To wear lighter shoes means using a gadget. You can't say that the use of information is incorrect and expect to have any credibility if you too use even one gadget.
In order for me to improve I need to use a HR monitor to monitor my progression (or digression). To not use a HR monitor is simply avoiding data that can be useful to allow improvements in training. Relying on perceived exertion is not superior to being knowledgeable in the science of training... for me. Both as a runner and as a coach. I insist that my athletes use gadgets otherwise I am unable to quantify an athlete's effort. If one of my athletes described their run to me as I described my own run today, I would have nothing to say. The same goes for my own training. To look back at training logs from previous training cycles and see vague entries like 'easy' and 'hard' has little benefit to learning what works for my body. But to see that I was running at goal marathon pace of 5:30 miles at a HR of 155 tells me a lot and the details of how I acheived that fitness is the key to my future as a runner. There may come a day when I no longer need to use gadgets, but in order to get there I need to learn as much as possible about what works for me in regards to mileage and intensity.
And if the use of gadgets is wrong- then that implies that Dr. Rosa, Canova, Hudson, Daniels, McMillan, Brother Colm... all have it wrong. Ryan Hall, Tergat, Geb, Radcliff.. they are all screwing up.
I can see the benefit to not using a HR monitor in a race though. Once you have a clear idea as to what is possible with the fitness you have- then on race day you simply go for it and stick to the pace per mile that is your goal. In order to gain an understanding of what is possible in a race- you have to have an understanding as to how your body reacts to goal pace. Canova and Arcelli have done the research to know what intensity the human body can sustain in a marathon. This has a definitive value in terms of HR, pace and blood lactate levels that are relative to lactate threshold. With this knowledge an athlete can train at the optimal intensity to stimulate marathon specific fitness. Why wouldn't you want to do this? If you are truly serious about reaching your best in a marathon then why wouldn't you also include this knowledge to the training program? By eliminating the use of blood tests and a HR monitor you are limiting your development. Why would you not use the most feedback available?
I am speaking specifically about most runners and I don't think 'we' should be comparing ourselves too much to the top .01% of the marathon world. Of course the Kenyans that have developed YEARS of training base since they were 6 years old have a different sense of their limits. A runner like Ryan Hall who has been 'elite' since he was 17 has a better sense of 'self' than I will ever have. These guys have the basic elements that make them great marathoners. I'm talking about the normal people of the world- guys like me that started late. Relying on perceived exertion has too much margin for error particularly in regards to hydration, recovery, reaction to stress, adrenal response. These are all things that you won't be able to sense. When a HR monitor costs half as much as a pair of fancy running shoes, why WOULDN'T you choose to use one if you were truly serious and dedicated to achieving your potential?