Thursday, March 24, 2011

Broken lab equipment and heat == suffering and results

As I mentioned yesterday, I went out to Springfield College last night to take a lactate threshold test. This test is used to give you guidance on how to train within certain heart rate zones; basically giving you a metric for determining how hard your training was that day for your body and not just basing it on how you felt during that particular workout.

I was really excited to participate in this test for a few reasons; It was being run by a twitter buddy ShaunaSmash, who is using the test as part of her graduation project for school. Aside from being better able to match my training guidelines, it also gives me guidance as to where my current "redline" is as for what I can sustain. I want to avoid going too anaerobic for too long, especially as I'm building up my training base.

The test itself is pretty simple; the person administering the test draws a drop of blood to measure the lactic acid in your blood. Then you warm up on the bike (or treadmill if you're testing your run threshold) for 5 minutes. At the end of the warmup, you go as hard as you can sustain for 20 minutes. Or at least it's supposed to be about 20 minutes (6 miles).

Unfortunately, the computrainer system being used for the lab was not recording information properly; the MPH was wildly inaccurate, the wattage output was at least 30% low (and possibly more), and even the RPMs were probably in doubt. So, a lot of the information I would have expected to have learned yesterday was mostly useless.

However, because I brought my own heart monitor and because the lactate measuring device was working, I was able to get heart rate results and blood lactate measurements. Because Shauna was performing the test with a different goal in mind, I didn't get the ramped blood results every few minutes to base zones on, but based on the pace i set early in the ride, the lactate buildup i could feel in my legs, my heart rate, and the blood readings, my lactate threshold would appear to be around 3.8mM and most importantly 165 BPM while cycling.

Using this information I can set my zones properly for my training, and understand how far I can push myself and still stay on the safe side. The cost of this information was a good bit of pain, as the computer was recording speed so slowly that it took me 34:30 to ride 6 miles basically going close to as hard as I could go, and in a room with no fan so I was super hot. Thankfully, the prior participant and Shauna's testing bore out that there's no way that was accurate. (edited because the sentence that used to be here was rude): I'm glad the machine was wrong, because it made me feel like I wasn't even close to what I have done in the past.


  1. Ha! 36:00 for six miles sounds about right for me - no joke... um... shuffleboard? Sure... Seriously, though, I've always wanted to take a lactate threshold and VO2 max test. How cool! Too bad the equipment wasn't cooperating. Are you planning a re-do?

  2. Im such a jerk. Im very sorry for framing it that way. Ill fix it.

  3. Ha ha, no worries, I thought it was funny! Give me 2 years of training and I'll be kicking ass too, :)

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