Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My VO2 Max Test

This past Sunday I got to do my first VO2 max test! I was so excited to get some real numbers on my body such as heart rate levels for aerobic, anaerobic, lactate threshold, as well as my VO2 max, which is basically how much oxygen my body consumes. I was curious how it was going to feel to run with an oxygen mask on my face, but I knew the workout was only going to be 10-15 minutes, or however long it took the computer to collect my numbers.

My coach put my oxygen mask on my face and connected the tube to some high-tech gadget that was connected to a computer. The mask felt heavy and awkward, and all I was thinking was “Good thing I’m not claustrophobic!” I started with a light walk, then about every minute or two, my coach increased the speed. Then he started to combine inclines with the speed increases. The mask was getting heavier and heavier, and it felt like it was pinching my nose. Around 9 minutes I was sprinting and it felt harder and harder to breath in the mask which was frustrating. At minute 10, I was done. In hindsight I could have pushed myself to run faster, but being my first time, I was ready to take the mask off.
So what were my numbers and what do they mean?
Aerobic threshold heart rate (burning fat; easy pace): 140-150
Based on the calculation I was using prior to this (180 minus age), I was at 154. So my actual aerobic threshold was slightly lower than I had expected, and this means I will be running at a slower pace to maintain that heart rate. My coach reassured me that I will improve and I will get faster, especially with speed work.

Anaerobic threshold heart rate (burning sugar): 160-180

VO2 max: 40.0, which means that 40.0 millimeters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute is consumed. For a woman of my age, this falls into the “EXCELLENT” Fitness Level! I am pretty stoked about this!
I’m thrilled I have my actual numbers now. Here are my workouts and the corresponding heart rates:
     Long base runs: 140-150
     Speed work: 180 peak and 130 recovery
     Lactate tolerance training: 165 peak and 150 recovery
     Active recovery: 130
I'm so happy I did the test because I can really fine tune my training and run more efficiently. I know these numbers will improve with more training, and I look forward to seeing those improvements when I take another VO2 max test next year.


  1. That's so interesting. I've never done one of these tests and so I had no idea how they work and what the numbers mean. Great post!

  2. I've always been curious about these tests, so this was so interesting to read. It'll be cool to see your progress.