Today I'll share yesterday's experience with my second-ever lab test per Coach Doug's request: VO2 Max: performed by Alyson at the Memorial Hermann Ironman Sports Medicine Institute. VO2 is a simple, yet often misunderstood concept, so before I go any further, here are the definitions as provided by my output report, courtesy of IMSI:
Def. VO2 is the peak oxygen usage of an individual at maximum exercise and is measured in milliliters of oxygen.
What it means:
-Excellent indicator of aerobic fitness
- Higher VO2 max means individual can handle higher exercise intensities & volume
-Higher VO2 can recover from anaerobic work more efficiently
-VO2 Max can be increased by workout intensities at specific sub-max VO2 %
Word on the street in some circles is that a high VO2 can equal bragging rights. Maybe, but at least in my experience, a high performing engine is only as good as the transmission, suspension, and other moving parts. But I digress.
The testing experience (a submaximal incline test) itself actually had me a bit nervous before hitting the treadmill. I knew it wasn't a very long test, but there would be a point that would be rather uncomfortable and I would have to wear a mask with tubing coming out either end. I had the option of doing a track-based test, however, with the heat indices and humidity in Houston I elected for a more controlled environment.
After getting the 'Top Gun-esque' mask securely attached to my head, I began with walking. Yep, walking-to get resting and low-effort data. Before long I was running a little over my most recent 5k pace and actually felt next to nothing for several minutes. In dealing with situations that are unfamiliar and unpredictable, I like to find something in the environment to focus on. I was only able to see from nose-level up so I went back to focusing on the one tree between the Marriott and a parking garage. That was all I fixed my attention on as I let my body do its thing without my mind getting in the way as every two minutes the incline was increased.
|I felt kinda like this, except for much slower and on a revolving belt instead of an F-14.|
The strangest part was how quickly I went from comfortable to jello-like. I knew I had hit max when my form started breaking down and I started feeling out of control-kinda weird! When the "straw" that I was breathing through began to feel clogged, I went ahead and surrendered by grabbing the bar in front of me. The whole time I had no idea how I was doing and just wanted to get somewhere north of 45 (avg-high avg.) for my max.
After the spacey feeling wore off, the awesome staff let me use an empty treadmill to get the rest of my miles for the day in easy while the results were compiled. Then the "moment" of truth arrived with a pleasant surprise: a number greater than 55ml/o2 and ranked in a very high percentile.
While this is a very encouraging find and I'm sure Coach is sharpening his saw blade ready to unleash some controlled fury on me, like I said earlier, this number is only as good as many other factors. Of course, the goal this year is to keep restoring the car so that the engine can be opened up at the right time. One gear at a time.
These tests are recommended for anyone who wants to train hard but smart and top coaches and colleges regularly use them to assess athlete's abilities and progress (i.e. where to set training paces, goal times, etc.). I'm curious to see what this does for my training this season.
Bottom line is this: I walked away with some hard data of what I am still capable of and that's pretty sweet. God has blessed me with a gift that I am learning to use wisely. Thanks for the push Coach Doug and for Ironman Sports Medicine for the quality experience.
Stay the course.