Having recovered sufficiently from my VO2 max test to understand spoken English, I sat down with exercise physiologist Mike Siemens to examine the results.
Mike explained the uses of the test: to measure work potential, general health and wellness, performance, and efficiency of exercise. He went over a number of ways to increase VO2 max, most of which involved various physiological mutations such as enlarging my left ventricle or increasing my capillary density. I figured if I could do these things, I might as well get the red bodysuit and yellow boots.
But Mike was just setting me up. A practical way to increase VO2 max is to reduce body fat. Clearly I was going to be walking that “last mile” to the weight room, probably with a priest performing last rites for company.
So I was prepared for the worst when Mike showed me the multi-column printout with my results. My heart rate maxed at 185. I burned a max of 3.9 liters of oxygen per minute. But what was the magic number? My VO2 max was 56.
Is that good?
Mike pulled out a table from the American College of Sports Medicine’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription that utilized data from a Cooper Institute longitudinal study. My VO2 max put me in the top 10 percent of my age group, and probably the top 5 percent. In fact, I would be in the top 10 percent of males in their 20s.
Mike had another table that estimated potential 10K time based solely on VO2 max. He told me the table suggested I currently had the aerobic potential to run about a 42:30 10K.
I turned around quickly to see who was laughing so loudly, but it was me.
My 10K PR is 47:09. Mike emphasized that running is more than processing oxygen, and many factors affect speed. But obviously there was some room for improvement.
The printout provided one more crucial bit of information. It showed that at marathon pace I was burning 1,100 calories per hour. This led us into a long discussion about glycogen and anaerobic threshold, but the practical application of this knowledge would have to wait for my meeting with the nutritionist.
Next up: The remedies begin with a morning run.