Friday, July 29, 2016

VO2 Max Testing (Friday Five Edition)

A few weeks ago, I went to a local college and had my VO2 Max tested.  I've been interested in seeing what I could do to make my running better and I had read a bunch on running by heart rate materials.  While I'm still not sure how to incorporate it into my training fully, I think the little bit I've done has helped.  I slow down when I hit Zone 5 and slowly but surly my speed has picked up.  So understanding what my VO2 Max and heart rate zones really were will help me solve a little more of this puzzle.  This is 5 things I learned from the test.

This is not me.  I wish I would have had them take a picture of me all strapped in.  Really.

1.  The mask is just as uncomfortable as it looks.  They hook you up to the mask and then plug up your nose so all of your air is going through the tube.  There were a few moments while I was waiting for everything to calculate before I started that I thought I was going to have a panic attack.  I don't like enclosed spaces and the mask defiantly was making me feel like things were enclosing on me.  But once I got running and pushing it, I didn't think about it at all.  Though I did slobber a little, but they were ready with paper towels.

2.  I did like the cheering.  First, you start out at a gentle run for 3 minutes.  Then every 2 minutes the incline is moved up 2 levels.  At first when it was real easy, every so often one of the 4 people in the room with me would cheer me on.  I thought it was weird at first.  But when I got to the 10 incline level and huffing and puffing, not knowing if I could go on, they were all cheering.  One would tell me I still had gas in my tank every so often.  Without their cheering I think I would have quit a lot earlier.

3.  After some thought on it, I think I did quit early.  There might have been something left in my tank, but I will never know.  When I was at incline level 8 all I wanted to do was make it to 10.  I kept pushing to make it to the next level.  Then I wanted to be at that level for a little bit.  I was huffing and puffing and I wasn't sure if I could go on, so I tapped out.  I really think there might have been enough in me to go to level 12, but I will never know that now.  But it did wipe me out!

4.  You shouldn't go strait back to work after the test.  I did it at lunch time and by the end of the test, I was drenched in sweat.  Trying to cool down and be fresh and perky without a shower was impossible.  I really hope I didn't stink too much to my coworkers when I made it back.

5.  As for the actual results, I found out that my VO2 Max = 34 ml/kg/min.  So, what does that mean?  Looking at the chart, for my age, it is average.  It was shown that my ventilatory threshold was 64% of my VO2 Max.  Ventilary threshold is the point where oxygen to the muscles becomes limited and your body starts using more anaerobic energy.  Basically when you hit a point in your exercise when you are breathing so much you don't feel you can draw as much air in as you need.  The threshold can range from around 50% for those that are unfit to 90% for elites.  If I can get mine closer to 75% I could exercise at a higher intensity without subsequent fatigue, which could lead to faster runs.  To do this, I need to exercise in zone 3 (140-147 for me).

I have found that my average runs have been in the mid 150's, so I have a little work to do.  I did find that my watch did have the same VO2 Max, so that was an interesting fact.  The zones are different on my watch as was noted to me in my test, the big difference being the test had 4 zones while my watch has 5.

What's next?  For right now, I am going to work on getting my average HR down to 150.  Looking back at my runs since I started using my HR monitor, I have slowly gotten down from the upper 150's to mid 150's, so I think it's possible.  I hope that I have the time to bounce back my times before MCM.

The Run Lab does have a biomechanics test, which includes a 2-D strike analysis and 3-D gait analysis, that I will do later this summer.  I was supposed to have a lactate threshold done with my VO2 Max test, but they were out of lactate strips because they just finished testing the whole basketball team.  So they recommended that I come back in August and do the biomechanics test and they will do the lactate test then.  That way, I can see if I have had any improvement on my threshold.

If you are looking to do the same sort of testing, check out your local colleges or gyms.  I've seen ads for VO2 Max testing in both.  I went with the college because they had more then just the VO2 Max testing and I was interested in my gait analysis as well.

Have you ever done a VO2 Max test or gait analysis?  Have you found these tools helpful?  Have you ever run based on heart rate?

Linking up with Courtney, Mar & Cynthia 


  1. oh my god! this test sounds terrifying to me! But at the same time it sounds very intriguing!

    1. That's exactly how I thought of it too. I'm glad I did it though, but we will see if anything comes of it.

  2. I have never done one of those tests. I can't imagine going back to work after doing that.I wonder what mine would say.

    1. I had a deployment to do that afternoon and had to go back to the office. I know better for next time. :)