Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mystery of the Vo2Max

So, cardiovascular capacity is a measure of your body's ability to use oxygen to perform work. Every time we go out for a run, bike, swim...whatever, we are working. High fitness levels are indicated by a low resting heart rate and the ability to perform sustained aerobic exercise at a high level.

So, of course I had to turn to RED to assist me in translating my new found Vo2Max knowledge. Simply put she said: "You have some high mpg on your RBC 'bus', and lots of 'em."


She's so good at explaining things....

This morning I arrived at 7 AM for my Fitness Assessment. This portion of my assessment tested my VO2Max, Grip strength, Back Strength, and Sit Flexibility. All this paired with the BMI, Body Fat, and Resting Metabolism will assist them in helping me reach my fitness goals: lower BMI, lower body fat, higher VO2MAx, higher overall strength...AKA Wonder Woman status. Ok, not really but healthy, maybe a bit above just healthy. Above average. I am tired of being average.

So I spoke with the lady who was conducting my test for a good 20 min prior to starting. She asked lots of questions and listened. She was familiar with the Run Less, Run Faster program and this made me feel much better, knowing that she was knowledgeable about training and plans. She also said she had run a couple of marathons. In other words, she gets it.

She asked me what my good, comfortable pace is and I was a little stumped. I said 9 min/mile. I put on a heart rate monitor and she led me to the treadmill. She hooked me up to the mask and explained a little bit about what to expect. I was a little nervous, would I be able to do this? Would I have to run too fast for too long? I have no idea where these thoughts came from but I have always been frightened by the idea of this test and thought it would be hard. It was not.

I started out walking around a 2.5 mph pace. She would slowly increase the speed. It got awkward around 4.2 mph at the speed where your kind of like a crazed mall walker but not a shoplifter speed trying to get out fast but not too know what I mean? So I was happy when she punched it up to about 5 mph, then 5.4, 5.8. Each time there was a good 30-40 seconds (or more) between increases. It hit the 6 mph and I felt like this treadmill was on crack. 6 mph felt super fast. It was weird. She gave me bits of encouragement and told me I was doing really good. She kept increasing it and I kept running. I began to sweat and wondered how long it would take for me to hit my Vo2Max. I secretly hoped I could get my 5 mile workout in to knock out my run....that didn't happen. I don't think I even made it a mile. Maybe I did though? I have no idea.

She cranked it up to about 8 mph and then finally.....I hit my max. She slowly lowered the speed and I was instructed to go ahead and walk until my heart rate came down to about 100. It took no time at all for my heart rate to come down.

She then had me do a grip test, back strength test, and a flexibility test. All these are important for the overall fitness assessment.

The results of my Vo2Max came back pretty good. Excellent actually, points away from Superior.

My first question: How do I get to Superior?

Her answer: Interval training.

Pretty much if I keep up with the speed work and tempo runs prescribed in the RLRF plan I should see improvements in my Vo2Max. To recap, speed work helps to make your body more efficient at carrying oxygen rich blood to the muscles and removing the lactic acid from the muscles. Thus running faster for longer before dying.....

Here is my chart: You will see my score was 48.9 (3.6 away from Superior).


Notice the Peak Value: 9:30. I am going to strive to bring that comfortable pace down by OBX Marathon in November. I'm excited to follow my progress at 30, 60, and 90 day follow-up appointments. At each of these follow-ups they will redo each of the tests (Resting Metabolism, Bod Pod, Fitness Assessment).

A few people have asked me about the cost of this sort of testing and assessment. I wish I could give you all an answer but fortunately for me this is all covered by my healthcare or at least is a benefit offered to Active Duty Military and their dependents. Otherwise I am not sure I would fork over the $100-$300 for each assessment although it is very valuable information.


  1. I've wanted to get my VO2 max tested, but I'm not sure where I should go... I really appreciated the explanation in laymens terms about the buses - it made sense right away!

  2. Woohoo Wonder Woman!

    Awesome that you have access to this for free and good on you for taking advantage! It will be great to see the results.

  3. I am a VO2max NERD! Seriously ! I used to administer them all the time when I worked in the lab! Those of you above who were asking where to go...if you have a local university, see if they have an exercise science department. We offered VO2 max testing to the community at a fraction of the cost of private places. Same equipment and everything!

  4. Awesome!! Your scores look great!! Imagine how they will look 6" days from now!!


You're pretty much awesome!!


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