Have you ever wondered how many calories you actually burn running slow versus fast? What about wondering if you are eating enough or training too hard? Or wanted to know about your metabolism and fat burn capabilities? I have and was fortunate to get to have VO2 and lactate testing done with Tommy of Triple Threat Tough as a part of my partnership with Tri Shop.
WHAT IS IT?
VO2 and Lactate testing can be helpful for runners and athletes in that it tells you how efficient you are at burning carbohydrates and fat. It also tells you specific heart rate zone info, aerobic and anaerobic thresholds, and VO2 max which not only help with runner nutrition but also help with training smart and efficently. Progress in running is indeed a science and it’s key to find out how to increase the physical load over longer period of time. I am hoping that I can take my results and implement them so I can be the best runner I can be!!!
After fasting since midnight, and drinking lots of water the 24 hours before the test, I went to Tri Shop to get tested by Tommy. I had a hard time breathing and my throat was sore but didn’t think much of it. After finding out the next day that I had an upper respiratory infection, we actually rescheduled so I could retest when healthy. FYI, being sick absolutely affects your results as I found out.
With a breathing mask on, resting heart rate (RHR) is first assessed while sitting. Then you begin walking on a treadmill at a 1% incline (while attempting to breathe normally), and increasing the pace every 2 minutes. After warming up at 4 miles/hr for 3 minutes Tommy adjusted the treadmill every 2 minutes by a speed increases of .6 mph. At each adjustment, Tommy took my perceived exertion (I would use my hands and give a numerical scale of 1-10). When I was unable to continue, the software stopwatch is stopped and the time is recorded. For this second test I only made it to 8.0 mph. I kinda felt like I sucked to be honest because I feel like I can run faster than that on a treadmill without a mask. But truthfully, the mask was tough for me. With anxiety and asthma, I had a little irrational fear about exerting so much effort with something on my face.
WHAT I LEARNED
Learning my heart rate zones was one of the goals and also finding out at which zones are best for fat burning ones and at what point my body switches over to carb burning. This knowledge is important because our bodies get glycogen depleted quickly at those carb burning levels and can result in the dreaded “bonk” all runners fear.
I was happy to learn that since doing similar testing at LifeTime Fitness 3 years ago (post foot fracture), my VO2 max has gone up from 46 (2015) to 50.1 (current) putting me in the highest category for fitness level. My Lactate Threshold occurs at the upper end of my zone 3 (about a heart rate of 156) and is 86% of my VO2 max. To learn more about VO2 max and Lactate Threshhold, I highly recommend this article from Active.
Knowing your LT and VO2 max is important because it can help you know what zones are best to train in to improve endurance pace (for me I know that’s my tempo pace or 15K pace 157-169). I also know the second I hit LT, I start burning carbohydrates so I will be playing around with incorporating healthy fats into my diet (not high in saturated fat) but more avacado and more eggs things like that.
SHOULD YOU GET TESTED?
If you’re a nerd like me, then yes. 🙂 But also if you are a recreational runner/athlete and are improving, there really is no need. The tests cost between $100-$300 depending on where you go and it’s highly recommended to redo them within 6 months if you want to see progress within the same year if you are training for something specific (i.e. I will want to redo my testing in September to see if my fitness has improved as I’ve marathon trained for Chicago). I do recommend it for those of you looking to progress in your running as the personalized test results could provide you with the adjustments you need to mix up your training and change your body composition to get to race weight. Local runners and athletes looking for more info about Triple Threat Tough testing, see here. The lactate/VO2 combo testing is $250 and includes an analysis, as well!
Have you ever had this kind of testing done? I’d love to hear what you learned and how you implemented the data!!! Comment below.