You have been working out this fall and into the winter building your aerobic base and speed. As you continue to train for the First Half Virtual in February you may want to know what are the changes to your fitness. There are a few ways to gauge how your fitness is improving:

  1. Time trial distance is getting faster – If you ran a 5km earlier in the year and you run a 5km now your time should be faster if you are getting fitter. When you train the same way as when you ran your first 5km time trial and your 5km time improves you are in better race shape.
  2. Average training pace – If your average training pace has been getting faster your fitness is improving. Your average training pace is your km per week divided by total running time per week.
  3. Average heart rate is dropping – You may be running at the same pace and your average heart rate is going down week after week. That indicates you can run at the same speed with less effort.
  4. Garmin VO2 Max – Garmin Connect provides an estimate of your VO2 Max. If your VO2 Max is improving your Fitness is improving. Sometimes your Fitness can be improving and your VO2 Max can be declining due to an increase in Fatigue associated with hard training. The Garmin Connect algorithm uses speed and heart rate to estimate your VO2 Max. From time to time your VO2 declines when your heart rate increases. If you are training more than usual or have several taxing workouts your average heart rate may increase. This is an indication it is time to take an easy week and recover.
  5. TrainingPeaks – TrainingPeaks offers an estimate of your Fitness, Fatigue and Performance. You can use these estimates to gauge how your training is progressing and how to taper for a race for maximum performance. The TrainingPeaks’ model is based on the formula that Performance = Fitness – Fatigue. Consistent training will increase your Fitness while too much training will increase your Fatigue too much as well. The objective is to find the balance between increasing Fitness without too much Fatigue.

TrainingPeaks also offers Training Scores which allows you to evaluate the benefit of the workout to your Fitness and the amount of Fatigue the workout generates. The current Forerunners Virtual Run Clinic schedule is set-up on TrainingPeaks. If you would like to be added to it please send me an email.