Just before doing the NYC Tri I bought a new Garmin Tri-watch. As I mentioned before, it has a bunch of nifty features that are new to me, like a cadence monitor and a vertical displacement monitor. These two measures, turnover and bounce have turned out to be useful to watch while I run. My natural cadence seems to be about 170 footfalls per minute (85 steps). But, if I can take it up to 180, my bounce goes down, and everything gets a lot smoother. It also usually means I speed up, but I've also tried going slowly at a quick cadence and this turns out to be a pretty good drill. My better runs in the last few weeks have had me averaging 175 footfalls per minute. The difference is not in pace. I'm averaging about the same speed, but I feel less beat up at the end of the run. Perhaps because I'm "galumphing" a bit less.
More recently, I've discovered a couple of other toys buried in the new watch's programming. An estimated VO2 Max and a race predictor. My first instinct was to consider both of these features to be sort of BS. How can you measure VO2 max without, well, equipment. But here's the interesting thing. A few years ago -- the last time I was running well -- I went on line and looked at a few race predictors and an algorithm that estimated VO2 max based on race times and body weight.
Anyway, I remember that at the time, the race predictors pretty accurately matched my 5K time to my 10K time to my 1/2 marathon time. They also predicted a marathon of just under 3:30 (which is a white elephant of mine). As I recall, these same measurements generated an estimated VO2 max of 45ish. That's nothing to write home about. World class athletes measure up in the high 80s and low 90s.
Well, when I found the measurements, the watch had decided I was at 45 for my VO2 max, and was predicting times just a hair slower than what I used to be able to do. Hmm. that was encouraging.
A few long runs and a few days of speed work, and suddenly it is telling me that I've bumped up to 48, with predicted race times in line with my former PRs.
I will admit that I'm feeling better than I have in a couple of years, but these times still seem quite ambitious. On the other hand, I'll take any encouragement my watch chooses to offer me.
I guess my next measurement point is a club 10K in two weeks. I'll report back.