Tuesday, May 13, 2008

VO2 the MAX!!

This past week I’ve been pretty tired for some reason. I think lack of sleep is the culprit. I tend to stay up late (10-11pm) and then I’ve been swimming early in the morning a couple times a week. The only problem is now my sleep patterns are such that I wake up at 4:30am EVERY DAY. I get up and go swim on training days but roll around and piss my wife off the other days (read, no sleep for me or her). Anyway, I’m trying to work through that. But I’ve got a new training tool to fuel the furnace.

A friend and club-mate of mine, Laura Vedeen is working toward her masters at Illinois State University, and one of her thesis topics is to differentiate between the testing results found using a standard two different types of cycling test equipment, an Ergometer and a Velotron. The Velotron is more like a bicycle and the Ergometer is more like the piece of exercise equipment found in most hotels.

The test was made up of two phases. Phase 1 involved riding the Ergometer and measuring my VO2 max, Peak Heart Rate, Max Power, and determining my Ventilatory Threshold Values (similar/same as Lactic Threshold). Phase 2 involved riding the Velotron and measuring the same as above. Phase 2 would be performed no less than 2 days later than Phase 1 (for me it was three days later).

I was thinking this test was going to be an hour long, grueling lab test. I was somewhat pleasantly surprised since it was only about a 15 minute test, but the grueling part was still in there. I started out with an easy warm-up then they started to add resistance every 1 minute until failure. I only suffered for about 3-4 minutes at the end of each test when they had the resistance cranked WAY up.

For each test, they set up the bike with similar dimensions from my bike (which I brought for the first test) and installed my pedals. The Ergometer had limited adjustability so I felt a bit cramped and the Velotron felt more like a real bicycle.

As you can see in my results, my numbers are as follows:

Maximal Values                    Ergometer     Velotron
VO2 (ml/kg/min):                      56                58.3
Peak Heart Rate (bpm):           165               169
Max Power (Watts):                  360             400
Watts/kg body mass:                4.24            4.71
Ventilatory Threshold Values
Heart Rate:                                   150             140
% of Peak HR:                               91               83
Watts:                                            260             270
Watts/kg:                                    3.06             3.18

What does this mean? You can’t really tell anything from the MAX numbers alone. You have to compare them to the numbers at Anaerobic Threshold (AT). AT is a comparison of the volume of oxygen your body can consume and process vs. the volume of CO2 it can release as waste. When the two volumes are near equal, you are at AT.

My volume of oxygen consumption at AT is 2968mL/min
My max volume of oxygen consumption is 4942mL/min.

This means I have some room for improvement. I can’t really increase my maximum volume of oxygen consumption (VO2 max) but I can increase my volume of oxygen consumption at AT. The other number to look at here is how many watts of power you can output at AT. The Velotron results tell me this number is 270watts. That means I can train at tempo or sub AT without going over and slowly improve the amount of time I can hold that pace. This is a mistake many people make by training at the same pace over, and over, and over and then reaching a plateau in their fitness. You need to increase your training zone to just under AT (with intervals) and you will slowly start to see improvement in your “race pace” fitness. Throwing in a few short VO2 max blasts will also help. Key is knowing this number.

That’s all for this week. I have a big month of training for May and I need to nail every bit of it. I’m going to start picking up a little bit of swimming intensity, begin doing my run circuit training (functional strength), and then increase my bike volume. I’m planning to ride the IM Moo course with Mark and Keith (maybe just one loop) the day before the Madison Marathon (where I’ll probably just run 18) and then Tri Shark is coming the first weekend in June. Can’t wait ‘til June. IM CDA training !!

Later, cd

22 weeks and counting….

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