PB review 2016 & targets for 2017

My running in 2016 ended on a relative high. This is probably better phrased as, “My perception of running in 2016 was only saved from being ‘a complete fiasco’ by returning to a decent level of activity in December.” I ran 21 parkrun 5k events this year, but most of those were simply part of the process of recovery from one injury or another. Certainly, none were PB attempts and the fastest, 19:23 at Dulwich in June, was a full 30 seconds outside my 5k PB. Outside parkrunning, I participated in only three events this year. The first two of these were also in June; a 3k team relay and a 10000m PB although the latter was more of a statistical anomaly than a notable performance. By July I was already injured when I participated in the Thunder Run 24 hour team relay which really was such a fiasco that I couldn’t bring myself to write a blog post.

fiasco

Running in 2016 was only saved from being a complete fiasco by returning to a decent level of activity in December.

Consequently my targets for 2017 are unchanged from last year. In fact, I have removed the 50k target which I optimistically added last year as part of my #50at50 challenge. If I am unable to maintain marathon training this year long enough to line up at the Brighton Marathon in April I will likely acknowledge that the marathon is beyond my physiology and remove it too next year.

2016 season 2017 season
event opening PB target events improvement target
800m 2:25.9 2:19.9 2:19.9
1500m 5:18.2 4:49.9 4:49.9
mile 5:31.7 4:59.9 4:59.9
3000m 9:59.9 9:59.9
5000m 19:01.53 17:59.99 17:59.99
5k 18:53 17:59 21 17:59
5 mile 31:28 29:59 29:59
10000m 44:04 38:29.99 1 June 40:41.00 38:29.99
10k 39:04 38:29 38:29
10 mile 66:41 64:59 64:59
half marathon 86:29 84:59 84:59
marathon 3:09:59 3:09:59
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PB review 2015 & targets for 2016

The running year that was 2015 came to a singularly disappointing end for me and was only saved from complete statistical ignominy by February’s half marathon PB at Brighton. Achilles tendonitis, though only diagnosed as such in July, affected my season from February and morphed seamlessly into prepatellar bursitis during September which then accompanied me joylessly to the end of the year. Although I ran ten parkrun 5k events this year only three of these were inside twenty minutes and, of those, I ran only two as PB attempts. Hindsight seems to suggest even those were limited by the then undiagnosed tendonitis. Consequently my targets barely require revision for 2016.

Nonetheless the presentation of data in tabular form always engenders inordinate inner joy and so I have indulged myself to the full. Compared to last year I have set targets in three additional disciplines. The 5000m and 10000m targets are prompted by my participation in a 5000m, in April at a Highgate Harriers open meeting, and my aspiration to run at Highgate Harriers night of the 10000m PBs respectively. Although I had already run once in each discipline, both in 2006, I hadn’t previously noted these PBs separately from my 5k and 10k times; primarily because they were slower than my times in those disciplines anyway. The two track disciplines should of course be faster than their road race twins – the times for a 50 year old male recording an 80% AG performance are:

  • 5000m 18:01.80 / 5k 18:26.25 [ track just over 24 seconds faster ]
  • 10000m 37:37.91 / 10k 38:22.50 [ track nearly 45 seconds faster ]

With these comparisons in mind the targets below for 5000m and 10000m are clearly much kinder than the existing targets for 5k and 10k retained from last year. Personally an 80% Age Grade remains a Holy Grail – most of my PBs equate to an AG of around 75% – and since my strongest times are in shorter events it is unlikely I will ever achieve an 80% AG at 5000m or 10000m. Similarly the targets below for marathon and 50k – the third new discipline – are even kinder; the times equate to Age Grades of 73.41% and 71.90% respectively.

2015 season 2016 season
event opening PB target events improvement target
800m 2:25.9 2:19.9 2:19.9
1500m 5:18.2 4:49.9 4:49.9
mile 5:31.7 4:59.9 4:59.9
3000m 9:59.9 9:59.9
5000m 20:27 1 April 19:01.53 17:59.99
5k 18:53 17:59 10 17:59
5 mile 31:28 29:59 29:59
10000m 44:04 38:29.99
10k 39:04 38:29 38:29
10 mile 66:41 64:59 64:59
half marathon 89:16 87:29 2 February 86:29 84:59
marathon 3:09:59 3:09:59
50k 3:54:59

Well, that is as much joy as I can realise from reflection on statistics alone. Here’s to a happier New Year with some actual running!

If … Age Grade Holy Grail revisited at 50

Shortly after my 49th birthday, I considered the times I would need to achieve to record an 80% AG at that time. Having completed my 50th year at the start of this month, and spurred on by a comment from runningest sister after last weekend’s Bromley parkrun, I have revised the times, again using the Running for Fitness calculator. The slightly easier targets, combined with several PB improvements since my original post, have moved the Holy Grail just a little closer. In some disciplines tantalisingly so …

event 80% AG time (male, 50 yrs) current PB  improvement required pace improvement required per km
800m 2:25 2:26 0:01 1s 3:03 – 3:02
1500m 4:54 5:18 0:24 16s 3:32 – 3:16
1 mile 5:18 5:32 0:14 8s 3:26 – 3:18
5k 18:26 18:53 0:27 6s 3:47 – 3:41
5 mile 30:29 31:28 0:59 8s 3:55 – 3:47
10k 38:23 39:04 0:41 4s 3:54 – 3:50
10 mile 63:00 66:41 3:41 14s 4:09 – 3:55
half marathon 83:41 86:29 2:48 8s 4:06 – 3:58
marathon 2:54:20 4:08

If, and that’s an important ‘if’, I can stay fit throughout my fiftieth year I hope to enter at least one event each of the disciplines above in a PB competitive state. The comments I made in my original post regarding how many of the disciplines I might achieve an 80% AG at still stand – essentially up to and including 5 miles at the most optimistic – so the addition of a marathon to the list is purely for interest. In any case I will approach these AG goals cautiously as I do not want to jeopardize my returning, and hopefully ongoing, fitness and hence my #50at50 challenge and in particular my first marathon and first ultramarathon within that.

All the same, it would be nice if I could record one.

A big 'if'.

A big ‘if’. Similar to an important ‘if’. Both being quite nice.

.

Fit for fifty

Suddenly my fiftieth birthday is less than a month away! I have been so busy being concerned about being injured that the day seems to have crept up on me. Recovery wise I am now feeling much better both physically and mentally. Yesterday I ran just over eleven kilometres – the furthest I have run since mid April – without incident and later had a physio appointment which also went well. As I type I am just home from swimming 800m and looking forward to my next run on Thursday when I plan to run a kilometre or so further than yesterday.

My fiftieth birthday also heralds the imminent start of my #50at50 calendar which, when I first thought of the idea back in January, was conceived as a joyful celebration of my fiftieth year and my running. Whilst my fitness does seem to be returning, from today’s perspective it looks a little less joyful and little more daunting. We shall see.

Understandably, the Cyclist has also expressed doubts about my abililty to participate in 50 events in a year and still be available for family life; not least because of the inclusion of both my first marathon and my first ultramarathon. We shall indeed, see!

50at50_header

PB review 2014 & targets for 2015

Ending 2014 on a high – running over 120 miles and recording a PB in each of the last three months of the year – the middle six months where I didn’t run a competitive event now seem a long time ago. My primary PB focus this year was intended to be on distances of 5k and shorter, but that failed to materialise due to injury*.

One positive of being sidelined was that I took time to focus on weight management and successfully reduced my weight from around 73kg and rising, at the end of March, to around 67kg and stable since June. I am certain that my reduced weight has been a significant factor in the subsequent PB improvements I have made, although I’ve yet to realise all the hypothetical potential I calculated when considering my Stillman running weight.

ca

Around 67kg and relatively stable since June this year, I am certain that my reduced weight has been a significant factor in the subsequent PB improvements I have made.

To minimise the risk of further injury during my extended recovery period, I chose to focus on restoring strength and endurance at the expense of absolute speed and so reverted to historical type and ran exclusively longer distance events. Hence the only targets I’ve needed to revise this year are those at 10k and above. The marathon I’ve only included for fun since my first marathon isn’t due until twenty sixteen anyway.

2014 season 2015 season
event opening PB target events improvement target
800m 2:25.9 2:19.9 2:19.9
1500m 5:18.2 4:49.9 1 4:49.9
mile 4:59.9 1 March 5:31.7 4:59.9
3000m 9:59.9 9:59.9
5k 18:58 17:59 13 March 18:55
October 18:53
17:59
5 mile 31:36 29:59 1 December 31:28 29:59
10k 39:33 38:59 2 November 39:04 38:29
10 mile 67:53 1 March 66:41 64:59
half marathon 89:53 88:59 1 March 88:16 87:29
marathon 3:09:59

Whilst the right hand column is optimistically labelled “2015 season target” I’m curious to discover if any of these ever need revising again; it may be that it could more accurately be labelled “lifetime target”. In any event, whether I can achieve these targets or not, I am hopeful that I have at least two or three more seasons where I’ll be able to improve my PBs in as broad a range of distances as I have in the last two. With an eye on 2016’s marathon I shall be doing everything I can to stay injury free next year and hope that this will enable me to run a similar number of events as I did in 2013. If this in turn results in PB achievements as extensive as either 2014 or 2013 I’ll be very satisfied indeed.

end of year summary 2014

I’m hopeful that I have at least two or three more seasons where I’ll be able to record PBs across a broad range of distances as I have in the last two years.

Here’s to a Happy New Running Year. And a good one in all aspects of life for that matter! 🙂

* I have agreed with myself to stop linking back to the posts I made at the time, but am making a final exception as I say farewell to 2014 and re-spraining my right ankle back in March.

Age Grade Holy Grail

I’ve occasionally suggested that if I had to have a religion I’d be most likely to choose numerology*; I find the statistics relating to almost any subject interesting and strangely attractive. I particularly enjoy the way that values which are intrinsically arbitrary acquire quasi-mythical status as ‘significant barriers’. Was the first sub four minute mile really any more remarkable than the first under 4:01? Or 3:59? Is there any compelling reason for the Queen to commemorate the 100th birthday of one of her nominal subjects as opposed to their 99th or 110th? Did Usain Bolt feel underwhelmed when becoming the first human to run 100m in under 9.8, and then 9.7, seconds relative to Jim Hines’ elation at breaking the 10 second barrier?

A friend recently mentioned that for some golfers the Holy Grail is to score their age in a round. Though I would think its application is limited to those of around age 70 and older I like the way that works; as the player ages so they are allowed one additional shot per round, whilst at the same time their strength and driving range decreases so maintaining the difficulty. For runners Age Grading (AG) has no such limitations. After completing my second 800m in 2:25.9, an AG of 78.32% as a 48 year old last year, I first considered the possibility that I might be able to run an 80% AG.

Having just celebrated my 49th AG day, I have used the Running for Fitness calculator to calculate 80% AG times for all my event distances for a male at age 49. In absolute terms an 80% AG time is now just a little closer than it was before my birthday and I’m hoping that since I’m still an improving runner (all my PBs were set in the last 11 months) the Holy Grail of an 80% AG performance** is now within reach.

event 80% AG time (MALE, 49 yrs) current PB improvement required pace improvement required per km
800m 2:24 2:26 0:02 3s 3:03 – 3:00
1500m 4:52 5:18 0:26 18s 3:32 – 3:14
1 mile 5:16 5:32 0:16 10s 3:26 – 3:16
5k 18:18 18:55 0:37 7s 3:47 – 3:40
5 mile 30:15 31:36 1:21 10s 3:56 – 3:46
10k 38:04 39:33 1:29 9s 3:57 – 3:48
10 mile 62:29 66:41 4:12 16s 4:09 – 3:53
half marathon 82:59 88:16 5:17 15s 4:11 – 3:56

I can’t help but wonder in how many disciplines I could reach the Holy Grail? I’m confident that 800m is achievable given how close I’ve come already with no specific preparation. Despite currently being 18 seconds per kilometre off pace over 1500m I think that both it and the mile are achievable too. My current 1500m PB is something of an anomaly since of the three times I’ve raced the distance two were within 15 minutes of an 800m race and the third I was the lone entrant. It did feel good to finish first for a change.

Beyond that it’s going to get hard. Very hard. My targets for this year include times for 5k and 5 miles that slightly exceed an 80% AG; I was definitely in an optimistic frame of mind when I wrote those! I do think 5 miles is the upper distance limit though …

* My personal sect – established circa 2004, number of known adherents 1 (though I think it is highly likely the Queen is also a believer) – celebrates numbers for their innate appeal; there is no supernatural element.

** You might like to read the successor to this post where I reconsider this goal one year on.

Stillman running weight

I first came across the Stillman running weight formula sometime in 2012 although I can no longer find the particularly thorough article in which I first read about it. The formula presumably comes from the pre internet age as I can only find it referred to indirectly online and even then some articles* appear to have been published offline before appearing online.

The formula reflects the simple observation that elite runners are typically lighter than non-runners (of healthy weight) and that as the event distance increases so the athlete tends to be proportionally even lighter. Whether there was any physiological justification of the formula is not clear from the articles I’ve seen; it may be that Dr Stillman derived the formula mathematically to best model the weight of elite runners at the various event distances. I’m writing about the formula not to prescribe a particular running weight as “right”, but purely because I’ve used it to set a personal running weight goal and found using it interesting.

The formula uses imperial units for both weight and height and though I’ve seen the formula re-expressed to use metric units I’ve found it simpler to convert my metric height to feet and inches via Google and subsequently convert the imperial weight value produced to kilogrammes. If imperial units meet all your needs it’s a calculation that can easily be done mentally.

The formula can be expressed concisely in two steps:

Calculate a base value for a healthy, non-active individual by adding 5½ lbs (male) or 5lbs (female) for every inch in height over 5 feet to 110lbs (male) or 100lbs (female).

Modify the base value reducing it by a percentage dictated by event type; sprinters 2½%, hurdlers 6%, middle distance runners 12% and long distance runners 15%.

In my case, a five foot ten inch male, the base value is calculated as:

10 x 5.5 + 110 = 165 lbs = 11 stone 11 lbs = 74.8kg

And modified as below for each event type. [Note  the additional information on what constitutes a sprinter, hurdler etc.]

event type reduction weight BMI
non-active 11 stone 11 lbs 74.8kg 23.7
sprinter (100m – 400m) 2½% 11 stone 7 lbs 73.0kg 23.1
hurdler (100m – 400m) 6% 11 stone 1 lb 70.4kg 22.3
middle-distance (800m – 10K) 12% 10 stone 5 lbs 65.9kg 20.8
long-distance (10 miles plus) 15% 10 stone 0 lbs 63.6kg 20.1

I spent some time considering my racing weight in the context of the formula during early and mid 2012 and in the process decided I was most definitely a middle distance, not a long distance, runner. That is quite likely the case as subsequent performances over 800m, 1500m and one mile would appear to confirm, but at the time it was more in the harsh light of the results produced by the formula. When I first completed the calculation, the goal weight for even a middle distance runner seemed to border on the impossible; I had come close to 70kg / 11st as an adult, but only momentarily. Nonetheless by the time I set my running targets for 2013 I had fixed my goal at 66kg / 10st 5lbs / BMI 20.8.

By August 2012 I’d come close to 70kg / 11st as an adult, but only momentarily.

By August 2012 I had come close to 70kg / 11st as an adult, but only momentarily.

Writing now, within 2kg of my goal weight, it doesn’t seem extreme to any degree; it’s remarkable what a change of position does for perspective. I’ve read that every pound of excess weight lost can be expected to produce a two seconds per mile increase in pace …

event PB weight at PB hypothetical PB
at 66.0kg
800m 2:25.9 71.6kg 2:13.6
1500m 5:18.2 71.2kg 4:56.8
1 mile 5:31.7 73.7kg 5:08.8
5k 18:55 73.5kg 17:13
5 mile 31:36 71.5kg 29:35
10k 39:33 71.6kg 37:00
10 mile 66:41 71.3kg 62:48
half marathon 88:16 73.2kg 81:20

There are some pretty exciting numbers there! I’m looking forward to achieving my goal weight, returning to full fitness after my recent ankle sprain and then rigorously testing out my new physique to see just how much difference it makes.

* See articles at Serpentine and Horwich RMI Harriers club sites.