Saturday, May 05, 2012

Comparative analysis of 8 road marathons

You are probably getting bored with all these graphs but I have a few more things I want to calculate and record. Sorry!

In this posting, I am comparing 8 of my road marathons between 2009 and Eugene (Apr 2012). I have divided the 8 into two groups...a more recent group from '11 and '12, and the older races from '09 and '10 (and one from  early '11).

The graph above shows the paces from my fastest last 4 marathons.. from 3:54 to 4:12. You can see how much faster the orange and blue (CIM and Eug) races are than LA and Copenhagen (cph). I have also put the Meyers pace for Eugene up there for comparison (in black). I have done a Gaussian smoothing over 5 miles to make it easier to see longer term trends. 

You can clearly see that blue and orange (CIM and Eug..the "Jill" races ;) are much faster paces. Both cph and LA were "wall" free and show speedups at the end. (LA has some major downhill in the last 2 miles).

You can again seen the closeness of the Eugene profile to the Meyers profile.( blue vs black) ...

This graph takes the same 4 marathons and shows the running economy (ypb === yards per beat of heart) as a function of distance. Clearly CIM and Eugene are much more efficient. It's about .1 yards per beat..quite an improvement from actuallly training hard! Cim shows at the best, but remember it has a nice net downhill of 400' and at a slower pace.

You'll notice LA (red) gets more efficient at the end...again that's due to the wonderful downhill in the last 2 miles in that race 8)

These races are my first marathons. They are lumpier looking (even with smoothing) because I recorded .25 mile rather than 1 mile splits in those days. And of course the SF  (San Francisco) races are way hilly.

Napa (red) and Surf city (green) were done at slow paces where I did not hit the can see I kicked the pace down at the end of the races.  All the others races in the 9:xx paces show a real fade in the last miles. The black trace was my 4:06 PR that stood for over a year until CIM. I was on a 4:00 pace until mile 21 when we faded big time and lost 6 minutes in 6 miles.

You can also see that sfm '09 (orange) and sfm '10 (black) have very similar shape profiles ..there are some pretty big hills that slowed you down ;). The orange '09 race (4:15) I did not have fade until 2 miles later than sfm '10.
The main take-away from this graph is how much poorer the efficiencies are than the previous graph. The hills on the pacing graph show up in inverse..a hill goes up on the graph which is slower in pace where the ypb efficiency goes down (crappier efficiency). 

SF marathon '10 is not on this graph because I didn't wear a heart rate monitor in that race. (Stupid).

Jill has pointed out my recent fast races did not have much of a base going into training compared to what I could do (various issues prevented this.)  Now that I seem to have improved my resistance to injuries (foot lift/shim and strength training, PT exercises) more is possible.

I will see what is possible...stay tuned.


  1. Paul - sometimes I just like to run. That's a lot of thinking involved here. Haha! Nice job on your PR!

  2. You are the chart master. I think you like to run more to analyze it afterwards than to enjoy the run itself. But, hey, who am I to talk.

    Hope we both can stay injury free for a while.

  3. I LOVE the visuals!!! It makes it so much clearer to "see" the difference than just mere words...Perhaps you should go into a second business making graphs for all your ffellow bloggers ;)

    Thanks so much for your words of advice to me ysterday...they came very clear and direct to me, and I greatly appreciate it! i will definately continue to "push" a bit harder for answers...but in the meantime keep me busy with your runs and graphs :)


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