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My VO2 Max Test

Well yesterday I finally got to do my VO2 max test. For some reason, I was nervous the entire day. In my mind, I was prepping myself for this incredibly hard, intense, 8-10 minute run. The entire way over to Duke I listened to Eminem to pump  myself up. When I finally got to the office, I asked Brian and Barbara no less than 100 questions. Once they explained to me that the bulk of the work was going to be done in the “somewhat hard” area, I felt much better. No all out sprinting for 10 minutes. We were going to be working towards the “incredibly hard” zone. That was much more manageable mentally and it was nowhere near as hard as I thought it was going to be.

After the QA test, we got ready for the max test. Hooked up to 12 electrodes with a a mouth piece and my nose clipped shut (by far the most uncomfortable part), we went straight into the run. It wasn’t a hard pace and I told them to go faster. Instead, they decided to keep the pace the same and increase the incline. About every minute or so the incline went up 1-2%. Physically, it wasn’t that hard. But I continually got distracted by a cord that was hitting my legs, the blood pressure cuff they took off while I was running, and the fact that my mouth was super dry and my nose was pinched shut. I was running at an 11% incline and about 11 minutes into I tapped the bar to stop. I know I didn’t hit my max and Brian agreed. When it was over, I felt fine, not out of breath, and if I compare the test to my 5K effort, my 5K effort is way more difficult. I want a redo… 🙂

So how did I do? When they started looking at my numbers, I was told I did incredibly well.  My predicted VO2 max was 37.3, which means 37.3 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute consumed. I measured 60.5 ml/kg/min. According to this chart, anything over 41 is considered “superior.” Now I definitely don’t consider myself superior, but it did make me feel good when Brain told me elite women measure between 65-70. And I know there are  a lot of articles out there that state VO2 max isn’t that big of a factor in determining performance.  However, my 60.5 made me feel like the many years of running had helped me to develop a pretty efficient heart and cardiovascular system. I wonder what it would have been if I went for 1 more minute at a higher incline.

Yesterday on the way to work, I realized that for over 10 years, I have never gone 1 week without running or some other form of a cardio workout.  When I studied abroad in  Mexico and Spain, I found my running route. While in the Mexico last summer, I made Mario run along the highway with me because the beach was too slanted and I needed to run. After breaking my collarbone on my wedding night (apparently having your friends of varying heights lift you up in a chair is a REALLY bad idea), I was at the gym biking by Wednesday. And a little over 1 week after my fall, I was running through Switzerland. I actually was thinking yesterday that maybe I should just take a week off and not do any running, biking, etc. Maybe my body would like a  break. Then after my VO2 test yesterday, when I saw how all of that hard work has put me  into a “superior” category, forget taking that week off. I want to try harder.

I’m glad I did the test and it was a real confidence booster. I know I could have gone longer and harder, but I’m very happy with what I learned yesterday. Hopefully if Brian and Barbara ever need to do another QA test, I can volunteer and we can do another max test. It’s always easier when you know what to expect.

Way more scientific than the treadmill at the gym


Lance Armstrong measures 84. I have a ways to go 🙂


Happy Trails and Happy Running,



3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Brian #

    Good to hear about the heart rate monitor. To clarify, the 155 bpm limit was for easy runs and could be used for some of your long runs. Other long runs that are supposed to mimic race day should be at higher HRs. We’d have to look closer at your data to figure out the appropriate HR ranges for you. Great test overall and we’ll do one again sometime. Good luck with marathon training! Brian

    September 12, 2012

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