Another part of the “marathon” class I’m in is the chance to take part in a couple of graduate student’s research projects.  Their research involves looking at the effects of training, one on blood vessels and the second on body changes with added resistance training.  I love me some weights and finding out information about my body so I signed up!  I’ll be involved in 3 days of circuit training along with my running.

With the training, the students needed to get our starting info so I headed to the ‘human anatomy lab’ twice this week for testing.  The first day included a Dexa Scan to measure bone mineral density, an ultrasound of blood vessels and muscle fibers.  I didn’t get any info from these but will learn about my bone density changes at the end of the training.  The second lab visit Thursday included more ultrasounds, a lactate interval test, and then a VO2 Max test… like I said…lots of athletic jargon to follow 🙂

So what are these tests you may ask?

A lactate interval test “is a point during exhaustive, all-out exercise at which lactate builds up in the blood stream faster than the body can remove it. Anaerobic metabolism produces energy for short, high-intensity bursts of activity before the lactate build-up reaches a threshold where it can no longer be absorbed and, therefore, accumulates. This point is known as the lactate threshold and is usually reached between 50 to 80% of an athlete’s VO2 max.” source

A VO2 Max ” or maximal oxygen uptake refers to the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can utilize during intense or maximal exercise and is one factor that can determine an athlete’s capacity to perform sustained exercise and is linked to aerobic endurance. ” source

Sounds fancy, right?!

As with most testing, I had to get prepared…I couldn’t drink alcohol, caffeine, smoke, or weird things like that 12 hours before the testing (easily done) but I also couldn’t eat or drink 2 hours before the testing (not as easy when you wake up and want some food and water!).  Oh well…gotta do whatcha gotta do…

Both tests involved running on the treadmill with fancy headgear…. oh yeah…


I had to breath in and out of this tube hooked to my head (bulky!) while running.  The worst part was having my nose clipped to make sure I was only breathing out of my about uncomfortable and awkward!   It was a little hard to get used to this and my breathing definitely felt off at first.  The lactate interval test involved a warm-up and then running on the treadmill increasing speed for 3 minute intervals.  Between each three minutes, my finger was pricked, and blood was drawn to immediately test the level of lactate in my blood.  I ran till my lactate levels got high enough to have a point for my VO2 Max testing

I had some great ‘coaches (ie the researcher and student aides) so the time passed quickly during the run.  I did seven 3-minute runs with the speed increasing each time.  The last speed I ran was 8.9 for three minutes – ahh! – thankfully at this point my lactate was finally high enough!  Lactate Threshold testing DONE.

I got to rest for 15 minutes to give my body a break before the real fun began.  The headgear came back on and I had to give it all I had for the VO2 Max test.  The test begin with a 3 minute warm-up then the run started faster based on my lactate results and I had to hold the pace for 2 minutes.  After 2 minutes, they increased the incline to 4 I think to quickly push my limits and I had to hold this pace for another 2 minutes!  They kicked up my speed again and at this point I was pretty much done.  The researchers pushed me on to really reach my max..and I knew it had been met and had to stop running!  With the guys pushing you on, a little voice in the back of my head wondered if I could have kept going but I do feel like I gave it my all.

Thankfully they were able to give me the results right then and there…VO2 Max…officially…61.6!

Okay, as for most of you, this meant nothing to me at the time!  Everyone seemed pretty chill about it all, but one of the guys just apologized for being stunned but he thought I had a future in running. Okay…?  So, I came home and did my research onVO2 Max values for females…

Age Very Poor Poor Fair Good Excellent Superior
13-19 <25.0 25.0 – 30.9 31.0 – 34.9 35.0 – 38.9 39.0 – 41.9 >41.9
20-29 <23.6 23.6 – 28.9 29.0 – 32.9 33.0 – 36.9 37.0 – 41.0 >41.0


Woah…guess my 61.9 is OFF the charts?!  I’ll take it!

I’ll be honest, I have put a lot of effort into training the past few years and can tell I am in the best shape of my life.  I have to say it feels pretty good to know that this effort has not been wasted.  I can’t wait to see what the marathon training does for me and will go back in November to retest all my values for comparison.

So what do I do with all this new fancy knowledge?  Not much.. it is business per usual…I’ll keep running and add in three circuit training sessions.  As all weekends, I’ll meet my class in the morning… we have a 7 mile run on the schedule!


Have you ever had your VO2 Max tested or other fitness results?  Did it make you rethink your fitness or training?