Friday, November 28, 2014

Analysis of Bike Performance - Comparison of Racing and Training Since 2006

This is the second of three posts were I will compare my training to my race performance.  I previously posted my swim analysis.

I have compiled my bike data since 2007, to look at my performance compared to my training time.  I have results for 2006, but no training data.  I did not start tracking training data until 2007, which is unfortunate, since it would be nice to have training data from the start to compare performance data from the start.

I compiled all the bike speed data (TT, triathlon, and duathlon) and put that in a table with bike training time data and total training time data.  The table and all charts below are data from October to October, except 2007 which is Jan-Sept, since I have no data from 2006.  At the end of the year I put out my calendar year training data.
Click on the table enlarge. 

Bike Data Table

My slowest bike speed for any given year does not vary much from year-to-year, until 2014. Slowest time, 2008, was from Escape from Alcatraz, very steep, hilly course. Also, I was probably doing too much sight-seeing while riding. In reality, my bike data does not vary much from 2010 to 2013.
In 2006, my average bike speed is about 19MPH. I basically flattened out after 2008, averaging about 21.5MPH.  After my injury in 2009, I also stopped paying for a coach in that year, I have not shown much improvement since then, until 2014.  I improved from 2006 to 2008. During that time the volume and intensity went up dramatically.

 If you look at the data, I can train about 90+hours over the 12 month period, at the effort I am putting in, and stay consistent.  The three years that I trained, and raced, the most 2008, 2010, and 2011, I had the fastest bike.  2008 had less bike than the other two, but it had a lot more running and swimming. From Oct 2013 to Oct 2014, I put in over a 100 hours on the bike, the most I have put in since 2011.  It was my goal to put over 10 hours of bike training in a month from January through May of 2014.  I was able to average over 10 hours a month through that time period, Jan-March were over 10 hours and April and May were a little under 10 hours.  I was spending it at home on the trainer or at spin classes.  It appears to have paid off.  I had my highest average speed since 2008, I had my highest average triathlon speed, my fastest slowest speed, and one of my smallest ranges, except 2008, that I have ever had.

Interesting to note, in 2006 I was riding a Lemond Sarthe road bike with clip-on aero bars and no race wheels.  Starting in 2007, I raced with a tri-bike and race wheels.  Also, 2006 is duathlons and TTs, no triathlons.

I still am not able to get over the 23MPH "hump".  My goal was to average 23.5MPH over a 10+mile course, either triathlon, duathlon, or TT.  It has been my goal for a number of years.  There are three years I have gone over 23MPH, 2008, 2010, and 2011.  2010 and 2011 are two years where spent the most time on the bike.  Related?  They are also two years I raced, especially 2010, a lot.  

Select any of the tables below to enlarge.

Total Bike Training Time Compared to Average Bike Race Speed

Total Bike Training Time Compared to Fastest Bike Speed

Total Training Time Compared to Average Bike Race Speed

Total Training Time Compared to Fastest Bike Speed

The outlier at the bottom of each plot, low average and fastest, even with high bike and training time, is the year I had a stress fracture and don't have many data points to contribute.  Also, a lot of biking was easy, even though there was a lot of time on the bike.
When comparing my total training time, or bike training time, to average or fastest, the data points trend the same.  So, no real correlation between the two, or they are directly correlated, but there does not appear to be a negative correlation between my total training time and bike speed.
I think that I have shown with my ramp up in time and intensity, that I can get a bike improvement.  After a number of years where I have been flat, the bump up this year showed improvement.
As long as I am doing only Duathlons, Sprint triathlons, and Olympic distance triathlons I can stick to the 70-100 hours.  If I do a 70.3, or longer (IM not going to happen), I would need to increase my training time.  If I decide I am going to do a 70.3, I am going to have to increase bike time and intensity, the same for run (of course) well above 100 hours.
In 2015, I would like to keep about the same amount of time, averaging over 10 hours from Jan - May, but keep a higher intensity.  If I decided to do a 70.3 in 2015, I think I need to look at averaging over 12 hours a month, and I would have to maintain that up to the month before the 70.3.
If I would like to be competitive (not sure how realistic that is) in my AG, and into the 44-49 AG, I am going to have to keep working on the bike.  It seems that guys between 40-49 are pretty fast on the bike.  As always, the trick if finding balance between all three.
As the two sayings I have heard many times go "You have to train faster to race faster" and "The only way to get faster on the bike is to spend more time on the bike" appear to hold true, yet again.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Analysis of Swim Performance Since 2006 - Comparison of Training to Race Results

I (re)started swimming in 2007, after not swimming since high school. I did duathlons in 2006 and then decided to try triathlons in 2007, so I started swimming in March 2007. 

I hired a coach in 2008 and he planned swim workouts that I did on my own, typically 3 days a week. I started Masters in early 2009, typically 3 days a week.  You can see significant yardage jumps from 2007 to 2008, and I have more or less maintained that yardage since then.  Something of a spike in 2009 and 2010, when I swam more due to my stress fracture.  2011 to 2014 has been pretty much the same yardage in the Oct-Oct time frame, with a spike in 2014 from the previous years.

In 2013, I continue to swim in the same pool I have swam in since 2009, but with a new Master's coach.  In 2014, I continued in the same pool with the same coach.  I would say the new program I am swimming under, since 2013, is much more focused on technique,  but even more on kicking, and speed work.  I think it is starting to show.

I have shown improvement with time, but more or less flattened out, until this year.  Since the swim distance on swim courses is somewhat suspect, it is hard to determine really how fast you are going.  The only true test of improvement and how fast you are is in the pool, with a certified distance and controlled conditions.  Some of the swims in triathlons have the timing mat immediately out of the water, some you have a decent run up before you get to it, so that is added into your time. 
I do know that when I started in 2006, it was 2+ minutes for 100s in a set.  Now I am more in the area of 1:20-1:30, sometimes faster.

Below is the data table.  The table in the charts are data from October to October.  My times in the table and the charts are in seconds/100yards because it is easier to plot.  The unusually fast time in 2011 is the Twin Cities Triathlon swim in the Mississippi.  In 2009, I only did two races, the reason for the narrow range, one was a relay triathlon and one was a sprint triathlon, where I walked the run.
There is a huge jump in yardage and time as I go from swimming on my own, to getting coached workouts, to going to Masters, and my race pace improves, and then my pace flattens out.  Basically, my average pace is flat from 2010 to 2014.  I know, for sure, I have gotten faster in the pool over the last few years, especially the last couple of years..  It had not translated to my open water swimming until this year.  This year not only do I think I trained harder, not doing more yardage but tougher practice, but I was more aggressive in races.  I think that helped a lot.

All the data plotted\charted below goes from the previous Oct-Dec through Jan-Oct of the year.
Since pace is plotted in secs/100 yards, the lower the better.  Oct-Dec of 2013, I swam more than I had in the previous couple of "offseason" time periods.  I actually swam less Jan-Sept of this year than I did in 2013, actually it was my lowest average yardage for this time period since 2008.  Again, I would argue I swam a bit harder this year, both in races and in practice.  I think another thing that I did this year that helped me to race faster, overall, was timing my rest before races much better, and doing my recovery much better.  My understanding is that I will need to do this better, and more often, as I get older.  Sigh.  It is interesting to note that the range between my fastest and slowest pace is much narrower than any previous year, except the year where I only swim twice (that doesn't count).  Looking at the data plotted, I often wonder where diminishing returns occurs with swim time and yardage.  I have such a clump of data on the right side, and then the one data point on the left side, and that one data point represents a time when I was less fit.  I am sure I could knock off 10 hours or so a year, and be ok.  Decreasing time\yardage during the season, more rest\recovery, would probably be the best.

In the 2015 season, I would like to remain about where I was in 2014, in terms of time and yardage.  I am not sure I will have the time to devote to more swimming.  Based on my non-scientific data, but a number of years of experience, I think there is a point where you hit a certain number of yards per year, time in the pool, that is sufficient for whatever type of race you are doing.  Then it comes down to how you spend that time, improving stroke and speed.  I think when you are starting out, first you need to build up to a certain number of yards and maintain those yards, and condition yourself, get comfortable swimming, and then you start to develop more overall speed.

I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times, and I will say it again.  As a beginning triathlete, the best thing you can do is swim a lot and get conditioned in the swim.  I have heard/seen, so many beginning triathletes say they will just "get through the swim", barely do any swim training, do all bike and run, and then get to race day and have a bad/horrible swim, and up having the rest of the race be difficult because of it.  When the swim is comfortable, in the sense you can do it and it is not stressful, and you are conditioned for it, the whole race is "easier".  This year I had my fastest year in triathlon, and my fastest swims, there is probably some relation between the two.

Swim Data Table

Comparison of Total Hours Swam to Average Triathlon Swim Pace


Comparison of Total Yards Swam to Average Triathlon Swim Pace

Comparison of Total Time Training to Average Triathlon Swim Pace

Comparison of Total Hours Swam to Fastest Race Pace

Comparison of Total Yards Swam to Fastest Race Pace

Saturday, November 15, 2014

October 2014 Racing and Training Summary

October was a little odd, because the Dousman Duathlon was moved from the middle of September to the beginning of October, which changed my training a little.  As I noted in a previous post, that race was difficult (cold and wet), but rewarding (first AG podium (1st place) in a duathlon). 

Also, I did the final two Salomon Trail Races of the year.  These were a little disappointing.  Last year I got progressively faster each race on a difficult course.  This year there were two different courses, first two races on a longer, more difficult, course.  Second two on a shorter, and what I thought, was an easier course.  The second time on each course I was faster than the first, but I was slower, pace wise, on the shorter course.  I was hoping to be faster.  Maybe just getting fatigued at the end of the season?
Below are results for all four races:
9/3 - 4.18 miles = 36:00  (8:37/mi)
9/17 - 4.18 miles = 34:11 (8:11/mi)
10/1 - 3.5 miles = 28:52 (8:14/mi)
10/15 - 3.5 miles = 28:34 (8:10/mi)

I was a little bit above average for the bike and run in October.  I am trying to keep my bike time up a little bit, so that when I go to increase my time, in Dec or Jan, it isn't such a shock to my system.  Backed off on the swim a little bit.  Getting up early to swim is getting harder and harder every year, especially when the weather is cold and the season is over.  I imagine my swim time will be down  in November and December.  The good thing is, if I back off on swimming a little bit, and then ramp back up, my speed (what passes for speed) usually comes back pretty fast.  It is not like running or biking that seem to take longer when you take time off, especially running.  Currently, I am taking the first two weeks, or so, of November, off of running.  I will try to ease back into it.  I think my body needs a little break from running.
Below are the usual tables, comparison of Octobers, YTD,  and totals and averages since 2007.

Comparison of Octobers from Year-to-Year

Totals Since 2007 and Averages

YTD Totals and Since 2007


Thursday, November 6, 2014

2014 Triathlon Summary and Review of Years Past (Charts and Tables!)

My triathlon season is over.  It has been almost two months now.  Time to take a look back on this year and do a little comparison to years past.

This was the fastest year I have ever had.  Ever. Fastest year by far. The charts below show it graphically.

Normally, I would name my best race of the year, in terms of feeling good and going fast, but it is hard to do, because I had so many races that felt good and I went fast, fast for me.  St. Anthony's was a PR, by over 5 minutes, and qualified me for USAT AG Nationals.  It was my first time doing Buffalo Olympic and I had a much better race, especially the run, than I thought I would have.  Lake Minnetonka was a PR.  Manitou Sprint was a PR on a broken spoke and a I could not get my left foot in my pedal. Lake Waconia was not a PR, but it was my fastest time there in years and my second fastest time ever. Heart of the Lakes was a PR.  USAT AG Nationals was my first time going under two and a half hours in an Olympic distance race, it was my fastest 10k in a race, it was great day, and a great race. Maple Grove was also a PR, and a great run.  The only two races that weren't that great, but still really good were Graniteman-Clearwater, bad run, but first out of the water and very good bike, and Lake Marion, another not-so-great run.

All my results for 2014 triathlons are below.  Click on table to enlarge

2014 Triathlon Results

2014 Average Swim Distance and Average Pace = 1129.4 yards and 1:34/100 yards
2014 Average T1 Time = 2:45
2014 Average Bike Distance and Average Bike Speed = 20.01 miles and 21.99MPH
2014 Average T2 Time = 1:18
2014 Average Run Distance and Average Pace = 4.64 miles and 7:54/mi
2014 Average Triathlon Distance and Average Pace (=Total Dist/Total Time) = 25.28 miles and 4:27/mi 
2014 Average Overall Place and Average AG Place = 212 of 693 for overall and 28 of 62 for AG

All the paces\speed above are my fastest averages I have ever had.

Below are charts that compare my average speed/pace/time for each area of triathlon by year.  Below the charts is a table that contains all the data.  The times are averages of my Sprint and Olympic distance races, no half-im distances are included.
Basically, I got faster after 2007, then I missed 2009 with injury, improved a bit in 2010, then kind of leveled off, and in some cases got slower, like the run, and now I have gotten faster again in 2014.
My increase in performance from 2007 to 2008 was probably due to the large increase in training time, coaching, and weight loss.
I think getting better this year was due to losing about 10 pounds, after not losing weight (basically flat) for a few years, focusing on the bike earlier in the year (started increase time and intensity in December), and doing more speed interval workout, for longer time periods, for the run.

Comparison of Average Swim Pace (Lower is Better)

Comparison of Average Bike Speed (Higher is Better)

Comparison of Average Run Pace (Lower is Better)

Comparison of Average T1 and T2 (Lower is Better)

Comparison of Average Pace (Total Race Time Divided by Total Race Distance, Lower is Better)

I have basically been flat year over year, since my injury in 2009.  This makes sense, because my training has basically been flat, see below where I list the total time and time spent on each by year.  By flat I mean, I am putting nearly the same amount of time and effort, so why would I get better. 
This year, things dramatically improved.  My average swim improved by ~10 seconds per 100 yards and is my fastest average, my average bike is the more than half a mile per hour faster than last year and my fastest average, and my run average is almost 20 seconds faster than last year and my fastest average.  
The time I spend in the pool is down, but I am swimming faster, and more, at Masters.  My total bike time was 17 hours greater than either of the last two years and the most since 2011.  My run time was about the same as the last two years, but I was much more focused on speed work, rather than just getting run time in.  I think the combination of getting more bike time in and very specific speed work with the run helped greatly.  Table includes averages and standard deviation.
Below is the time spent swimming, biking, running, in hours, each year up from January through September of that year.  Parenthesis is order of time spent swim, bike, run.
Total Time 2007 = 95 hours (27, 31, 37)
Total Time 2008 = 253.5 hours (80, 89.5, 84 )
Total Time 2009 = 201 hours (93, 83, 25)
Total Time 2010 = 236.5 hours (89.5, 106, 41)
Total Time 2011 = 228.5 hours (78, 102.5, 48)
Total Time 2012 = 189 hours (77, 69, 43)
Total Time 2013 = 188.5 hours (77, 68, 43.5)
Total Time 2014 = 198.5 hours (69.8, 85.3, 43.4)

My time spent (Jan - Sept) in 2013 and 2013 are almost identical, with a total of 10 more hours spent this year.  I definitely put in more running effort, harder run workouts, this year than last year.  My time spent on the bike went up dramatically this year over 2012 and 2013.  I really, really need to fix the amount of time I spent on the bike, I did that and my bike improved, along with my run.  Bike time in 2010 was so high because I did two half-IMs.  What is not seen here is the time I spent on the bike in December of 2013, which I think helped my bike a lot.
Later this year, or early next year, I will have a few posts that compare my workout time, total and each discipline, to my performance.  I have put similar posts up in previous years.  That data is for Oct-Oct, and it is usually pretty revealing. 
There are a lot of other factors besides training time, weight, nutrition, race conditions, etc. but I think this is one way, more quantifiable than some of the others, to look at performance.
I don't yet have a plan for next year.  My hope would be to increase my bike time, and intensity, and to do a little more distance running.  There is a part of me that wants to do a half-IM in 2015, to do that I am going to have to increase my bike and run time.
I don't think I can emphasize enough how happy I am with how well I did this year.  It is so fulfilling to put in a lot of work, and see improvement.  Measureable improvement.  It doesn't always happen in life.  I think it is even more rewarding because it is happening as I get older, and in my 40th year.