Training with power – a little test

I was feeling tired today but I knew I needed to get in a longish run, what with all the drinking and carousing that will follow in the next few days. I also wanted to test out how complicated some of the runs are from my forthcoming marathon schedule, and seeing as one of the first runs I need to do in mid-December is an easy, power-defined run, I figured this would be a good way to combine both needs.

Typically, when I go for an easy run I either go out much too quickly, or get bored near the end and run too fast at the end, neither of which is good. Also, because one of Singapore’s few hills is right behind where I live, it’s hard to keep to a slow gentle effort when there’s a great big incline to deal with. All these were things I hoped to sort out by training to a power number.

I am not fond of the prescribed power test (basically because I can’t push myself as hard as when I run a 5k at the weekends) so I bodged together some estimates of peak power, which suggested that my Zone 1 power (nothing more strenous than a walk) would peak at 250, and my Zone 2 at 270. The planned run was 4 minutes at Zone 2, then a minute at Zone 1, and rinse and repeat until you get to 40 minutes. So off I went.

power-output

The colour scheme leaves a bit to be desired, but the orange is power, the faint mauve is elevation, and the dark purple is my heart rate.  I misremembered my power zones, and assumed I was going for a max of 275 rather than 270, but apart from that I think I was mostly on target.

Trying to keep your power output in that interval is quite challenging; I kept going above it, and then having to slow down to bring my output down.  There’s also no alert from my Garmin that I’ve exceeded the target range (unlike if you were training for pace or heart rate) so you’re reduced to looking at your watch to check if you’re doing it right or not.  That could, I suppose, also impact on your form and therefore your output.  So if I’m on the track, it’s probably better to review power afterwards rather than during the session.

While doing recovery work, however, it’s pretty useful, because it stopped me overdoing things.  On the way up Mount Faber, I didn’t deviate from my target output too much, despite the big altitude change.  On the way down, I was also pushing myself to run faster than I would have done normally, because otherwise my power output would have been too low.

At the same time, my heart rate was creeping up throughout the session, so if I’d been training to that, I would have slacked off more towards the end.  Whether that means this was a more or less well-defined session is something we’ll have to see when I try to lever myself out of bed tomorrow morning for another run.

The other difficult things here are: (a) forgetting to set a workout in the Garmin, so it didn’t beep automatically at me every 4 minutes/1 minute to tell me to slow down or speed up, and (b) having to review power output through Stryd’s interface, which doesn’t include lap markers.  That’s really annoying because if you’re trying to assess average power and pace during a set of repeats, it’s very fiddly indeed to try to identify the start and end points.  Garmin’s own web interface fails to display average power per lap, because … because it wants to be annoying, I suppose.

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