Speed Check

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Here is some data from an athlete who ran a recent 10Km running race.  The course was all paved and by looking at the times below, you will observe that it started fast and ended ‘somewhat’ slow.

This athlete had a Garmin 405 GPS so it could track speed, heart rate, and distance. Here is the breakdown of the information:

1Km 2Km 3Km 4Km 5Km 6Km 7Km 8Km 9Km 10Km
181 187 190 191 187 188 188 188 188 188
2:59 3:08 3:22 3:38 3:27 3:29 3:32 3:32 3:33 3:29

 Top line is the distance, middle line is my heart rate, and last line is the km times. 

Behind the scenes, this individual did a lactate test a couple of weeks ago.  What’s interesting is that if this individual had been able to run a bit more conservative, so not going out super hard, they may have ended up with a better time. 

Trusting yourself to stick to a lower pace is a huge problem for endurance athletes

Is this you?  Maybe once or twice?  Well I’m going to give you proof of why sticking to a lower pace works.

Think of yourself as a gas tank with 5 spouts:

  1. Spout 1 is small and doesn’t allow much fuel to come out.
  2. Spout 2 is a little bigger.
  3. Spout 3 is a little bigger than spout 2.
  4. Spout 4 is a lot bigger than spout 3.
  5. Spout 5 is the biggest; it’s the fastest way to get energy.

Want to get something done quickly?  Use spout 5 of course!  But it comes at a cost… 

If you keep using a higher energy source, your going to eventually run out!  In reality, this doesn’t happen but you will slow down. 

Checkout the figure below.  This athlete did just that.   I only know this because of the lactate test.  As this athlete stepped out of their Zone 4 (an energy system providing about 30 minutes of high intensity work) into zone 5.

The figure above shows that for a good 3 minutes and maybe even more.  This athlete worked at a very high pace (Zone 5).  At this pace, there is only 5 minutes of energy to provide this system the necessary fuel to keep going. 

So what happens?

They slow down.  And you can see it.  This athlete if they had stayed in a low zone 4 for the entire race, could have potentially saved 20s in just the last 6K alone! 

A lactate test can help predict your speeds and keep you on track for a fast finish.  It also gives you a reality check on your pace so you do not over due it.