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Ironman Pacing, Part II
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younggun




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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 5:39 pm    Post subject: Ironman Pacing, Part II Reply with quote

It’s June and the main European IM season is upon us. So I thought it might be a good time to revisit IM pacing as a topic. This is intended as a thought starter – I’d be interested to hear other’s opinion on this topic.

Here’s a different angle on my previous thread. In that thread I suggested that in a well paced race you ride the bike so that you can access your running fitness – i.e. you can run properly – if you are really suffering on the run then you will lose a helluva lot of time, more than you ever gained on the bike.

I’m going to try and visually show how such a well paced race might feel. I’m also suggesting that the fastest way to complete the race is with even pacing on each leg – i.e. constant swim pace, constant power output on bike, constant running pace (assuming flat). An IM is such a long race that it’s incredible how different the same speed can feel at different points in the race.

I’m making this argument for anyone “going for a time” – perhaps something in the 8 to 13 hour range. If you are just hoping to survive then this may not be so relevant but hopefully still interesting. Fib 1a. shows the pace our athlete is going at, optimum race pace for he/she is 1:43/100m, 150 watts, 8 min/mile on this hypothetical flat course. Since the pace is perfectly even the pace line is flat. This gives our athlete a very solid 10:40 race. I could have put this together for anyone in the 8 to 13 hour range but chose this pace as it’s roughly middle ground.

Fig 1b. is my estimation of how this pace feels in terms of effort. I’ve made up this scale of perceived effort on the Y axis – it’s not at all scientific, but hopefully you’ll see what I’m getting at. It ranges from "barely trying" to "flat out and dying". Obviously perceived effort is going to be effected by many things (e.g. crowds cheering) and you are also going to have some good and bad patches on the way but this should be the trend.

In some ways it’s dangerous to draw this perceived effort line, and what I’ve done sure isn’t gospel, but if it gets you to think about how the race should feel then that’s great.



I want to describe those 4 circled periods :

(A) Out on the beginning of the bike, completely fresh you feel amazing. At this optimum pace it barely feels like you’re touching the pedals. Lots of other athletes are overtaking you.

(B) At that same pace the effort has gradually built and now you are working pretty hard in the last hour of the bike. Revenge time you are passing loads of athletes.

(C) Out on the run you are feeling some fatigue but you are still able to run well. Although you feel like you are holding back a couple of gears you are still passing loads of people. The effort builds and by 13 miles you are working properly.

(D) You’re in the last hour and now things are really getting tough. Still holding 8’ miles you are pushing deeper and deeper into hurt territory. You’re still passing athletes and you just manage to keep it going to the finish line.

Obviously this is a flat course and a hilly or windy course may effect things slightly. But I’m arguing if you deviate too far from that line then you’re going to end up with problems on the run.
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Last edited by younggun on Sat Jun 03, 2006 8:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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younggun




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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, the obvious question is what does it look like if you overcook it. I’ve drawn just such a line (the red dashed one) in Figs 2a & 2b.



I’m not going to describe how this hurts as quite likely you’ve been there – except to say that the end of the bike starts to really get v.tough at 80 miles forcing you to slow down and the run really is a struggle, slowing all the way through. You are also can’t attain the same levels of hurt at the end of the run because you’ve been hurting for too long and are finding it a real struggle. Probably half the IM field race like this, maybe more.

Yey, 1000 posts…

Adam
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Last edited by younggun on Sat Jun 03, 2006 8:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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wilbur4s




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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh my god....I UNDERSTOOD ONE OF YOUR WORDY POSTS!!!!!!! (sorry didn't mean to shout there!)

Makes sense to me, however as useful to me now as a condom! Very Happy
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AndyS




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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

younggun wrote:
Yey, 1000 posts…


Congratulations. Smile

Very interesting stuff and I thank you for it. I refer to the first graph quite a lot and thank you for that as well. It’s kept my grey cells busy for ages.

Your graphs would be perfect for someone with a power meter. It suggests you'd keep the same level of power output all the way though and let your HR/effort levels rise as you fatigue, at 150 watts in this case. HD has suggested this many times. But in real life, on the day and without a power meter how do I pace myself? Leaving aside the clichés such as ‘if it feels to fast you’re going to fast – if it feels about right you’re still going to fast’ which is highly subjective.

If I start the bike leg with a HR around 145bpm (mid Z2), which is pretty easy going in the greater scheme of things should I let my HR rise to what? Your graph says to let the effort rise to ‘pushing it’. What’s that? How much HR drift should I expect, a few bpm or a few 10's of bpm?

I know I’m asking things that I should get tested to get the correct answer (and I’m certainly aiming to get tested as I taper down) but starting the bike leg at ‘barely trying’ and rising to ‘pushing it’ means many things to different people and usually back fires on me as I end up going to easy.
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doug




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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A worthy 1000th post Worship

I can't really comment as I've only done one IM and it was not a perfectly paced IM. I took the swim steady pretty much all the way. Started too hard on the bike but quickly got myself under control and did a pretty steady effort for the rest of it (it was hilly so difficult to pace evenly, there were bits that were in the pushing it). I started the run very easy as I had tummy troubles, but by about mile 3 that passsed and I upped the effort to steady, it felt like steady for the rest of the way, but my 2nd half marathon was 10 mins slower than the 1st, but that was mainly due to walk more at the aid stations, 2 pee breaks (none in the 1st half) and Babylon Hill Twisted Evil

I only really pushed it on the run for the last mile. The comment by the catcher at the finish line was that I looked fresh and it was like I had just been out for an easy jog...

Looking back I would have swam the same, started easier on the bike and pushed the last half of the run as I had plenty left in the tank. I thnk that would pretty much look like your ideal IM RPE.
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younggun




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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AndyS wrote:
But in real life, on the day and without a power meter how do I pace myself?
Well, it's not easy - if I had a magic method I'd make a fortune. Only experience can really tell you but I would look at it like this:

AndyS wrote:
If I start the bike leg with a HR around 145bpm (mid Z2), which is pretty easy going in the greater scheme of things should I let my HR rise to what? Your graph says to let the effort rise to ‘pushing it’. What’s that? How much HR drift should I expect, a few bpm or a few 10's of bpm?
The first thing is that your hrate should not rise any where near as much as your perceived effort. If you look after yourself in the race then the only reason that hrate should rise at constant watts is cardiac drift, so I would expect 5 to 10 beats over the ride. Some people experience more c-drift than that but you should have an idea from training?

I think the only way is to do a simulation ride in training and see how you feel after. This doesn't have to be 112, but probably at least 80-90 miles. This is a surprisingly tough session without race motivation. I would rest up a few days in training about 4 weeks before the race. Find a loop that is similar terrain to the race, and timetrial setting to hrate (mid Z2 sounds about right to me) gradually dial in a 5 beat rise by the end. Then see how you feel by the end and how it feel to run after.

In the race proper your hrate can be effected by the transition and high levels of stimulation, but after 30 minutes of riding should settle down. This is where a power meter really comes in really handy but with some race experience you can do a pretty good job without one if you remain disciplined. If you decided on mid Z2 as a starting point after your race sim ride then I would cap to that +5 in the race for the first 30 minutes. Maybe +10 on short hills if there aren't many of them. By 50 miles of the ride you'll be in a much better position to "feel" the right pace. After 70 miles I would ignore hrate and do everything on feel.

With all the work you've done I really doubt you'll go too easy this time Andy.

I wish I could make it easy, but I can't.

Adam
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Last edited by younggun on Thu Jun 01, 2006 7:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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younggun




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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

doug wrote:
Looking back I would have swam the same, started easier on the bike and pushed the last half of the run as I had plenty left in the tank. I thnk that would pretty much look like your ideal IM RPE.
Indeed, that sounds about right.

This sort of pacing is not any easy way out - it really hurts in the last couple of hours. And the point is you can go deeper because you still have something left.
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runningboy




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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is intresting cos at sherbourne last year I was more like fig1 and this year at lanazorate it ended up more closely to fig 2 just need to figure out on a windy hilly course how to get to fig 1 again.
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younggun




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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andy, here's something else.

When you've ridden with a power meter for a while you can quite accurately predict watts when riding. It's not perceived effort in terms of pain or breathing or hrate - all are too slow to react. But you can feel the force being passed from your feet to the pedals. As you ride try and isolate how hard you are pressing with the sole of your feet and how much you are lifting on the upstroke, just the force, nothing else. That is what corresponds to power, and you can feel it in a race - the trick is to ignore tradiitonal feelings of "effort" as it feels far too easy to begin with.

A
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AndyS




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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

younggun wrote:
... But you can feel the force being passed from your feet to the pedals... That is what corresponds to power, and you can feel it in a race


Thanks, I'll pay attention to that next time I'm out. It's quite difficult to find anywhere flatish around here but I'll still give it a go. So far I've done the ride where I went out like a loon and blew up at 80 miles so I know what that pace feels like. I've deliberately gone out to fast for the first 25 miles then eased back into race pace, that felt OK but tired at the end. Next is to go out at a sensible pace and speed up at the end. After that it's the 100m TT which will hopefully bring together what I've learnt.

All good fun and very interesting.
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Paul L




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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Adam, as always it is a pleasure reading one of your posts. Cool

Apart from your shameless padding from earlier on in the day Rolling Eyes Wink

But aren't you supposed to be lying down in a darken room listing to classical music?

Hope all is well, Paul. Very Happy
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Swim Smooth




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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Adam

This is great work mate, I like it a lot. Very visual and easy to understand. Having not yet completed an Ironman myself (I'm starting a 26 week program on Monday though for Ironman WA!) I cannot comment on whether this is accurate or not, but I don't think that is really the point...its a theory and it spells it out like it is (or should be) which I think is spot on. Having done loads of OD and the occassional HIM I can symapthise with the pacing issues even in those shorter distance races, which is one of the reasons I'm keen on setting myself up with a powermeter to help this on the bike. On a race like Florida or Ironman WA (with 1m of elevation across the entire 180km!) this theory would be great to test out.

Thanks for sharing these ideas,

Paul
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hdavies




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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 9:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

younggun wrote:
Andy, here's something else.

When you've ridden with a power meter for a while you can quite accurately predict watts when riding. It's not perceived effort in terms of pain or breathing or hrate - all are too slow to react. But you can feel the force being passed from your feet to the pedals. As you ride try and isolate how hard you are pressing with the sole of your feet and how much you are lifting on the upstroke, just the force, nothing else. That is what corresponds to power, and you can feel it in a race - the trick is to ignore tradiitonal feelings of "effort" as it feels far too easy to begin with.

A


I am now riding without power and just on HR.

In the Anfield 100m TT last monday, my 25 mile splits were as follows

58.40
1.00.30
1.00.25
1.00.50

In the first 25 the course was a little quicker but the rest was undulating and windy.

From 80 miles on i tried to bury it, and was flat out. Somewhat surprised to see the time over the hour but hey ho.
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SydneyPom




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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now having the benefit of power (and I might be missing this having not searched...) but what are your thoughts on power output for IM? My Maxlass / CP60 etc are around 235watts (rubbish for someone of nearly 90kgs!) so there's no way I could keep HD's outputs up and then by vertical at the end of a bike, let alone run a marathon and I would guess I wouldn't be able to even get close to as high a %'ge of his MAXLASS as he does. Thoughts?

I'll probably take the advice and do a TT century but would like an idea of where to start it because I don't want to have to do too many!
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james b




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PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 11:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All sounds reasonable to me. I will try and drum it into my thick skull before july...

James
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