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!



  1. How cool that you got to do some tests like this!!! I would think this would be fun and helpful. And a great set of information to use for training optimally.

  2. You skinny/fit B!! (<;If I didnt like you so much...(<;

    So super cool! I would love to do something like that! And what great numbers! Its got to make you feel good. Id love for you to be retested when your back to your regular training. The numbers would be interesting.

    I have low BP but super high chloresteral (family hand me down) and it isnt changed by diet so I feel you on the weird body front. Atleast you know that you're super fit and are doing all you can do- its just one of those lame things.
    13 percent. I swear. Your way to sexy for your tempos.

    1. Boo to the crappy gene pool!

      I forgot to mention in my post that Ken is offering me the test again at the same price, so I will probably try to shoot for another go in November, a couple of months before my January marathon and before I run myself into the ground overtraining for it. ;-)

  3. I am so intrigued by all of this- thanks for sharing! I'd love to do something similar some day... I love numbers and data. :) Awesome that you had such encouraging results!

    1. Just checking in- how's everything going? Hope to hear more from you soon. :)

  4. Woo-hoo for the super low body fat and the decent results (the BF is particularly impressive to me as mine's around 18.3; how do you do that??? is that genetic too??? it's not like I'm always eating fast food). I've always wanted to do tests like this. I need to keep a better eye on those local deals.

    1. Terzah, I think I am sort of a naturally muscular person. I'll never be rail skinny. I've been really concentrating on lifting during my rehab, so I do think that I probably dropped a couple of % points in the past few weeks. I really can tell when I neglect my strength training. I may be thinner, but I look "softer." Does that make sense? There's nothing special with my diet. I allow myself some treats (wine, sweets, pizza) but generally try to eat pretty clean. Probably like an 80/20 deal. :)

    2. I need to replay again, but this cracks me up! I am afraid to do the BF test...think I might qualify as a well-padded rail right now.

  5. Oops. That was "reply".

    So - this was pretty cool to get to do a test! I am curious about the whole thing. You need to do a 5k right now and then match it to the Vdot calculator to see if you are at 45.5 for that distance...then you need to race a mile and see if its the same there, or better...and then you need to race a half marathon and a 10k just to be sure! And after that, do a marathon..And all the while train to the right intensities using JD's Vdot chart.

    OK now you know what kind of obsession it can be. ha. :) I want an O2 test!! and a Vo2 test!

    Seriously awesome that you are at that body fat! You sound very healthy. Can't wait to see how training goes with these numbers :)

  6. What a cool test! I just got measured for body fat at my gym, and they told me I was 9.8, which I really don't believe at all. He used calipers, but maybe not accurately. What did your person use for the fat test?

    Congrats on being super fit too! It's good to know what you can expect of yourself when you are hitting the streets. So you can expect awesome!!

  7. Wow! A happy mesh of healthcare and running - my two perfect worlds!! How I would love to do this!

  8. so cool! can't wait to hear the rest of it. Way to go on the body fat!!!

  9. Very cool!! I would love to do something like this sometime. I agree with the above- way to go on the awesome body fat percentage. I have not done mine since college and I'm pretty sure I'm A LOT higher than I'd like to know right now.