Wednesday, March 7, 2012

VO2Max Testing

Let me start by saying I have no degrees in exercise physiology, and I don't pretend to understand all of this stuff. That said, I had done my last VO2Max test a year ago right after Sophie was born to get a baseline for where I was at that time. VO2Max was 35 (average, 50th percentile, for a female in my age band) and Anaerobic Threshold was 166 bpm.

My trainer, Donnie, retested me this morning. So my VO2Max moved to 36.5. Now 60th percentile for female in my age band. But man, I was mad - 1300 miles run since the last test and that's all it moved! But Donnie also pointed out that I've been running most of that as base miles, lower heart rate training to run for a long time, and VO2Max won't reflect that. If I had spent 1300 miles of speedwork, then it would tell a different story.

The test helped confirm the reinforcement that I run most efficiently at my comfortable everyday pace, which in turn since it's a comfortable pace I run a lot, makes me more efficient at that pace. It's a chicken or the egg thing as Donnie explained.

But the graph also showed a greater degradation of my fat-burning and oxygen-using efficiency than we would like beyond my aerobic base of about 145 beats per minute. See the picture here where Donnie drew in what it would be nicer to see for me as an ultrarunner.

So more Zone 3 training, and intervals between Zone 1 and Zone 3, ahead for me!

By the way, my Anaerobic Threshold had moved only slightly from 166 a year ago to 171 now. Again, I haven't been doing speed training much so I shouldn't have expected that to go up much anyway.

Also, super duper cool is the fact that the VO2Max testing software, New Leaf, works with my Garmin 910XT!

It downloaded my exact data into the Garmin so when I see calorie burn, and fat calorie burn, it will actually be mostly accurate!! And whereas I always ignored the seemingly arbitrary Zone data from a workout, now the Zones are based on reality.

Finally, the New Leaf system lets me download custom workouts based on my heart rate training zones. So hey, want to do a workout where I spend 2 minutes in Zone 1 and pop up for 1 minute in Zone 3 and repeat? And not look at your watch every half minute to see if the heart rate is in that zone while remembering the heart rate zone ranges? It does all that. I just downloaded the workouts and it will beep and vibrate and get all pissy at me if my heart rate leaves the prescribed zone if I turn on one of those workouts.

Super cool! I can't wait to try some of these workouts and see in a few months the changes in my results!


  1. I love data! It's good that your Aerobic threshold went from 166 to 171 despite now being a year older, right? (isn't that expected to gradually decrease with age?)

    How does someone go about getting tested and what does the testing entail?

  2. That was a pretty good version of our conversation :-). However you only got 4 in...

  3. This is super cool! I never appreciated data until I started running with you and now I am addicted!