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Posts tagged ‘VO2 max’

The Power of Suggestion

Anna Mikulak, Association for Psychological Science

Across many studies, research has shown that deliberate suggestion can influence how people perform on learning and memory tasks, which products they prefer, and how they respond to supplements and medicines, which accounts for the well-known placebo effect.

But what can explain the powerful and pervasive effect that suggestion has in our lives? The answer lies in our ‘response expectancies,’ or the ways in which we anticipate our responses in various situations. These expectancies set us up for automatic responses that actively influence how we get to the outcome we expect. Once we anticipate a specific outcome will occur, our subsequent thoughts and behaviors will actually help to bring that outcome to fruition.

Today my workout was 6X1200 meter repeats at half marathon pace (6:51/mile) with one minute rest in between. Compared to intervals at 5K pace, this seemed like a walk in the park and as with all of my track workouts to date, I was faster than what I should be doing. But in my mind, it’s what feels right so I go with it. During my second interval I started to wonder if my coach was getting mad that I wouldn’t stick to goal pace. So during my minute break, I asked Is it bad that I’m running 6:40 pace? He told me no since I wasn’t really working that hard to maintain the pace. Then his next few statements kind of changed what I thought I was capable of as a runner. Read more

Running with a Heart Rate Monitor

Per my Google+ friend Otto’s suggestion, I decided to do my long run this weekend with a heart rate monitor.  Another factor in my decision to do this was Brian from my VO2 test on Friday. He suggested I do my long runs at a pace where my heart rate was no more than 155 bpm. In the spirit of learning more about my body, I decided to go for it. Even if the pace seems too slow, it’s all to help me be a better runner. I’ll consider it a learning experience.

Friday I did a really bad job prepping for a Saturday 20 miler. I was uncertain if I would be running that far mainly because my leg was still a little sore. I slept in a little late and didn’t get out the door until 7:30 (and 78 degrees). My heart rate alert was set to 155 bpm and off I went. After only 3 minutes of running, my Garmin was beeping. That was quick. Throughout the entire run, my watch must have beeped no less than 100 times. I really have been overdoing it on my long runs.

My goal was not to look at the pace but only my heart rate. Once I let go of my obsession with the miles per minute, my run became sooo easy. I didn’t care how fast (or slow) I was going, which made the run much more enjoyable. Every time I started up a hill, beep. I had a reason to slow down and my body couldn’t have been more thankful. Everything about the run was less stressful. I didn’t hate the hills because I got to slow down. I wasn’t cursing the 90 degree weather, only thankful that I was getting a tan. My concern was the 155 bpm.

My pace per mile ended up being about a 1 1/2 minutes slower than normal, which according to many running sources, is about right. And thanks to my slower running, I was able to run without any pain in my leg. I only made it 17 miles and that was fine with me. Considering my improper nutrition and the heat, I still considered it a successful run. This morning I got in another 3.5 miles and felt great the entire time.

These past few days have proven to be a very valuable learning experience. First, my VO2 test showed me that I am pretty fit and if I train smarter, I can race better. Second, I came to understand the importance of slower running yesterday. It also helped me to appreciate running without the stress of feeling like I had something to prove.

Thanks Otto and Brian! I think I’ll be using my HR monitor a little more to keep me in check on the easy days.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,



Photor Source: Johntasdale, Wikimedia Commons

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,



VO2 Max Testing

This past June at a friend’s wedding, I was chatting with a girl who works with Duke University.  She mentioned her lab needed volunteers for a stress test and for a VO2 max test.  I couldn’t give her my phone number fast enough.  This was like a Christmas present, but 6 months earlier and it was free! I’ve always wanted to be hooked up to a machine while running really fast at an incline just so I can learn my VO2 max, max heart rate, and all of the other things those machines can tell you. A few years ago I actually researched where I could get this done in the Raleigh area.  Thankfully I waited because now I’m getting it done free of charge 🙂

This will be a two day process. Tomorrow I’m going to get a stress test. I was told this would be fairly easy and short. Friday is when I get to do the fun stuff. I first have to go through the second part of the stress test and then afterwards, they are going to do my “max test” as Brian told me over the phone this afternoon.  I wasn’t really sure what all this included so I called back to the lab on my way home to clarify.  Basically I was told that once I went through the 8-12 minute test, they could tell me anything I wanted to know.  Max heart rate, VO2 max, aerobic threshold, lactate threshold, heart rate training zones – anything. This is the best back to school present I could have ever asked for!!!  It’s kind of bizarre how excited I am about this.  Maybe because I think this will tell me how “fit” I really am and what I am really capable of accomplishing.  I’ll know and understand exactly what my body can do. Be on the lookout for a recap of how it went after Friday.

I get distracted by my earphones on my iPod. I hope I can deal with this 🙂

Photo Source

Happy Trails and Happy Running,



Interval Training – Embrace the Pain

I’ve been thinking all day about what exactly I was going to say about intervals for this blog post.  There is just so much to say, it’s practically impossible to cover it all.  From tabata intervals and mile repeats,  to Emil Zatopek’s unconventional approach to training.  Intervals make us faster and although they suck, they are oh so worth it.  For example, even though I’ve had a month off from running, Read more