I’ve never felt more fit in my life. Yes, there is still some weight to be dropped and I definitely want to go faster, but last couple of heavy weeks start to pay off. After the whole house move thingy I’m back on the track, hitting 10 hours per week mark with no problems. My performance chart never looked better ;)
While I’m definitely not at the level when I require micro adjustments, I wanted to have a baseline for future reference. 1.5 years of more or less structured training and couple of races should establish some level of fitness and it seemed like a good time for a check. I also wanted to see how my respiratory system recovered after I quit smoking almost 3 years ago.The test itself is quite straightforward. They put a breathing mask on your face and block your nose, so the equipment can capture all of air that you exhale. It’s quite weird to breath through it (think of snorkel) and it’s only gets worse when you actually have to dig deep. Then you start on a treadmill on a slow pace, just enough to warm up and raise your heart rate a little. After couple of minutes you jump off the treadmill (while it’s still going) and blood sample is taken to measure lactate level. Then you repeat it with little higher speed. And again. And again. And again, until you hit your maximum heart rate. I tell you, jumping off 4min/km paced treadmill while wearing this freaking mask and tube and having HR above 180 is not easy, nor fun. The last interval is little slower but introduces gradient that increases for as long as you can hold it. For me it was 5% with 190 BPM heart rate. The whole test took around 25 minutes, after which I had some time to cool down, hydrate and wipe some blood off my fingers ;). Simple, isn’t it? As you can see on my chart, my lactate level rises quite steadily for the first half of the test and then things just fall apart. The threshold point is usually referenced as the moment when lactate concentration in blood reaches 4 m.mol.L-1 (I don’t even understand this unit… thing to take - 4!). For me the point was at 5 min/km pace and heart rate around 168 BPM. I’m really good with that, as it’s within my Auckland Marathon goal time (3:30). What is worrying is that the first reading, after only short warm up jog was at 2.8 m.mol.L-1. This basically means that my slow pace, low effort zones are all messed up. The plan for marathon is to run in easy aerobic zone for as long as I can. But generating 2.8 m.mol.L-1 of lactate at jog pace is not going to cut it. Because of that I needed to alter my training plan a little and focus on the basic aerobic endurance. So I dropped fast intervals and replaced them with long run in lower HR zones. By spending time in those zones I want my body to adapt to that effort, so it generates less lactate, so I can eventually go faster while keeping my heart rate / lactate low. That will give me enough strength to execute great run and push hard during last hour of the run. Is this going to work? I’ll see quite soon!
Like I said before numerous times, getting fit was one of the best decisions of my life. Starting to smoke was probably the worst. I’ve been regular 1 to 1.5 pack a day smoker for around 9 years. When I started to run and got my first Polar HR monitor, it estimated VO2 at around 35 ml per kilogram of body weight per minute, which translated to “poor” fitness level (wow, surprise!). On the test day my VO2 peaked at 59.5 ml per kilogram of body weight per minute, which is the top of any chart you can find on the internet. There is of course still space for improvement. Just to compare - national level runners will have their VO2Max at around 70, and Miguel Indurain was sitting at 88! (according to http://www.topendsports.com/testing/records/vo2max.htm). Now I know that I will never get there, but I’m sure that I can improve.It’s worth noting that one of the variables of VO2Max formula is weight. Another motivation to drop few kilograms ;).
for the next 5 weeks I’m going to keep increasing both volume and intensity of the training. In the middle of that period I might reintroduce longer intervals, depending on how well I can execute my zone runs. Longest run should hit 28km mark. After that there will be two weeks of taper and my first Marathon. Unless I do something stupid, like this:
Remember kids, never turn fast on slippery surface. I have 10 cm wide bruise on my thigh now, thankfully - it’s not painful and should not have impact on my preparation.On the other note, I’ve finally paid for Taupo Cycle Challenge. Interesting time ahead! Next update in couple of weeks, after I reassess zone runs.