Monday, June 11, 2012

Cardio-Metabolic Testing... Part One

In the interest of time, I've decided to split this up into a couple of parts. If you're anything like me, you just don't have time to spend more than a couple of minutes on a particular blog entry. Plus it gets boring listen to someone drone on.

So with that... Part 1.

For months, I'd been wanting to do some advanced fitness testing to pinpoint numbers that would help me with my training. I had actually bookmarked because we frequently visit San Diego, and I'd always think to myself, "Someday I'm going to do this." The timing was never right though. Either I was racing that weekend (i.e. Carlsbad Marathon) or deep into marathon training and just couldn't make the time on our trip. Additionally, it's a $200 test, and I don't exactly have that lying around for frivolity.

Finally, the stars aligned with our last trip. A few days before, I happened to stumble across a Living Social $85 special for the Cardio-Metabolic Profile, which is exactly the test I wanted to have done. Since I have not been training intensely because of my recent back injury, I feared that the numbers wouldn't reflect my accurate fitness levels, but I figured, "What the heck?" I might as well do it because now really was as good a time as any. 

The owner of The Fit Stop Lab, Ken Nicodemus, graciously made time for me to have the test done on a Saturday morning, something he normally doesn't do. I showed up at 9 am ready to see what I'm made of!

The first thing that he did was go over a bunch of paperwork that I had filled out and e-mailed back to him a few days earlier. Health history stuff, yada, yada. Next was a BP and resting HR check. No surprise... My BP SUCKS. I have been borderline for years (140/88). Damn genetics (My dad tends to have borderline BP as well despite being healthy and active). He also told me that my resting HR of 58 is higher than he would expect. Again, no surprise there, as I tend to have a naturally high HR for whatever reason. My cardiovascular system is just... interesting. I'll add that I had a full-work done at my stepdad's office (a cardiologist) in 2003 and nothing looked abnormal. My lipid profile for the last couple of years has also been fine. I guess I'm just a freak with a semi-crappy ticker.

Next was a weight and body fat check. I ended up being 129.2 pounds and 13.8% body fat. What a tremendously pleasant surprise!!!! I was expecting to be much higher. According to Ken (and some chart he showed me that I don't have), female endurance athletes should ideally be no lower than 12% body fat. For me to be at "racing weight," I only need to lose 4 pounds. SWEET! I likely won't bother with that, but it's great to know that I am pretty much already there with that particular number.

Random chart I found for reference. According to this, I can stand to be a shade fatter. Nice! Bring on the dessert!

Next was the big treadmill test. I had to strap on both a HR monitor and a face mask, which would measure my O2 and CO2 levels to determine my VO2 Max.


I won't bore you with all of the details, but I ended up doing a series of different paces while having my O2 levels/HR monitored and letting the testers (Ken also had an intern) know what "level" I was working at during each interval. When I got to level 10 (maxed out), it was time to call it a day. I reached 10 sometime around 10 minutes and at 10.0 mph on the treadmill. I think I did about 15 seconds of a 6 minute mile before I cried, "Uncle!" I'm not used to running fast anymore.

At the end of the session, I was told that my VO2 max was 45.5. First of all, what the heck is VO2 Max? Basically, it's the size of your engine. It's your capacity to deliver oxygen to the working muscle.
Here's another chart to see where I stand:

Yikes. It's really hard to see.

Using a magnifying glass, you'd be able to see that a 45.5 for my age group (30-39) puts me in the "Good" category. This is sort of what I was expecting given what I believe is my fairly "good" (not great) athletic ability + 6 weeks of little to no running (other than Alter G). Just for comparison, Steve Prefontaine's VO2 Max, I found, was 84.4. DAAAAAAAAAAAANG!

My lactate threshold or LT was a 38.0, which is also "Good." Metabolic fitness is a marker that describes how much of your aerobic capacity can be utilized by your working muscles. Higher LT levels means that you have a greater resistance to fatigue.

Ken finished by telling me that he thought when I got back to my regular training, my numbers would likely bump up to the "High" category, which left me feeling pretty optimistic about it all.

Ok, whew. That's a lot, and I'm tired. Surely you are too. And that's not even all of it... Although, it is for today.

I've been collecting some interesting heart rate data during my recent runs, so next I'm going to share that with you. I've been trying to utilize the different "zones" that I also discovered during my testing. Pretty cool stuff!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Teaser... Or is it Spoiler?

Coming to you at 5:47 am... quickly. Hard to believe that summer break is upon us, and I seem to be just as busy as ever. In fact, I am waiting for my husband and 8 year-old to get back from swim practice, so I can head out for a run before the pavement starts melting.

That's right. My boys are at a swim practice, which started at 5:30 am. That's the price they pay for being such studs!

First, for visual interest... I present to you a picture of my latest kitchen gadget.


This thing is awesome! It's called Yonanas, and what you do is freeze a crapton of bananas and other fruit and then shove it in here and it makes an ice cream/frozen yogurt sort of deal. Delicious! Definitely recommend it if you are into kitchen gadgetry, ice cream, and healthy eating.

Next, my back is better!!! I called it... I said it was going to take until the end of May to heal, and sure enough, it did. Right around the last couple of days of the month is when I noticed it no longer ached during runs. 

I did my first long run on Sunday alongside an injured buddy who was completing her first marathon: RNR San Diego. I ran from my hotel to meet her at Mile 15 and then did the remainder of the race with her (total of 14.86 miles). I thought it might be a bit of an aggressive goal, however, she was struggling with a knee injury, so I knew we'd be completely CHILL on the pace. It worked out great! That is until I got physically shoved off the course by a Competitor Group "bouncer" at the finish line chute. See Facerant below, which no one from RNR San Diego or Competitor or whoever has responded to.

Count me out in *any* RNR races in the future.

So what is this spoiler business about?

On Saturday, I took a trip up to Carlsbad (from our hotel in San Digo) and had some cool fitness testing done at a place called The Fit Stop Lab. The owner, Ken, had offered his normally $200 Cardio-Metabolic Profile test for $85 on LivingSocial, so I nabbed the offer.

It was fascinating and will take me a while to sit down and explain it all. Basically I learned that I have a pretty good engine, I'm an efficient runner, and I have a high threshold heart rate. While 170 bpm for someone else might be busting his/her hiney, for me, it's not too taxing. The test provided a bunch of heart rate zones for my workouts, which I will explain in the next post.

Yep. 6:08 am and my other two kiddos are up. I'm outta here!