Friday, October 24, 2008

Finding Out My Max

So really not a whole lot to report from the camp of Runner Leana. I swam Thursday morning and there wasn't anything really noteworthy about it. This weekend I'm running and biking, but both workouts are short and high intensity. After that, the hard work preparing for the WDW Marathon starts. This is definitely going to be the most intensely I will have trained for a marathon, including when I was training for the Goofy Challenge last year! My running days will increase from three to four (although the fourth run will be optional), I'll be dialing back the strength training slightly, but I'll be adding in a few more spins on the bike (like some short recovery stuff after a long run on Saturday), and I'll be moving from hill training to speed work. I think I'm up for the challenge! I'm not sure when the mental shift happened for me - that racing wasn't going to be just about finishing, but on improvement and goal setting. It is definitely going to make for some interesting times ahead!
So where is all this high intensity stuff coming from? You may have noticed that I've started paying attention to my heart rate during workouts. My mom had a Garmin 305 and since she wasn't using her heart rate monitor I swapped my 205 with her so I could start keeping track. When I started with coach we talked about me going for VO2 Max testing, just so I could see where my strengths were and where I needed to improve. Since I'm an engineer I find the science behind sport and performance pretty interesting stuff, so I was game to see where I was at. If you haven't had your VO2 Max tested, you put a mask on so that what you exhale can be analyzed to determine how the chemical composition changes as you start to work harder. You strap a heart rate monitor on as well. My test was done on a treadmill. The speed was kept constant at a 10:00/mi pace, but every minute the incline was increased by 2%. You kept running until you just couldn't do it anymore. I think the test typically lasts anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes for most people.
What I wound up finding out is that I am super efficient at low heart rate, low intensity stuff. As soon as it gets to the point where I need to push myself in the anaerobic zone things fall apart as I have pretty little capacity there (you can see my zone 1 and 2 are pretty large, but 3 and 4 are pretty thin). So running a long time at a really slow pace isn't going to help me anymore. If I want to improve I need to push things into the uncomfortable zone and that is where I have the most gains to make. So that explains some of the shift in my training!
And oh was time to say bye-bye to blonde again and I'm officially back to brunette. No photographic evidence yet though!


Laurel said...

Good luck on your new training! I'm sure you are going to rock out the new plan!

Run For Life said...

That's really cool! Good luck with the new training plan.

Sonia said...

You are a training machine my friend! So jealous you can tackle all of this! You're going to rock your 3rd marathon!

ShirleyPerly said...

Interesting! I've not done a VO2 test but have always been told by my tri club coach that my lactate threshold tests indicate I need a lot more zone 1 or slow running in order to get faster. No complaints ;-)

Nikki said...

Mike and I have been planning to go do this too - interesting to see the results graph. It will be even more interesting to go have it done again in the future to see how your zones have changed! It's pretty cool to see the science behind why you have to push yourself, right?