New Adventures in Training – Lactate Testing and Fancy Gadgets!
Lactate Testing with Peak Centre
About a month ago I did a couple of things out of the ordinary. First, I signed up for some Lactate Threshold testing and second, I bought a fancy new watch which is way fancier than my Timex.
Lactate Threshold testing is essentially used to find your Lactate threshold (the point at which your body stops clearing lactate as effectively) and to find your training zones, of which there are 5. I have avoided any formal testing for years because I thought it would take the fun out of training. Also, the tests are usually conducted on a treadmill, which is my nemesis, but since it was being offered I thought it might be a good chance to check it out.
The test was done at The Run Centre. I nervously show up, worried that the test might show I’m totally unfit and afraid I’ll embarrass myself on the treadmill. On the other hand, I also thought it might give me some goals to work towards as I really want to improve my ability to climb uphill. So Peak Centre put me on a treadmill for 10 minutes to warm up at a very easy speed and then pricked my finger to collect a blood sample in order to determine my baseline. I’m very, very comfortable at slow paces, but really not so comfortable once the speed goes up, which showed pretty clearly on my test I think! When the real test started and they slowly began to increase the speed. It already felt like a lot! The test was to run at 2.5 minutes at each speed 3 or 4 times. Each time the speed went up by 2 kilometres per hour and then they pricked my finger at the end of each 2.5 minutes. Then it increased by one kilometre an hour each minute until I said stop!
I learned is that I have what they call a “squished” profile and that my max heart rate is not very high! Essentially it told me that my worst nightmare has come true and that it’s going to make training “unfun” if I want to improve my overall speed. I need to “suck it up buttercup” and re-acquaint myself with my good friend the treadmill once per week to do the most horrifying, painful intervals I can make myself do!! But since I’m like most people and I’m a goal oriented person and I want to show improvement when I get re-tested, I’m doing it! I learned that we should do the bulk of our training in Zone 1 which I already knew, and then I learned that Zone 2 and 4 are generally “junk miles” unless you are doing certain types of training. Zone 3 is where most people should do their speed work. The “squished profile” people like me who don’t have much room between the end of Zone 1 and the end of Zone 5, need to try to stretch that out by running at or above our max heart rate for some short intervals.
Fancy New Watch
So, insert fancy new watch. For a few races in my future, Tor Des Geants and Dragonsback, I require an altimeter and GPS, which I could get in many forms, but since all the cool kids had them I thought I would try out the Suunto Ambit Peak. I would use the fancy heart rate function to figure out if I happen to be doing a lot of junk miles and if this was going to make training “unfun” and I was going to have to start doing all my training runs by myself!
Turns out, I’m A-okay! My training runs with my buddies put me below my Zone 1 heart rate which means I can keep my training buddies around and not get into “junk mile” category, what a relief. I’ve learned that it takes a lot of work for me to even get to my Zone 1 heart rate, which seems a bit crazy!
I have also learned that my treadmill anxiety still exists as I’ve been doing my treadmill Zone 5 work outs on Friday mornings by going into work early and every Thursday night as I gather my stuff and Friday morning when I head out the door I’m filled with anxiety about my treadmill workout. Luckily it’s short, I warm up outside and am actually only on the treadmill for 30 minutes. When it’s over, I feel like a million bucks! Is it working yet? No, it’s only been 4 times now that I’ve done it and I can’t say I’ve seen any results as I actually still feel pretty slow as I’m plodding uphill these days, but I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that after a few more weeks I’ll start to see some training effect! And the watch after initially giving me some anxiety about the fact that I barely knew how to use it, is showing me that it’s actually kind of fun to download all my stats and see how many miles I’ve logged, how much altitude I’ve done and show me that my heart rate appears to be just fine!
If you’ve thought about, I highly recommend both of these, the testing and the watch, if you want to try to set some training goals and have an easy way to record your progress. I can’t say I’m an expert just yet but having some fun trying them out, hopefully with some results to show for it in the end!
Kintec Race Team