VO2max and Lactate vs Pace Tests

On 04Mar2016 I was lucky enough to get free tests as part of a study into marathon pacing led by Dan Gordon at Anglia Ruskin University, supported by The Flying Runner. In exchange I'll have to submit my heart rate data from the London Marathon -- an excellent bargain for gaining this marvellous physiological insight, and I look forward to being a datapoint in some papers, presentations and maybe PhD theses having done this!

If you also participated in the ARU marathon pacing study, click here for a utility to get heart rate data in CSV format from Garmin Connect data.

Here I am doing my stuff -- not a flattering shot! -- I'm wired up to an ECG to monitor my heart; the mask is so that my O2 consumption and presumably my CO2 production can be monitored; the bandage round my chest is to keep a second heart rate strap in place; and the harness is to trip out the treadmill if I fall over. Some other sensor (for cadence?) is stuck to the back of one shoe. You can't see that I'm clutching a tissue in my left hand to avoid dripping blood over the treadmill from my repeatedly punctured finger...

Thumbs up -- probably not going very fast at this point (now you can see the tissue!):

Close-up of all the instrumentation weirdness:

A brief video snippet can be found here.

First stage was a blood lactate versus running pace experiment. For that I had to run 3 mins at each speed (11 kph, 12 kph, ... 18 kph -- I don't think I could have done 3 mins at 19 kph, and remember there was no wind resistance here), with a quick pause for a blood test after each. The headline from this is that my lactate currently takes off at about 16 kph, i.e. 6 min/mile, which is worryingly close to my marathon pace aspirations:

Dan also held up a 1 to 10 scale on which I should indicate how involved I was with the running at each pace... needless to say the score on this went up considerably at 18 kph.

After a walking break of 7 mins on the treadmill, it was time for the VO2max test. This started at 16 kph with a 1% upward slope, with an automatic increase in gradient of 1% per minute until I couldnae take no more, cap'n. I didn't feel I lasted too long on this, already a bit hammered from the lactate experiment, but finally gave up at about 63 ml/kg/min and I briefly saw 162 bpm on the display as my final maximum heart rate (my redline is at a pretty low "rpm", which may not be a good thing performance-wise).

The Report

I don't think there's anything desperately confidential in this, so here's the full gen:

Here's the full report.

Overall, I was a bit surprised by the results: I thought I would have poor peak power (VO2max), but good running economy (efficiency) -- based on my observation that in races, people always drop me going uphill, when absolute power is required, but I regain places going downhill where efficient fast running wins. The results show that my power wasn't too bad for an old gent after all, but my efficiency wasn't amazingly high either -- which is good in a way, as that is something I have scope to improve!

Garmin Log

I didn't remember to start this until a couple of minutes into the test, but here's what my Garmin 920XT made of it (just acting as a fancy pedometer -- it thought I was going faster as the treadmill inclination increased for example, which wasn't true, but it does pretty well overall at estimating merely from cadence I think). No heart rate data because I wasn't wearing my own HRM strap:

Garmin log

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