Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Had the opportunity to complete a VO2max test this morning. I was a "biological standard" for our metabolic cart at work. I've done this test probably 50 times since grad school. It's a perk to my occupation and something I enjoy picking over when the test is finished. Geekdom at it's finest.
The body is an amazing machine. This is true at rest and especially during exercise. The numerous adaptions that occur on the cellular level are quite remarkable. I often find myself thinking through the journey of oxygen to my starving muscles during agonizing moments of pain while racing my bike.
Ambient air sucked in with a quick shallow breath through the mouth, down the trachea, to the bronchiolles and the alveoli, transferred over to the heme of the red blood cells and off to the heart via the pulmonary vein, dumped in the left atrium and then the left ventricle, pumped through the aorta and subsequent smaller arteries, eventually reaching the capillaries surrounding the muscles where it is exchanged for CO2. It all happens rather fast. Sometimes not fast enough...anaerobic.
The VO2max test is a great training tool as it indicates exactly where I hit my anaerobic threshold (well, at least at the ventilatory level). Workload and heartrate can be correlated with the anaerobic threshold to allow for more effective training. For example, if one were getting ready for a highly anaerobic event such as cyclocross, training at or near the anaerobic threshold would be very beneficial by increasing the amount of work (watts) prior to reaching AT. The goal is to increase the AT compared to the percentage of the VO2max. Which means you can go longer and harder before hitting the wall.
Now, I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to "training". I don't like to train and prefer to just enjoy riding my bike. As an exercise physiologist I know better, but I am a complete hypocrit in regards to preparing for cycling events.
Maybe I should bust out the heartrate monitor.