Monday, October 27, 2008

19:02 or 15:30? Age and Weight Adjusted Racing

I entered my first race since 2004 where I have had a goal this past weekend - the Lupus Loop 5K in Philadelphia. My goal was to break 19 minutes - we have that as our qualifying time for Varsity on the Moorestown Cross Country team, something that 20 of the guys have achieved this year. I felt I was in shape to do around that, although I have not really done any speed work and little threshold work.

Well, I blew it. I ran 19:02, which was monumentally disappointing to me. I blew it in two ways. First, I kind of fell asleep in the middle of the race. Maybe it was trying to be conservative with the first fast race I have run in a long time. Maybe it was the Evil Mini-Bob on my shoulder telling me that it was just easier to go slower. Where I really blew it was the long straight finish. I thought I was going to make it no problem. There was a guy ahead of me, and I really do not like to showboat and blow by people in the last 400 meters. Anyway, I stayed just behind him and then with about 10-15 seconds of race left I realized I was not going to make it. A real bummer...

So I made two mental mistakes, but 30 years ago I could have run much faster. So the idea came to me to ask where did I lose it? Well, it is in three areas:
- Weight gain
- Age
- Training

Looking at weight gain, I have gone from about 135 pounds to about 155 pounds - or about 61 kilograms to 70 kilograms. If I reference back to Jack Daniels basic ideas of VDOT and VO2Max, I see that the 19:02 is roughly a 55 VDOT (there were some hills on the course). 55 * 70 kg = 3850 units of oxygen my body is able to process. If I then divide this by the 61 kg that I used to be, I found my VDOT would be about a 63. So my weight gain is worth about 8 VDOT points - if I check my chart, that translates into about a 17:00 5K. So by extralopation, if I lost 20 pounds and returned to my college running weight I would be able to run 17:00.

Next, I looked at the age factor. I used a website to help me understand this. It says my 19:02 would be worth about a 16:40 if I was not so darn old.

Now this makes me wonder how to add these two factors together. If I use the VDOT factor first, and translate the 17:00 time if I weighed 135 again, and then apply the age factor it drops me down to a 14:50. If I go the other way, and use the 16:40 time if I was in college again, that gives me a VDOT of 63. Add 8 VDOT points and it gives me a 71 age and weight adjusted VDOT - which would put me at around a 15:30. Hmm, I like the first method.

In reality, if I had run all out when I was in shape on that course in college, my guess is I would have done about 14:20-14:30. But I was not going all-out even in my current condition - so let's say I would have run around 15:00.

This analysis puts me around the right ballpark. But the third factor is a pretty big one. My conditioning is not nearly what it was. I was running 100 miles per week and doing some pretty hard workouts and races, while today I run about 25-30 miles per week and do not train hard. My resting hear rate was around 32-34 beats per minute and it is around 42-44 now as one example of not being in the same shape.

I think the error factor comes in the fact that the age based rankings probably take into account the fact that older guys weigh a bit more than younger guys. There is also the fact that there are multiple variables being used here, that are based on tables compiled on experience. So the numbers are bound to be a bit off.

Nonetheless, I am hoping this provides me with a bit of motivation to maybe lose a few pounds. And maybe train a bit more. It was fun to run kind of fast again (even with the extra baggage and years). Maybe I will try to find a 5K before the XC season ends and qualify for Varsity...

1 comment:

Fifty and Feeling It said...

Deal with it - you're an old fart.

- Your Loving Wife