Monday, 22 October 2018

Munga - Crunching the Numbers

I've done the Munga 3 times. Each time I finished faster:

2015 85h30

2016 73h10

2017 67h34

I don't have the data for 2016 so I'll focus on the 2015 and 2017 numbers to show you how I was able to shave off 18 hours. By the way, 2016 was a dog right out of the starting gate. The temperature was in the mid to upper 40's and we battled into a scorching headwind all through that first afternoon. There were many casualties that day with a huge chunk of the field throwing in the towel before the sun rose the next day. Even so, I managed to better my previous time by more than 12 hours. The "how" is interesting. 

Here's the 2015 result. As you can see by my comment the official time was 85h30. 

In 2017 I had it down to 67h34. That's an 18 hour improvement. 

My overall speed for 2015 was 12.63 km/h. Two years later it was 16 km/h. I had targeted 16 km/h before the race so finished per plan. 

So there is the simple secret to improving your time, train to ride faster. 

In my case it works out 27% faster. The raw data looks impressive. However once you drill down the rest of the numbers tell a very different story. Training to ride faster is fine if you come off a low base. I'm a seasoned endurance rider so there is no way I'm going to bang out a 27% improvement. 

While a 27% improvement looks amazing, in practice I had ridden just under 10% faster. A big chunk of that 10% improvement was due to knowing what to expect and riding a lot lighter. 

Let's look at the underlying numbers. 

I remember looking at this data after the race and being very disappointed. My result was fine but these numbers stunned me. I had finished in 9th place in a time of 85h30 but the data showed my moving time as only 59h44. 

I was supposed to be racing yet managed to spend 26 hours off my bike. As I tried to piece together my race I couldn't reconcile the time off the bike with the benefits of being stationary. This was a game changer for me for future endurance races. 

My strategy going forward was to cut out the time when I wasn't doing something beneficial. Beneficial = feeding and sleeping. What else matters? I've seen people resting up for an hour at a race village and that's okay, I guess. For me that doesn't work. 

Picnic legs are a thing, certainly for me. Picnic legs for those of you who don't know is the heaviness you feel in your legs after you've stopped for an extended coffee or breakfast break midway through your weekend ride. The exhilaration you experienced when charging into your coffee/breakfast spot is soon forgotten as you try coax some interest back into your tired legs.   

Did my new strategy yield results? 

We'll see in the next post. 

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