Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Limits According to VDOT Calculations

Since the Leprechaun 5-Miler, I keep thinking "Since I ran faster than I expected, where does that put me for expected marathon or half marathon times?  What is my actual limit?

"And what should my training speeds be?"  I know a lot of people suffer in their race performance because they train at either too slow or too fast of a pace, so I'm always curious where I should be at. I decided to check some numbers.  Therefore, I plugged the 5 mile time into the VDOT Calculator and here's what it told me...

Expected Times for Given Distances

1-Mile - 5:27
(My guess is I can beat that)

5 Km - 18:40 (6:01 pace)
(I think I can beat a 6:00 pace)

10 Km - 38:42 (6:15 pace)
(This might be a challenge)

Half Mary - 1:25:40 (6:32 pace)
(Really?! That's roughly 0:45/mile off my PR)

Full Mary - 2:58:47 (6:49 pace)
(I should be able to get a BQ?!?!)

Training Paces

EASY = 8:01/mile (<25% of mileage)
(Happy to see that.  I like 8:00 as an easy pace)

Threshold pace = 6:26/mile (<10% of mileage)

So what does the 5-mile PR mean?  Apparently that I should be able to BQ and do so under 7:00 pace.  My confidence level in this calculation is not very high, but it brings up interesting questions.  I even dug a little deeper and plugged in my half and full mary times on the VDOT calculator to see how much the predictions were comparatively.  Here's a summary of the data in a graph.

It seems that my PRs (granted, the half and full times could be better), are showing that my body does not stick to the VDOT algorithm.  


1.  What are your thoughts on the VDOT Calculator? 
How accurate do you think it is over the range of distances?

2.  Do you train according to specific paces - heart rate, PR times, or anything else?
I don't have specific zones, but I run based on perceived effort, which I admit is not the most accurate.  

Swim fast.  Bike smart.  Run hard. 


Jenny Davidson said...

You gotta get a HR monitor and train on HR zones! Truly, that's how you'll see the results you want...

Re: McMillan and other online calculators including the Daniels VDOT, my own subjective impression is that they are probably good for rule of thumb on shorter distances, but that the data pool most of that sort of table draws on was of very young fit runners with fully developed aerobic base off of really high weekly mileage, i.e. multiple years of running c. 80-120-mile weeks. I saw from my own experience over a couple fairly decent seasons (but at slower end of things) that it is a good predictor in a current season of half-marathon pace off 5-mile PR, but that for marathon times, even someone as fit as you are and with prior collegiate swimming experience will want to be very cautious on looking at possible marathon pacing off that sort of calculator. I think Jack Daniels is a coach of genius, but if you read the running formula book you'll see what other factors you need to take into account... In other words, VDOT will not give you a realistic marathon pace to shoot for, it's still a valuable metric but pace for 3:10 or even more cautiously 3:15 before trying to edge that mile pace downwards over the longer distance.
(McMillan link is here, probably you saw this already! http://mcmillanrunning.com/index.php/site/calculator) Think of true marathon peak as something you'll get to after a few years of distance running rather than coming off a couple years of more triathlon-based training...

Coy Martinez said...

Hmmm, didn't even know about that calculator but think I'll go and plug my numbers in and see what they say.

Anonymous said...

Hmm I'm going to go check that out! Very cool! I do train for a specific time, we shall see if I come close :/

Anonymous said...

have you read the mark allen heart rate guide?

you might find it useful if you have not.