Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How to Not Conduct a Baseline Test

I meant to post this a little ways back, but it got lost in my drafts...

What are things they say that you are NOT supposed to do in order to ensure consistent testing environments? Drink? Stay up late? Get no sleep? Sudden change in weather? Those sound about right.

You may remember this post a while back. Well I can now confirm that it is true and you can add another sample to the study (n = 2). But let me go back to the start before I get ahead of myself.

It had been a solid 6 weeks since my first baseline test and I wanted to get some numbers figured out before my 10k race down in Richmond. I had been planning to conduct my 2nd baseline run test, but it just kept getting pushed off for random reasons. Since it had been so nice out, compared to the much colder weather we had been getting, I didn't want to spend a nice opportunity to put in good miles out on the road at the track running circles for an hour (not that I don't enjoy that too).

Because my first test was essentially estimated due to some technical difficulties with my HRM (I took my HR as I crossed the finish line of each run, but had generally knew how hard to push for each one so it didn't end up being too far off). I had some rough numbers to go by, but I've been putting in some good miles lately and I wanted to know where I stood, just a week before that first race of the year.

Several factors contributed to this epic baseline testing fail:

1) Drinking and staying up late: Enter March Madness and the fact that Syracuse was a 1 seed (no complaints there). Well the top seeds typically get prime time airtime, which means that their 1st round game tipped off at 9:55 pm. You know I'm not going to miss the game. And while we're at it, let's watch the game at a bar with some friends. Needless to say, Rebecca drove us home.

2) Lack of sleep: We didn't get home until about 12 am, but we still had a bunch of stuff to do at home to get ready for the next day, because we were volunteering at the National Marathon. Anyone who is familiar with the course, knows that most of the roads in DC are closed because of the race. Well that meant we'd have to metro in from some point. This also meant that we'd have to factor in more time. We were staffed at Mile 1 and were to report there by 6 am. We woke up at 4:30, which means we got a total of about 3 or so hours of sleep. Yikes!

3) Weather: Though I am not complaining, at the time, we hadn't had many warm days so far. So when the temperatures hit the upper 70s combined with sun, my body was in for a shock.

So what was the end result? I took down the numbers to record them, but they were so far off, it is almost embarrassing for me to post them, compared to my normal numbers, which I will be sharing in a future post. Here they are compared to my 1st baseline test, which was conducted in January:

January
- 140 bpm: 9:20/pace
- 150 bpm: 8:20/pace
- 160 bpm: 7:35/pace
- 170 bpm: 6:28/pace

March (influenced by all of the above factors)
- 140 bpm: 9:58/pace
- 150 bpm: 8:54/pace
- 160 bpm: 7:41/pace
- 170 bpm: 6:51/pace

Needless to say, the March numbers were not accurate. As evidenced by my numbers I've shared from other posts around the same time, my 140 bpm average was hanging just under 9:00/mile for nearly 14 miles, let alone a 1.5 mile jog, as was conducted in the baseline test.

What was funny to me was the fact that I felt so much better toward the end of the day (the feeling that I was no longer hung over), that I went out for an easy 4 mile jaunt just to shake things out. And guess what? My pace was 8:48 with a HR of 139. My body just needed about 12 hours to process and get rid of the alcohol. Lessons learned: Don't run hungover!

Stay tuned for a follow up post on my latest numbers which I took last weekend. With another race coming up on Sunday, this test will hopefully shed some light on what I hope to run.

1 comment:

Sean in DC said...

I never thought to do a baseline test like this with my HRM. I can see the value in comparing the numbers to the same test 1 or 2 months down the road, but is there any other analysis you can draw from them to influence how you approach your training?

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