Thursday, March 21, 2013

Demonstrated Fitness Potential Over Time

OK--yet another exercise in data excess!

I wanted to get a sense of how my peak fitness in each of the SBR disciplines has varied over time--how have the counter-forces of training/experience and age worked out over time?  I decided on the following methodology:

-Take the best three race performances as defined by pace (swim=min/mile; bike=mph; run=min/mile) each year and average them and plot the trendlines.

-I didn't just want to take the single best because of the non-desireable variability inherent in that approach (sample size).  I also didn't want to just average every race each year because some years I have no IMs and other years I have two--this radically affects average pace.  I thought about plotting the median demonstrated pace (and I still might do that) but I ultimately decided that taking the best three would be the best compromise and would give me a sense about each year--what my peak fitness (as measured by pace) was.  In practice this averages my three fastest/easiest courses each year and compares them.

So here are the three charts--the first is for the swim:

The first chart above shows my top 3 average swim pace (min/mile) by year (2001-2012).  NOTE: all of these three charts are what we used to call "McKinsey Charts" as the zero point of the y axis is not at zero.  In this case, it starts at 20 min/mile.  These charts both better highlight variation but also exaggerate it.  For reference purposes, the variation between my worst year (2008) and my best (2010) is 27%.

What this chart demonstrates is a gradual improvement in my swim from 2001-2005; a bit of a slide backwards from 2005-2008; and with my wholesale restructuring of my swim stroke, dramatic improvements over the last few years.  For stat freaks, the best curve fit (demonstrated by the black line) is a second order polynominal (which makes sense).  My guess is that going forward we'll see the effects of aging erode the improvements that I have recently achieved.  My guess is that 2010 was my peak swim year....

Here is the same chart for the bike:
A couple of things about this chart to orient the reader:

-since this is mph, up is good here--down is good for the swim and bike

-McKinsey graph--not much variation here--just 7% from best (2004) to worse (2002)


-I've always been good at biking--when I started I was averaging 23.2 mph!
-My peak in 2004 was 24.9 mph--this means i was routinely riding at 25/26 mph in my races....even without a lot of experience
-I've held a pretty high standard since....basically the data says I'm losing about 0.1 mph/year

-after my peak in 2004 age lead my fitness downwards...age is eroding my fitness potential on the bike

-however, a very concerted effort in 2010/2011 lead to a bump up

-2012 appears to be back on the downward trend...which i guess will continue in the years ahead...

This is a 4th order polynominal curve fit....

Here is what the run looks like:

Here, up is bad....there is a lot of bad here of course.

After the original bump up, I enjoyed a solid couple of years of getting faster as I embrased the triathlon experience.

However, after 2007, it has become increasingly less attractive, and pretty dramatically so.

The total variation on my run is about twice as much as my bike (which I think is a function of age hammering my run more than my bike) but half (and in the opposite direction) of the variation of my swim--ie, my swim has improved more than my run has declined...unfortunately, the swim doesn't count as much as the run (nor the bike for that matter).

The last two years seem to suggest that maybe I am plugging the dam over the last two years on the run...that would be awesome if true.  I'm certainly focused on doing so in 2013....we'll see what happens....perhaps, this measure is one of the most important for me in evaluating my training in 2013....

There you go...more data than I'm sure you wanted....but I think this really explains whats going on with respect to my true potential as a triathlete....not so pretty, but it is what it is....getting old and being an endurance athlete is hard!

No comments: