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Running data provides race-day assurance

Posted by Matt Pepin, BostonGlobe.com Staff  April 10, 2012 07:00 AM

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100marcus_grimm.jpg Marcus Grimm is one of five Boston Marathon entrants testing the Polar RCX5 personal training computer and blogging about it for Boston.com
With only one week to go before the Boston Marathon, my marathonerís obsessions switch from whatís on the calendar for tomorrowís workout to looking for validation from what Iíve done this past season or, in this case, even further back than that.

Iíve been logging my workouts for the past five years at RunningAhead.com. RunningAhead allows you to manually import your data, or import files from Garmin or Polar.

During this experiment using the Polar RCX5, Iíve become a huge fan of PolarPersonalTrainer.com and found it to be comparable to RunningAhead in most ways, and a bit superior for those who actively monitor heart rate.

But this post isnít about comparing the two websites. Instead, Iíd like to show whatís possible with either, once youíve done the hard work of running the miles.

When Iím looking for validation in my workouts, I first like to see my total miles in the months immediately leading up to the race. If we look at my total distance per month over the past four years, the best thing to note is that Iím on a streak of four months during which three months were more than 200 miles and the 4th was 195. My previous best included 3 months of that much distance, which resulted in a 50-mile finish and a 3:17:30 BQ marathon. You can view the graph here.

But an interesting thing I did was to also swap the data around and view the average pace of all of my runs during the same period. I should note that this is a bit riskier view. For starters, each summer shows a predictable slowdown, when the hot, humid days inevitably force pace slower. Moreover, this view doesnít help discourage the idea of slow recovery runs, which I do think are very important. Still, when youíre getting ready to toe the line at Boston, data that shows youíre getting faster is reassuring, and when we look at this graph, thatís exactly what it shows: a runner who, on paper, appears poised to PR.

Of course, they donít hand out finisherís medals for what you think before the race, which is why all thatís left is to toe the line in Boston.

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Look for updates, news, analysis and commentary from the following.
  • Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
  • Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
  • Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes

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