Saturday, October 11, 2008

Running Blind...

Yesterday, when I was preparing to go out for my afternoon ride the band on my running computer broke off. Unfortunately, as Polar doesn't use a standard band retention mechanism, however, it appears that the only way to get this fixed is to send it back to them. It's still under warantee, however as their closest service center is in Quebec, it is likely to take at least a week to get it back. Further complicating things was that this happened at 4:30pm before a long weekend, so I'm going to have to wait until Tuesday to start the process. This, in turn, means that I'll have to do my running sessions for the next little while with no pacing or heart rate information.

I've had my Polar RS800sd for almost a year and, as such, have always used it since I began running seriously (I bought it for my walking regime first). My instinct is unfortunately to run faster than I should, and the pacing feedback provided by the watch has been a critical part of reigning myself in. Since I'm an Engineer, I tend to have an analytical approach to most things, so monitoring what I'm doing during the run and looking over the telemetry after the fact is an important component of my training.

Either way, things are as they are and I don't have a lot of options at this juncture but to run the old fashioned way. As such, I headed out this morning with nothing but a normal watch and a pre-planned route with a few waypoints memorized (1K,2K,3K,5K,10K,13K & 14K). While I was originally planning on simply doing an 8K run this morning, with Thanskgiving stuff tomorrow I realized that it would make more sense to push the long run up to today. This was naturally going to be tricky, as LSD runs are the slowest ones that I normally do and, as such, need the most self-control to stay at pace.

I hit the 1K waypoint about 10 seconds slower than the 5min/km pace I was targeting, largely because I was overcompensating a bit ;) At 2K, I was about 5 seconds slower than target but I managed to get to the right pace by the time I hit 3K. At this point I had a relatively good feel for the pace, so I was feeling a lot more confident in my ability to handle this run on my own.

After about the 4K mark (not sure about time here as I didn't memorize its exact position), there is a downhill section that I picked up a little speed on. As such, I hit the 5K mark at almost exactly 25 minutes into the run - about 7sec/km faster than planned, but making up for the lost time at the start of the run. My body would eventually lock onto this pace, however, as I averaged the next 5K segment at this speed (hitting the 10K mark at 49:30).

In the final segment, everything was feeling good and once I finished the last serious uphill segment I let myself accelerate a little more. As such, I hit the 13K mark at 1:03:58 (averaging a 4:49 pace from 10-13K). With only a kilometer to go, I picked things up a bit more and hit the 14K mark at 1:08:34 - about a minute and a half faster than planned. The final segment had an average pace of 4:36min/km, although a lot of that was thanks to a hard push for the final 400-500m (no idea how fast).

Either way, the overall pace for the run was 4:53min/km which was much better than I had expected. I certainly would much rather have instrumentation on my runs, but it is good to know that I've developed my feeling for pace well enough that I can keep it in the ballpark on my own. It remains to be seen how I can handle the other runs, however this run definitely increased my confidence in my pacing abilities.

As for what to do at this juncture, I'm flirting with the idea of grabbing one of the new RS800CX units and then selling the RS800sd when it comes back. The new version is basically the same watch, however it supports the cycling specific sensors (speed and cadence) which would save me from having to buy another device for logging telemetry on the bike. Alternately, I could buy a Garmin Forerunner 205 for relatively little right now so that I had a backup device in case this ever happened again. Most likely, however, I'll just tough this week out without it and get back to my routine when it comes back.

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