So I got Lab Tested

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  • #28625

    I got tested this morning at a lab offered by my local university.

    A little context on me:

    I’ve been training with HR for a long time. Early on it was just for marking progress using “ramp tests” and so forth. Then using Jack Daniels “running formula” I identified approximate LT HR for his “T” pace (mine was around 165bpm) so I could use that instead of pace where pace wasn’t reliable (i.e. trails). Then I got into Dr Maffetone’s methods and used “MAF” heartrate for almost all training (really helpful when coming back from injuries). I’m 47 and MAF is “180 minus age” so MAF rate for me was always 136, then the next year 135, etc. I was always a little skeptical of MAF though because it’s so “one size fits all” and I know from experience that different people can have very very wide-ranging differences in HR that was not really reflective of fitness at all.

    I discovered UA and read the TFtNUA book and liked the AeT/AnT methodology much better than MAF as it seemed more tailored to the individual. So a few weeks ago I did a AeT treadmill “nose breathing” test as described on this site. That came in with an AeT HR of about 146-147, quite a bit higher than MAF rate of 133. But still I was encouraged that AeT at 147 was pretty close to what I thought was AnT of about 165. Just a bit more than 10% difference.

    Then I tested my LT HR using a built-in test on my Garmin watch and a HR chest strap. The methodology was a series of 3min intervals at various HR zones, topping out in Zone 5. I was surprised that LTHR came in at 173. Big difference now between AeT and AnT (146 to 173 is 27bpm or about 18%).

    Not trusting any of these (my ability to discern “nose breathing” on the treadmill, nor Garmin’s ability to tell me my LTHR), I figured I might as well get tested for real.

    Got scheduled with my local university for an early morning slot so I could do the test fasted. Emphasized I was mostly concerned with AeT and AnT and didn’t care as much about Vo2Max and HRmax even though they’d measure those as well. They allowed me to do a warmup prior to the test in addition to my stair-well walking I had done before my appointment time.

    I got fitted with the ECG tabs, blood-presure cuff, and the ventilator gas halo-mask (really felt like a lab rat at this point), and we started the test with some slow (1.7mph) walking at 7% incline. At 3min we bumped this to 10% incline, then we proceeded in 3min increments to bump speed/incline until I “pulled the chute” at 90 seconds at 5mph and 18% grade.

    This is the point I am most disappointed in the test. I think I may have cut it early and I hate that I wasn’t able to endure longer than I did, despite 4 techs all around me cheering me on. I blame the ventilator mask and all the stuff all over me as I have definitely worked harder in training/races.

    Anyway, after a cool down, I got my results.

    AeT at about 149-150bpm based on gas exchange rate of 50/50. AnT at 164 and “max” at 166 (where I concluded the test). Vo2Max as 52 FWIW.

    So sorta close to my nose-breathing test on AeT (146 vs 149) but the LTHR/AnT was way off at 164 vs 173 (but close to what I used to know as my LTHR). I don’t put much stock in the “max” they set as I have seen far higher than that in training runs and races (when I did a maxHR test a long time ago it came in at 195).

    I guess the biggest takeaway is that 6+ months of predominately low HR zone training (be it by MAF or by UA methods) has fixed any ADS related issues and I can start doing other stuff in my training now.

    I hope this was interesting/informative to some of you considering a metabolic test like this.
    Thoughts and comments welcome.

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    Anonymous on #28635

    Excellent. Great description, and it sounds like a good result.

    If you get tests in the future, I would ask them to only increase one intensity factor at a time. Increasing both speed and incline at progressive stages would have a non-linear increase in load.

    Does that make sense? I think you may have been able to go longer if they had held the treadmill at 10% and only increased the speed.

    davelockyer101 on #29086

    Thanks for sharing. Encouraging that the test validated the nose breathing approach. Which nose breaghing method did you use to identify AeT?

    briguy on #29087

    Glad to share. I used the technique linked to on this site (I pasted it below). I know the guys now say that they don’t prefer the nosebreathing test in lieu of a cardiac drift test but I saw the nose breathing test before I read that new stance. 🙂

    Indoor DIY Guide to Determining Your Aerobic Threshold: Treadmill Test

    Incidentally, and I’ve been meaning to come back and comment on this but forgot. I said I used to train by “MAF” heartrate which is 180 minus age which puts me in the mid to low 130s (133 right now, 132 in a few weeks).

    I wanted to get tested so I could see if I had ADS or not and if not could finally start doing some upper-intensity work instead of all the MAF running. Well with an AeT of 149 and a AnT of 164 then I determined I don’t have ADS and should do most of my non-intensive work in Zone 1….which is 20% under AeT, which is also about 134. So pretty close to MAF! 🙂

    vansickle on #29745

    Sounds like they used a Bruce Protocol for your test – typical for cardiology/CPET testing, basically useless for performance testing. You need more of a ramp protocol (e.g., increasing 3% every 3-5 minutes), with more samples to really get meaningful data. A large workload increase, like that in the Bruce, misses all the important physiological transitions, and without a longer step length/smaller work increment, it is difficult to match the changes temporally with heart rate.

    Anonymous on #29940

    @vansickle! I’m glad that that method has a name… Does a ramp protocol have a name as well?

    I contacted a lab recently, asking if they could do a test with a long warm-up, at a constant incline, and with intensity in 3′ stages, but only increasing in speed. They didn’t respond…

    Maybe if I speak the right language, I’ll get a different response?

    vansickle on #29948

    For testing mountaineering athletes at UC Davis Sports Medicine, we use a walking protocol that increases grade every 4 minutes. I prefer a minimum of ~24 minutes of data collection (6 stages). Runners are tested with increasing speed. Note: this protocol is not intended to measure VO2max. We will use this for metabolic (VO2/VCO2) and/or blood lactate tests.
    Also – edit to my last post. This is technically a step protocol, not a ramp protocol. Just much smaller steps than the Bruce.

    briguy on #30001

    Thanks for the info. At the cost I paid, it is disoncerting to hear the results are possibly not useful for what I wanted.

    Anonymous on #30044

    @briguy: Doh.

    : Does increasing the grade (rather than the speed) not have a more dramatic increase in load?

    vansickle on #30049

    Depends on the step size. Increasing by 2-3% per stage is a fairly mild bump in workrate.

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