Tuesday, April 13, 2010

V02 Max Testing

To put it eloquently, this experience was SUPER COOL.

I’m a total geek when it comes to analyzing my training data, so naturally I was all over the opportunity to get my fitness tested in a lab.

To get started, they did a 4 point skin-fold caliper test, and took my height and weight. I stepped on the treadmill and was loaded up with gear: a heart rate monitor, a plastic headband with a snorkel-like mouth piece (think orthodontic headgear). The mouthpiece was connected to tube leading to a metabolic cart. And for the finishing touch, a nose plug.

They entered my body mass stats into the cart's computer, then we got rolling.

A maximal treadmill test protocol was used, with direct monitoring of respiratory exchange.

I began at a walking pace and every 3 minutes the incline was increased. Around the 21 minute mark, the speed was also increased every 3 minutes.

After 29 minutes, I’d had enough and tapped the handrail to signal I was done. I couldn’t rip mouthpiece out fast enough. I’m not claustrophobic, but I felt some panic. It’s stifling amount of gear!

Click on the thumbnails below to see the printout of my results.

I’ve never considered myself to be built like an athlete. I lack the inherent “gift”. I’m a runner who gets by on determination and hard work. Lots of time, and buckets of sweat, have gone into attaining this level of mediocrity. Ha. Take that genetics!

Well my V02 Max was 59.2 (ml/kg/min), which they told me was excellent for a woman. Not too shabby.

Now V02 Max isn’t everything. A high VO2 max indicates an athlete's potential for great aerobic endurance, but it can’t be used to determine the winner of a particular race. Lactate threshold is a more reliable predictor of performance, as it’s the amount of aerobic potential you’re actually tapping. According to the test, my lactate threshold was only 80% of my aerobic potential (VO2 Max).

So in summary, I have more untapped potential than I’ve given myself credit for. However, my training hasn’t been as optimal as it should be to utilize that aerobic potential. I need to put more emphasis on hills and speed work to improve my lactate threshold.

Beyond Smart Coach on runnersworld.com, where do you come up with your training plans? Any books you’d recommend?


  1. Holy cow that is a killer VO2 Max!! According to the chart I have that is VERY GOOD! I had mine done a couple years ago as part of a studying on running economy & women at various ages. Mine was a lowly 47.6! I also have some untapped potential as my lactate threshold was only 79% of my VO2 Max.

    Here is what I was told about improving lactate threshold....Lactate threshold can be improved to as much as 70% or higher. Exercise that increases VO2 max usually involves working at an intensity that is 80-90% of an individual’s VO2 max, although it varies from individual to individual. If a person works at her lactic threshold or a little above it, she can improve both her VO2 max and his/her anaerobic threshold. It is also suggested that an athlete train at 90% or above his/her maximum heart rate (or the heart rate found at your lactate threshold) in order to stress the lactic acid system, improving VO2 max and anaerobic threshold. Most trained individuals will hit their lactate threshold around 65-80% of VO2 max.

    So basically it is training based on your heart rate. Aiming for 90% of your maximum heart rate during intense exercise intervals.

  2. yowzer. that is all way too much for me to absorb. although, I would like to get mine done some day just for fun, I've always wanted to get hooked up with gear just to see how athletic I really am (or am not, hmmm).

  3. Thanks for breaking down Britt. It was a whole lot of information to piece together.

    Did you make any changes to your training based on your results?

  4. That's so cool... I would love to have it done but I'm cheap!

  5. That's so cool... I would love to have it done but I'm cheap!