photo by Steve Penland

Sunday, March 24, 2013

"D" is for "Data." And also for "Duh."

Since I keep so much data on my skating workouts and races, I figured it was time to use some of it.  In my previous post I explained how last year I had been somewhat, um, inconsistent in completing my workouts and in following the general plan for the season.  So I got to wondering: just how much did I actually skip or modify my workouts last year, compared to more successful years?

Well, when you've got five,  two-inch binders of data covering every workout from the past eight years...that's an easy question to answer.  So I grabbed my data notebooks, a pencil, and a couple sheets of scratch paper, and did a little low-tech data mining.

I decided to look at three years:  2007-8, which was a very successful year for me and, as the first year TieGuy coached me, was a year I was very consistent in doing as I was told ; 2011-12, in which I had some thyroid issues during the summer that messed up some workouts but that ultimately (helped on by my technical improvements) was a successful season; and 2012-13, when I used the same workout plan as 2011-12 but in which thyroid and other issues combined to have me be very inconsistent in workouts and to create the most dreadful long track season I've had in living memory.

To compare the season,  I first simply counted the number of "hard" workouts that had been planned for each year (that is, I didn't include recovery workouts, yoga, etc.).  These numbers were fairly consistent across the three years: 2007-8 had 117; 2011-12 and 2012-13 both had 122.

Then, I counted the number of workouts I modified (and by "modified" I mean "made easier;" believe me, I never modified a workout to make it harder!) and the number I skipped altogether.

These numbers were very interesting.

In 2007-8, I modified just 12% of the workouts (actually, Coach TieGuy modified them for me, by telling me to stop when it looked like I'd be tipping over soon).  I skipped just 4 workouts that season--3% of the total.  These were due to illness or injury; in that year, if we were rained out of a skating workout TieGuy would simply come up with a comparable dryland workout for me.

In 2011-12, by contrast, I modified 32% of the workouts, mostly summer ones when my thyroid was misbehaving and I was struggling to complete workouts. I skipped 7 workouts--5% of the total.  Some of these were rain-outs that I didn't replace with dryland; some were "I just don't feel up to it."

2012-13 is where it really gets interesting.  Last year, I modified 60% of the workouts, and skipped 15 workouts completely; 13% of the total number of workouts.  That means that for 73% of all my workouts last year, I either made them easier or skipped them completely.

Turns out that if you don't skate the workouts, you don't experience the results.


So it looks as though my goal of completing the dryland and skating workouts as written for the 2007-8 season is a valid one.  And if I can do it, it will be interesting, next March, to compare the results I achieved with this workout program as a 50-year-old, compared to what I achieved back in 07-08 as a 44-year-old.

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