Looking into lactate and V02

On January 10, 2017 I performed a Running Threshold V02max Test with lactate analysis.

cardio project

There are many ways I can use to measure my athletic performance (“cardio performance”). One of those ways is through V02 and lactate readings. And, just to be clear this is not all the story, because a test is only measuring one (or a few) dimension(s) of my overall body “fitness”. I will re-test in about 8 weeks to see my improvements within this specific test.

Why did I do this test? Why will I do it again?

I performed the test at the Peak Centre for Human Performance, a well-established centre for testing and training that has been around for 2 decades. I’m interested in reliability (consistency) and validity (the test measures what it claims to measure) of my performed test. Just to clarify, I mean reliability in the sense that they will use all the same instruments/machines on the next test and I suspect even the same exercise scientist. Validity, from the standpoint of having constantly calibrated machines, with same testing protocols and measurements done around the world on cardiac patients, all the way up to world class athletes.

peak centre

I want to see how my body adapts to training over time. At the age of 41 I’m not in it for any records, awards or accolades. It’s my own personal interest in the body from a ‘performance’ standpoint, starting at ground zero [basically, no running in 2 years]. It is also from a health standpoint by doing other activities that I will blog about at a later time.

This testing is for illustrative purposes-> to show changes in “fitness” levels as used by these specific marker points of lactate and V02.

What is lactate?

Lactate is a by-product of glucose utilization by the muscle cells. Lactate is constantly produced by the body, whether you are sleeping or sprinting all-out. The main job of lactate is to supply energy to muscle tissue. The cool thing about lactate is that it can be produced in one muscle and be transported to another muscle for utilization. Lactate helps delay the onset of fatigue and helps improve athletic performance. As the level of exercise intensity increases there is a corresponding increase in lactate production within the blood. When lactate production exceeds lactate resynthesis the body needs to remove it [it becomes a waste product]. This point is called the ‘lactate threshold’ and is an important athletic performance measurement. On my next test, I want to increase my efficiency in using lactate. Hence, I will be able to perform at a higher level of intensity with a lower lactate reading.

Example: Lactate readings in January, and what I want for March.

Speeds

Results- January 10, 2017Lactates

Example- March 10, 2017

Lactates

9 1.82 1.1
10

2.39

1.7

11 3.65 2.4
12 4.72 3.5
13 8.49 4.6
14  ___ 7.2

15

 ___

9.2

You can see all my results here: Kristin Marvin – Running VO2 – Jan 10th, 2017

I want all my lactates to lower at each consecutive speed. I would normally not change them that much; but, since I haven’t run in such a long time, I believe with a little training I will jump quite quickly at first.

Back to the lactate threshold: It is the gold standard for predicting endurance performance. What is my lactate threshold on this test? From the reading, it is zone 3 (11.8km to 13.0km). However, that is not giving the whole picture. If I can run a 10km in 45 minutes then my lactate threshold would need to be lower i.e. 11.0 km/hr. It is based on specificity of your event and needs to be adjusted accordingly.

My training the next couple of months will be mostly in zone 1 (aerobic base zone) for 90% of my time. And, to be honest, I won’t run that much. I will do many other things for my health, so I can perform my run (another blog soon). What does this mean? Lots of walking, whole body movements, and restorative exercise will fill my day. I will slowly build up my ability to run.

It’s just getting the “feel” of running back. Right now, it is SUPER hard for me to do. I’m not going to lie: it is incredibly uncomfortable! I’m only going to run 2 to 3 times a week.

What is V02max?

How much oxygen your body can consume.

Why do I care about V02max?

Just curiousity, that’s all. I was tested years ago, my V02max was in the high 60s. Aside from that it’s just a number and I don’t really care. It neither provides an indicator of performance nor health. It just tells you your ability to process the oxygen, it does not tell you how efficiently you put that oxygen to use. Two athletes can have a VAST difference in their V02max readings, yet the lower V02max athlete could win the race. An important factor in racing is what percentage of your V02max can you can sustain the longest. Also, V02max has nothing to do with cardiovascular disease (or very little).

During this test, I was not able to run to my V02max because my body was not ready for the pounding abuse. I just haven’t put in the running work. I hope to be able to run to my V02max next test. This is for my own goal, just to see my actual reading.

I got up to 44ml/kg/min in January. In March, I would like to get in the 50’s, at least!

_________

* In this blog I put a few words in quotes, like “cardio performance”, “fitness” because there’s a double meaning in them. A lot of people don’t understand the difference between health and performance. Hopefully over the next few blogs I can create a picture of the difference.

_________

If you haven’t seen the video of my test, here you go!

#cardioproject2017

Just for fun, this year, I decided to start a #cardioproject2017 because there are a lot of misconceptions about “cardio” within the fitness world, everyday life and cardiovascular health in general.

We are told to eat well, exercise, stop smoking, reduce our stress and maintain a healthy weight. That’s all you have to do! GREAT, then why are so many “healthy” people affected by cardiovascular disease?

In order to DO cardio, we are told to exercise X/wk for X amount of time. Is “exercise” the answer? If not, then what?

How does the cardiovascular system work in the first place?

If I feel good, then that must mean I’m fine with regards to my CV health, right?!

If I run (or do any sport/activity) then my cardio is fine!

What is the difference between performance (recreational to elite athletes) and health (overall cardio health)?

Without seeing a doctor what are things I can do to tell if my cardio is up to par? What can I do to help my cardio, period?

If I am at risk (genetics), what can I do? If I have a heart defect or abnormality at birth what can I do?

These are just a few questions I will touch upon throughout this year.

Let’s start off with RUNNING! I am sure almost everyone will agree that running has come up in their life, defined as an activity to increase cardio. Absolutely, sure it does. But, to what extent? Are there better ways to increase your cardio aside from pounding the kms/miles? And, if you LOVE running how can you make it a safer, healthier option of cardio work.

Last week I did a V02 and Lactate run test to have a starting point for my “fitness cardio”. Here’s snippets of the test.

Brian, Senior Sport Scientist/ Head Sport Performance Coach, testing my V02 and lactates at Peak Centre for Human Performance. Evan, Sport Scientist Intern, helping out and Kevin, rolling the camera! I used the Splice app through GoPro for this video.

I started slow and did not go to V02max. My body was not ready for the pounding (only ran ~10 times in the last 2 years) on my body or the speed. However, I did get enough information to continue on with my #cardioproject2017. Please click on the link below to see my results.

Kristin Marvin – Running VO2 – Jan 10th, 2017

My results: What the heck do they mean? I will go through that over the next little while in upcoming posts. I will say a few personal thoughts on my test.

As a former runner it is extremely tough and humbling to view my results. It was my life in high school (over 20 years ago) and I dabbled in it on and off over the years. Last time was in the summer of 2011, where I ran 2-3 times a week and did some triathlons.

I’m doing this for various reasons. To show running is not enough. And to make sure everyone understands that if they are a runner or an athlete in another sport does not equate to overall cardiovascular health.

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My right toe, post surgery exercises

Last week I spoke about my fear of movement in 2016, even though I travelled doing a LOT of activities.

My fear was due to a surgery on my right toe [Cheilectomy- removing bony spurs from phalanx and metatarsal]. I had on December 8, 2015. Please see previous post for more detail (My fear of movement).

When taking care of my right toe there are an abundant of corrective exercises I can do to ameliorate the health of my toe. And, it’s more than just working on my toe itself. Whole body movement helps just as much as singling out my toe!

Here is a video of some toe exercises I do.

These are exercises I DO… it does not necessarily mean they are the best for you.

ALL exercises can be done for 30 seconds up to 2 minutes (or to your own time). I decided to go through them quite quickly to show you a myriad of them.

1. TOE TRACTION

OMGoodness. If I could have someone traction my toe on a daily basis I would. I absolutely LOVE the feel of it. Whether it’s traction with a direct pull, or circular or external/internal rotation, I honestly can’t get enough of it. [Note: This is NOT the same thing as adjusting your toes. It’s traction, slowly].

2. TOE EXTENSION with hands

Trying to keep the knuckle in one place {with one hand} while extending the toe at its base {with the other hand}, seeing and feeling your range of motion. This is a great start if standing in toe extension is too hard for you. You never want to overdo it.

3. TOE FLEXION while sitting on floor

Instead of having full force on your toes while standing, this is a nice alternate, applying as much or as little pressure as you want. We forget that toe extension relates to toe flexion. Both need to be healthy!

4. ELEVATED TOE FLEXION with towel, blanket, or half dome

This is quite intense, and I would ease into it for sure. It feels sooooo good after! You can hang out while watching TV if you want! Obviously, seconds, then minutes. No need to overdo it.

5. DORSIFLEXION with FORCED TOE EXTENSION

Always listen to your toe. Overdoing this is easy… I always take my time and advance with caution on this exercise.

6. CALF RAISES OR LOWERS

Focus on the toes!!!! Slow up, slow down, fast up, fast down, holds up or in middle… anything and everything. All of this with EmPhAsiS on TOES. Two legs, one leg, it’s alllllll good!

7. TOP OF FOOT STRETCH

Love this stretch, because it goes all the way up my lower leg. A lot of people feel like it’s a balance exercise too. If it’s hard for you to balance, initially hold on to something to ease the shakes. Try not to contort your foot, have it directly back and apply weight.

8. PLAY

You can play around with both feet/toes to see differences in ROM, etc. Always be careful, AND do WORK! If it’s too easy you won’t get anywhere. Tissue repair is driven by MOVEMENT and LOADING, not by rest.

 

 

My Fear of Movement

2016 was a world wind of a year for me, with lots of activity!

I started off by training for the Rottnest Channel Swim, the infamous 19.7km event from Cottesloe beach to Rottnest Island. As a Canadian living in Perth, Australia it was imperative for me to do such a quintessential Western Oz adventure. Besides, I only lived 2km from the ocean; and, 5k from Sorrento Surf Life Saving Club, where I’m a member. I was in the water LOTS!

start-of-5kswim

January 5km prep                                                February Rotto swim

After February 27th, the Swim (what ended up being a 23km+ swim because of current and bad sighting) I started to walk, walk a lot and hike. I walked the beaches, the footpaths, and the forests/parks within the area.

foot-walking-on-rocksfootpath

 

 

 

 

Walking in Perth and the surrounding area

In August, I moved back to North America and proceeded to walk/hike as much as possible in local, provincial, state, national parks around. I walked/hiked in Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec.

oregon-washington

washingtonrhode-island

squamish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

        Top to bottom, left to right: Oregon, Washington, Rhode Island, British Columbia

 

Yet, no matter how much I walked… I was really walking away from my fear… my fear of movement in one part of my body that needed it the most: My right foot/toe.

toe                                                         My right toe minutes before surgery Dec 8, 2015

 

I know this sounds kind of funny… Of course you moved ALL year Kristin! How can you say: you fear movement?

I had surgery on my right foot December 2015. After years of excruciating pain I finally decided to go under the knife (well, it was actually power tools!). It was an extremely hard decision to make, that I did not take lightly. I just thought it was the best thing I could do because any foot movement I did was painful! I wanted to live with less pain, not feeling my bones hitting each other with every toe move (one bone spur from metatarsal to phalanx, and another bone spur from phalanx to metatarsal, both hitting each other daily). I knew there was a risk of me coming out worse off, or the same… I took the chance.

The surgery went well (I’ll post a blog on this specifically soon), and I was limited in foot movement for 2 weeks while I heeled (stitches and all). I was told that it would take a full year to slowly move my toe through its range of motion. “It won’t ever be 100%, but it will be pretty good”, I was told.

I’ve broken bones, been sown up with stitches in many places, had cysts removed, been hit head on by a car resulting in concussion, whiplash and short term memory loss for 8 months; still, this particular situation [toe surgery] was different. I was so scared and worried bone spurs would re-emerge again. Whenever my toe felt uncomfortable, I stopped doing my exercises. After less than a month of work, I let it be. I did exactly what I was NOT suppose to do. I swam and walked away from fear… yet, movement was the only thing that could and can fix my toe!

These are some photos I took in November 2016. My right toe extension is quite limited. I did not do the work necessary to get as much range of motion as possible for a better, healthier body.

toe-extension

Every single part of my body is important, especially if I want my body to work as a whole unit. My lack of toe extension since summer 2001 has caused me many compensations over the years. From ankles to knees to hips, from joints to connective tissues to bone, my body has changed. In addition, pain set in early, increasing my nociception and decreasing my proprioception, highlighting my change in movement patterns unconsciously.

Small, microscopic changes over time can lead to significant alterations. My hip extension is different on both sides, my pelvis is slightly rotated, left femur overly internally rotated, muscles (like psoai, adductors and glutes) don’t have the same strengths, etc. I know we are all never perfectly symmetrical; but, I also know my toe has altered my body.

I am responsible for my movements and my overall wellbeing. Since I am doing my #cardioproject2017 this year, I have to be hyper vigilant about my toe. Running magnifies my compensations; therefore, I need to do my due diligence to ensure the health of my toe (hence, my body).

It is through movement that I will do this, not rest->Loading my joints<-. It’s never an easy task. Just because I had surgery on my toe doesn’t mean my “issue(s)” are magically gone, or will never return. A massive amount of work needs to be done.

Next post…. what am I doing for my toe!

Simple Recovery Tips for Runners

Tip # 1: Have your bed closer to the ground


bed
HOW SIMPLE IS THAT!!!

Runners are notoriously bad at getting into, getting out of, and ‘hanging out’ in a squat position. Why not give yourself that wonderful extra movement every single day for the rest of your life?! You might think, pfft- that’s nothing.

Up in morning, down at night, up to pee, down to sleep. You can add in naps. Either way at the very least you are squatting up and down 365 more times a year than you ever have! If you want to geek out, you can even measure the distance from your ass to the bed to see today how little range of motion you are using right now and slowly change over time.

We often think that our bodies are complicated and too hard to change, yet we don’t make the easiest changes imaginable because “why bother, it won’t make a difference”, “that looks bad in my bedroom”, “I’m not camping!”, “there’s no need for this”, add in any excuse, whatever you want.

Let’s face it, our lives are getting more sedentary and it’s crucial to find ways in which our bodies will move well for as long as we are here… And not just ‘be functional’ in our sport. Being functional only in your sport is exactly what’s going to get you into trouble in the first place.

AND, if you are having a super busy week and can’t run or workout, you still get your squats in! OR, if you are sick, tired, can’t be bothered… you STILL get your squats in!

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It’s all about making movement matter, all day/ everyday, daily positions we hold and skeletal alignment that make a significant impact on our health and performance.