Tuesday, June 11, 2013

This Mathematician Loves The Data: Getting Stronger

I have metabolic testing done every 2-4 months. I have done this for a couple years. It's a great benchmark for where my fitness is at the time. And I can see changes in realtime when my mileage drops a little, or when I'm doing more long easy base miles, or when I'm doing more speedwork. It's a great check-in that I recommend anyone serious about their running invest in.

I had my testing last done 8 weeks ago in mid-April. We retested this morning. And the results showed some awesome improvements. At the same speed, my VO2 had dropped, my fat burn efficiency had gone up and my calories burned per minute had dropped (those last two are super important for ultrarunning). It also meant that I had basically jumped a heart rate zone which was very interesting.

I'm not a physiologist, so I tried to see the best way to show this. Here's the test data results with my heart rate zones from the old and new tests. And I highlighted an example of 5.5 mph in the old and new test so you can see the difference.

VO2 at 5.5 mph went from 29 to 25. Woo hoo! Even more striking was that my Heart Rate Zone 2 average fat burn % went from 27% (old zone 2) to 39%. And at 5.5 mph, that fat burn % went from 21% to 39%. Whoa!

What this means is that last time, my Zone 2 fat burn % looked like you fell off a cliff. Which meant I couldn't raise my heart rate in an ultra without super burning my carbs up, which is a great way to have a horrible race.

Now the graph is a lot flatter for a bigger heart rate range. So I can pound a downhill, or rally on a flat section, without the worry of going into major "sugar burn".

Look at how flat Zone 2 looks. That's the improvement.

Causes For These Improvements?

Well, let's see...

  • Awesome coach Jeremy and awesome trainer Donnie consistently guiding me toward being a stronger runner
  • A load of hills. "Speedwork in disguise", hills are a good workout to build up Zones 2 and 3. It's interval training!
  • Altitude tent. I've been sleeping in a Hypoxico altitude tent for 37 days, as well as using the Hypoxico equipment for a handful of high altitude workouts on the treadmill. I'll talk more about the altitude tent another dedicated time.
  • Mileage? In 2012 I had 4 months with over 125 miles, including one 200 mile month. In 2013, my mileage hasn't been anything special. Worn out from constant child sickness this winter, I let my miles fall off some. Not even hitting 100 miles in a month for some of the year. So it's not like I tripled my miles over that 60 days since the previous test.

January 2013 121.2
February 2013 95.5
March 2013 88.1
April 2013 80.3
May 2013 125.0

Moving Forward

Regardless of the cause, I'm hoping the improvements will make Bighorn 50K on Saturday a LITTLE less uncomfortable. Mentally, my goal for this race is to have a "strong race". I have a visualization in my head of what that means to me. It's not necessarily fast, it includes taking pictures, it includes spending time with one of my best friends on the course, and it includes minimal miserable miles. We'll see if I can execute that on Saturday.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome!! That has to boost your confidence going into the race this weekend! (good luck!)

    I'm interested in doing one of these, and almost sprung for it this year, but I'm spending the cash on a bike fit (maybe next year!)

    Also, inquiring minds want to know more about the tent. How does it feel? Do you sleep as well? :)