5K run test nailed: 37 vDOT

I did my run test yesterday, and it was about as good as it gets…well, not so much for the speed, which still needs work, but for the actual test itself 🙂

I felt smooth all the way through, and although my right quad was starting to sing with 5 minutes to go…and I knew that I’d feel it the next day…nothing traumatic through the end…I didn’t leave much on the table.

12.5 laps on local 400M track = exactly 5K (kilometers), so 4 laps = virtually 1 mile (1600 Meters / 1750 yards / .994 miles ) …1 mile is 1760 yards.

I clicked the lap timer, every 4 laps, so the time and average heart rates were:

#1: 8:12, 145HR avg, 149HR max (8:15/mile)
#2: 8:11, 152HR avg, 154HR max (8:14/mile)
#3: 8:06, 155HR avg, 158HR max (8:09/mile)
last 200 meters: :58, 157HR avg, 158HR max (7:47/mile)

So I had it cranked up to the top, and still eked out a negative split run (ended faster than I started)…here’s how it looked from the Heart Rate monitor..highlighted section the test…heart rate in red, speed in blue:

My pacing was eerily consistent, and almost exactly what I thought it might be in a Post that I wrote a month ago on December 9, 2010, after a 27:00, 5K sub-maximal run during a workout on a rolling hill course…I had said:

…so maybe a minute faster I’d say in an all-out test on a flat course, so 26:00 would give me a 36 vDOT, or maybe even a 25:30, for a 37 vDOT


I used this prediction as the basis for my initial pacing in the test yesterday, and ended up with the 5K at 25:28…at an average pace of 8:12 per mile…and a 37 vDOT (actually 37.5 since 25:46 is a 37, and 25:12 is a 38)

…and since I run in an area that’s all hills all the time, my running Lactate Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR) is particularly important since pace doesn’t stay constant going up and down hills

…a general testing protocol to establish a running LTHR is to take the average Heart Rate in the last 20 minutes of a 30 minute maximal test. Although I was specifically testing for pace/vDOT in this test yesterday, we can approximate my LTHR by taking the average HR for the entire test (151HR), and then for the last 2.1 miles (154HR), and see that my LTHR is probably between 151-154HR, which is 95-97% of my maximum 158HR for the day.  That tells me that my legs, not used to fast running for quite some time now, may have given out a bit before the heart…that, my friends, is a good thing 🙂

vDOT explained in more detail in a prior Post:

and what vDOT means to training and race pacing:

So what does this all mean

Well, to get it out of the way, I’m definitely slower than I was 5 years ago.  I’ve done very little speed work in the last few years…particularly since the knee started to act up a couple of years ago…and it shows.  In 2005, the last year that I was focusing on marathons, and the first year that I started triathlons, my 10K speed was 7:35 – 7:40/mile, as recorded on Oct. 15 (163HR max), and Nov. 26 (158HR max)…this would have given me almost a 44 vDOT…not likely to see those days again.

Fast forward to today…to meet my race goals for Ironman Florida this year, I predicted that by race day I would need a bare minimum vDOT of 38, and a preferred vDOT of 41 to leave a bit of room…so by those standards I’m in pretty good shape to get into that range, all other things being equal.

Jack Daniels, the developer of the vDOT concept, says that you should be able to raise your vDOT 1 point every 4-6 weeks if all is going well and your workouts seem to be getting easier…this means that by the time that I test again in another 6 weeks, I would ideally be at 39’ish, and in another 6 weeks after that at 40…in time to begin my 12 week race training focus for the Vancouver Half Iron.

During the race specific training, the idea is to turn that ‘fast’ into ‘far’, so I wouldn’t really expect to see any vDOT improvement after that, since my focus will shift to applying that speed to longer distances, rather than actually improving the speed…although the Half Iron training still has some speed stuff, so _might_ still see some minor speed improvement an optimist would say.

…and having said all that I do have a secret plan to still get to vDOT 41…lose 10 pounds…would technically make me 1:02 faster in a 5K, which is 2 vDOT point’s…seems like a no-brainer vs. pounding training for 8-12 weeks for the same 2 point improvement by just working out 🙂


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