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!

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* 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.

Join the ride on:

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Five Tips for X-Country Runners

TIP #1: Do some fancy footwork EVERYDAY

Having strong and healthy feet relate to your ENTIRE body health. I am sure you don’t want to get injured this year?! Get those shoes off and work your feet for 5 minutes a day, it’ll save you a lot of heart ache later on!

 

TIP #2: Do whole body mobility/movement

Running only requires ~20% of your musculature. What’s happening to the rest of your body? There’s some SERIOUS underuse.

The cardiovascular system relies on ALL your muscles to pump the blood (nutrient rich => oxygen) to all the cells in your body. If you JUST run you’re in for a lot of hurt later on in life.

AND just because you’re an Olympic calibre runner does not prevent you from CVD. It’s all about making movement matter in your ENTIRE body not just the parts you need to run.

Ask yourself everyday: have I MOVED today? If you haven’t I would move first (yes, as a priority!) before you decide to run.

Move runner move!

 

TIP #3: Walk for recovery

With all new gadgets and experts talking about everything you can do… it really can be as simple as walking more for better recovery and better health. We were meant to move a LOT throughout the day. Not just once a day (aka during your workout). It’s all about making movement matter

 

 

TIP #4: Wear less

Our goose bump muscles (arrector pili) are just as important as any other muscle in the body. USE them!

Your body is set up for self thermoregulation. If you are constantly trying to be “comfortable” with your body temperature you are achieving the exact opposite with extra clothes and/or heat.

And that’s also why, especially during colder months, it’s important to constantly move throughout the day! We are suppose to anyway.

Whether you are training or not be a little bit uncomfortable to regain optimal health.

 

 

Tip #5: Plumb line your way up those hills while keeping your ribs down to engage your glutes and hamstrings instead of exasperating your hip flexor/ quad dominant lifestyle.

Give yourself a better grade exercising!

We all have our favourite exercise {or the exercise we feel we need to do in order to be healthy}… however, are you getting good grades with that exercise?! A lot of us humans live in cities with flat sidewalks, streets, paths, trails and only go to gyms, studios, boxes that are FLAT. All this flat movement skews our bodies.

It sucks when you feel flat all the time, right? That’s exactly what your cells think too! Except they decide to move to a different location or die based on your movements (or lack thereof) throughout the day. We insist our body to do A, B, C, D… all the way to Z for us when we ask it; yet, we have not carried out “F” movement on a daily basis in years! ALL joint ranges of motion are important, and today I will just highlight ankle and hip movement. Watch this video!

Hills, slopes, mountains, anything that has a gradient for your body to work differently is a plus! We need flats AND hills for overall body health! If you can’t find a slope during the week because you are too darn busy with work, then please find out on the weekends. Two days is better than no days.

Your body functions E.X.A.C.T.L.Y. how YOU moved it to function since conception. It’s all about Making Movement Matter everyday. Enjoy your body in as many movements as possible!

Your everyday butt and hamstring strengthener

How many times have you heard or been told that you need to work on your butt and hamstrings?

As runners we need those muscle groups in order to run well and run fast, right? 😉

There are a plethora of exercises catered to the glute-hamstring complex that it’s honestly hard to keep up! Perhaps you have done one or several of these: the fire hydrant, donkey kick, clamshells, bridge lifts, lunges, deadlifts,  hip hike, frankenstein walk, lunges, squats, leg curls, single leg lifts, TRX hamstring pull-ins, good mornings, kettle bell swings, etc.

Instead of constantly worrying about doing exercises 1 to 5 of your butt/hamstring strengthening program, how about starting with the basics? Like, can you actually use your butt and hamstrings for normal day to day functioning. Most people have lost their ability to do the simplest of movements with their bodies. Seriously! Just try sitting down and standing up from a chair. Can you do it… now, do it properly!

 

 

This is what 99% of you do: instantly bring their knees forward sitting down and standing up. If you don’t think you do ask someone to watch you! This way of sitting and standing messes with your knees, increases hip tension, focuses on quad dominance (which we have too much anyway), and uses very little butt and hamstrings. {Can you hear my KNEES?! I have had that degeneration since I was 15 years old because I was moving incorrectly. I am moving better, 4 years in, today than ever… slowly getting my body back to optimal health}.

 

Get someone to actually look at you do this. Keep your lower leg perpendicular to the ground [NO forward knee movement]. It’s harder than you think. I am still working on it! This simple day to day movement, done properly activates your glute and hamstring muscles while making them stronger! YEAH, you are getting a butt/hammy workout without taking away from your normal day to day routine.

Imagine if you did this every single day, all day long: getting in and out of the car, in and out of bed, up and down from chairs (breakfast, lunch, dinner, school, work, meetings, sport bench, home, couch), etc. You would have a great butt and hammies!

Sure we can make it more complicated than that…. AND we can make it easy. It boils down to: Can you actually do this? Doing it without momentum? Without any aids? You can modify it with extra cushions to make it easier or drop it down to stool height for more of a squat… either way it’s still helping your cause.