Saturday, March 19, 2011

Maximising The Speed To Effort Ratio

That's what this long distance running is all about and today I achieved in spades. That has to be one of my best training runs - EVER! The weather was beyond spot on. The Sun shone brightly but not to the point that it was too hot - we're still in March.

Managed to haul ass over to the Brecon Beacons for my planned nine am start of my Stage 3 South Wales Traverse Recce. I got under way shortly after. My main aim for the day was to try and gauge my pace against my target splits for each of the sections. Slight problem, I'd forgotten to look them up before hand - school boy error! So without that I decided to try and run easy. To run well within myself and if anything go too slow. I walked the climbs and eased along on the flat while holding back on the descent. It sounds stupid but it is the descent that does the damage. If you steam downhill too fast it's pretty much all over.

So anyway, from the car park I arrived at the Storey Arms 1 hour and 19 minutes later ready to begin the stage for real. I should just mention, on the way across, on top Duwynt I stumbled across a crashed aeroplane! Still there from November apparantly, there's a news article about it here.

I digress, start the clock, I was off. I decided to try a direct line to Y Gyrn following a track at first before braving the tussocks to the very top. I walked. Took my time and arrived in 19 minutes and 35. That had to be slow but it wasn't the target split is 23 minutes but of course, I didn't know that at the time.

From there I decided to loop round to Duwynt. I've tried it the other way with Pat but feel you lose too much height. The way I found was well inside the path marked on the map. Lost minimal height and all in all was a great line. Slightly longer distance than the more direct route but I reckon I expended much less effort and in this game it's all about maximising the speed to effort ratio. If you get that right you are quids in. I was round to Duwynt in 26 minutes and 14 seconds (the target was 35 minutes). Again I really felt like I was holding back. I could have run far more of the ascent than I did, gone faster on the flat but the aim was to minimise the effort while maximising the speed. Economy is key.

The run off to Corn Du and then Pen-y-Fan were slightly quicker than the targets but they are such short sections they don't account for much. Even so, I still took it steady, and walk the walk where normally I would run.

Another thing to mention I was trying to balance my food intake during the run. For that I set my watch to a fifteen minute countdown. Every fifteen minutes it would beep and I'd take on board an energy gel. I was trying a SIS Isotonic one. I was pretty religious with it and it worked well and there were no repercussion from the internals. I kept feeling strong all the way. I was also religious in continually sipping the electrolytic drink all the way too. I think the isotonic SIS is the way forward.

From Cribyn I eased along steadily over to Waen Rydd. Walking the bypass of Fan-y-Big, running the ridge while stopping to walk on the occasional 'uppy' bit. That was a long section but I didn't realise at the time there is a split down at the Roman Road off Cribyn which I missed. I successfully found the trod that takes you right to Waen Rydd so I can tick that off. It wasn't all sweetness though, I was way too quick. I didn't feel I was pushing hard but I reached Waen Rydd in 39 minutes and 9 seconds where I should have taken 56 minutes. I honestly was running hard. I was pottering along but 17 minutes is an excessive amount of time inside the split. It's that damn ridge run. It sucks you in to cruise mode. I must make sure I take care on that part in the real thing.

From Waen Rydd I picked all the right paths over to Alt Lywd in 17:45 verses the target of 22:00 so that wasn't too bad but then again, that was 20% up, but it all felt comfortable.

The drop from Alt Lywd is somewhere I'd be happy to use the full time allocation. It's a steep, rough descent which can really do damage. I was a little up on the target but only by a couple of minutes, in 15:12 against 17:00. I'll be happy on the day to use the extra minutes to save the legs from a pounding. As it was I took that bit very steady so it's good to know I can afford to take it even more so.

Then it was just a case of getting myself back to the car. I followed the start of Stage 4 up to the forest track and then followed that all the way back to the car park. In all, I covered just shy of 20 miles with 5,500 feet of ascent in 4 hours and 12 minutes. It felt easy. I didn't push and hopefully I will having something left for the Hogweed Hilly Half tomorrow - but I wouldn't lay any bets.

All in all it's been a bloody brilliant day. Best of the year so far. I even managed to cut the lawn upon my return. Just off for half an hour very easy on the bike to try and resuscitate the legs ready for tomorrow...

Today's route track:-