Runners whose goal is just to finish a marathon only need a very simple training tool. It’s a check list.
“Did I do my long run this weekend, yes or no?”
But if you’re training for a marathon with a different goal in mind – like qualifying for Boston – your training plan will be more complex. And that means you’ll need better analysis tools, too.
Two Simple Steps to Analyze Your Last Tempo Run
GraphMyRun.com is a website that’s easy-to-use yet provides the kind of analysis that can help you complete your marathon training plan successfully.
For example, many advanced training plans call for “tempo runs” to build your muscles’ resistance to fatigue. After a tempo run a couple of things that you’ll want to know are: “Did I hit my tempo pace?” and “How much of my run was spent in the tempo zone?” Because if you didn’t hit your goals, you’ll need that feedback to modify how you run your next tempo workout. Here’s how to figure out those two pieces of information using GraphMyRun.com
First, you’ll need to personalize GraphMyRun so that it will know your pace zones. Navigate to the Customize tab to enter your information.
If you already know your pace zones, you can enter them directly. Otherwise, enter a recent race and GraphMyRun.com will calculate your paces zones for you.
Now go to the Graph tab. Click on the Choose File button and select your tempo run file. GraphMyRun will create a graph showing your pace versus distance with a linked elevation chart. If you have heart rate or cadence data in your file, it will show those, too. Smooth your data with the Smoothing Button if you wish.
Figuring out your average pace during your tempo portion of your run is easy. Click and drag on the graph to zoom-in on just your tempo section. (In the graph above, the tempo segment is between miles 1 and 5.)
GraphMyRun will automatically re-scale the axes and re-calculate the average pace – using just the data you selected! In the screenshot below, the average pace is 6:59 min/mile. Step 1 is complete. You now know your average pace of the tempo segment of your run.
Step two is even simpler. Click on the Zones tab. Your running data will be carried forward and GraphMyRun will draw a chart showing the time spent in each of the four zones. Mouse over the tempo wedge in the chart to find out the percentage of your time spent in that zone. (The accompanying table has both the time and distance spent in each zone.)
Use the information from these two steps to fine tune your next tempo run. What if you hit your pace on the Graphs tab but are showing too little time in the Zones chart? That means you’re probably alternating between running a little too fast and then a little too slow. That may average out to the correct tempo pace overall, but you’re not getting the benefit of a true tempo run. Try to run an even pace next time.
To help with evening out your pace, just scroll down to the color-coded pace versus distance graph on the Zones tab. This will show you how your paces are distributed during your run. This easy-to-understand feedback will tell you if you’re starting out too fast early in the tempo segment and then slowing down.
That’s just one way to use the advanced analysis tools of www.GraphMyRun.com to help you train better. The website is 100% free, is simple to use, and certified malware free.
Philip Miller has been running for over 25 years. He initially wrote GraphMyRun.com for his own use but is now making it available to the entire running community.