Saturday, June 28, 2014

Vo2 Max Sports testing and everything else on my mind

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Well, I think I can safely say I'm not sick anymore. I have a tiny cough but I can feel that it's on its way out. I wasn't able to do the Resting Metabolic Rate testing like I'd planned but I did get the VO2 Max testing done. I'll tell you all about that in just a bit.

But first, a quick exercise recap. I skipped the gym in the early part of the week because of my cold. Come Wednesday I was getting a little stir crazy so I went to the gym for what was to a "light" workout. Well, the only thing light about it is that I did 15 minutes on the upright bike instead of my normal 25. And I did those 15 minutes at Level 9 (instead of my normal Level 8). After the bike I did legs/shoulders/core for strength training. It was a quick one, my whole workout only lasted 49 minutes.

Thursday came around and I was dragging. I'd slept terrible on Wednesday night. Add to that, I was pressed for time, tired and I noted in my gym log that I was "still coughing". I did 10 minutes on the elliptical followed by what back/biceps/core work I could squeeze into the 40 minutes I had to exercise.  So two workouts, for the week. Considering I was struck with a cold, I'll consider that a win.

The treadmill and computer for testing
Ok, on to the Vo2 max testing. I arrived at the Vo2 Max Sports studio in Berkeley at 10am. I met with Michael Tatum, the managing director of the team. Michael put me at ease, immediately helping me to feel comfortable and like I "belonged" even though I am far from a hard-core athlete. I liked that the studio was totally private, it was just Michael and I, I wasn't intimidated at all.

We spent some time chatting about how we both believe more people, specifically more average athletes (my words, not his) like myself, should get all the information they can about their bodies' composition and function. Not even "athletes" but anyone who wants to improve his/her fitness and overall health. Michael pointed out that it's not all about running faster but about having all the information to help us achieve health and fitness in general. I liked that.

The equipment

Michael getting my mask on tight
I had a few thoughts about the mask being claustrophobic or difficult to run in but it was fine, especially given the testing does not last that long. Once I was all set up I hopped on the treadmill and began by walking for a few minutes while the machine calibrates.

Then Michael began increasing the pace, usually only .5 at a time, or the elevation, .5 - 1% at a time. He reminded me I can stop anytime I need to for a break.

Over the next 5-10 minutes I went from a 2.5mph 0% incline walking pace to running at 7.5mph at a 4 incline! I couldn't believe I could run for even 1 second at that pace and incline. Michael let me know we'd hit my Anaerobic Threshold and that I could stop anytime I was probably less than 10 seconds after that that I stopped.

After a cool down we sat down to go over my numbers.

My VO2 Max is 39. From what I've read, that's not bad for a woman my age. It's nothing to write home about either. Michael and I discussed how while you will often hear Vo2 max is largely genetic, that you can improve it (maybe even by as much as 20%) by losing weight and improving your base level of aerobic fitness.

I have to tell you, I've done a ton of reading over the past week related, in one way or another, to VO2 Max. I've learned how oxygen getting into your body involves two major steps, first is your body's ability to transport oxygen from your lungs to the mitochondria and then the rate at which the mitochondria can reduce the oxygen for use in energy expenditure. I'm sure some scientist would balk at my probably over-simplified explanation but it works for me. It sounds like most of us suffer from the limits of our bodies getting the oxygen to the mitochondria but I even read that for some couch potatoes, their mitochondria might also be slow on the uptake.

Aaaanyway...this is not really relevant to my training better, unless you count having a base understanding of what all this means as relevant. So, my Vo2 max is 39, but what I found even more interesting was the zones the machine determined based on my Vo2 and heart rate.

Low zone
Heart rate: 80-116
At this zone I burn between 164-424 calories per hour

Moderate zone
Heart rate: 116-154
At this zone I burn between 424-645 calories per hour

High zone
Heart rate: 154-165
At this zone I burn between 645-725 calories per hour

Peak zone
Heart rate: 165-168
At this zone I burn between 725-751 calories per hour

This fits with what my subjective experience has been. When my heart rate hits 170 I usually know it's time to dial it back. Michael and I spent some time discussing the benefits of training in different zones, what's to be gained by staying in the low/moderate zones vs the high and maybe even intervals into the peak zone - or beyond!

Next week we're doing my Resting Metabolic Rate testing. Michael said the RMR numbers "will bring everything together" in terms of understanding how my body uses energy, oxygen, etc. I can't wait for that information! And thank you to Michael for working with me, I'm learning so much!!

Well, that's about it from me. Oh wait, I have one last gripe. I was checking out at a hardware store tonight and for whatever reason, I was really struck by how annoying it is to be faced with a wall of candy just to buy a little paint. Come on, this isn't a grocery store or a gas station. Give me a break! I felt a rebellious energy rise up. No way in hell I'd be buying any of that junk.

On that happy note, I'll end this post because I'm getting tired. I'll have to tell you about today's painful 3.5 mile run in my next post. Not all runs can be great, right?

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Monday, June 23, 2014

In the Driver's Seat

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Should I lead with the bad news or the bad news?  I have a cold. That's the bad news. The other bad news is that I think it might mess up my RMR and VO2 Max testing later this week. So I'm taking tomorrow off, hoping the rest and relaxation will kick this thing to the curb entirely.

My eating is strictly meh, though I did get a little internal wake up call that has me thinking a bit more straight. I've been acting like I don't have any self control, as if this whole evening snacking thing is beyond me. Have I forgotten who I am? What I've accomplished? Time to get back in the driver's seat and accept some responsibility for where this thing is going. 

The personal issues I've been dealing with continue to, well, continue to need to be dealt with. Having my mental energy used up on navigating these issues is another factor here, one that I probably don't acknowledge enough in my writing. It's just so personal and honestly when I think about my eating and exercise there's a way in which I'd like to pretend the rest of my life is no influence on those choices.

Meanwhile...back in reality. Right?