Johnny has designated this week a recovery week. Part of the recovery process is getting assessments of fitness and metabolic status. I scheduled my run and bike assessments for Tuesday and Wednesday morning respectively.

My legs were still a little sore from the 25-mile ride I did on Sunday.  But, overall, I was excited and feeling good. I was looking forward to seeing how my no-so-consistent training routine is working out for me. I am still struggling with maintaining my discipline while I travel.  I’m getting better, but I’m not there yet.

The run assessment is performed on a treadmill. I begin at a natural walking pace and he records my baseline heart rate and resting lactose via a finger prick (picture a diabetic checking blood sugar with a glucose monitor).

From there he increases the speed every 3 minutes for 7 cycles or until I can’t run any longer. Just prior to the speed increase, he takes a blood sample to measure blood lactate levels. I’m wearing a heart rate monitor so he tracks that at each step too.

Some assessments will include measurements of fat oxidation and respiration rates. To do that I wear a mask that captures all of my expiratory volume and feeds it into an analyzer. This assessment didn’t include that piece. The first assessment did.

January 2019 – 1st Baseline run test.

In the near future, I’ll start posting charts of my progress. I’m still learning to use and integrate the various trackers on my watch, phone, and the bike computer.

I ran faster and longer

During my training runs, I’ve been focusing on maintaining my cadence which affects my posture. I’ve also been paying attention to both my breathing and pace.  So, while on the treadmill doing the test, it was easier to keep those particular elements in mind. As the pace got faster, I stayed focused. Of course, my cadence increased, but I tried to keep my form and control my breathing. The idea was to keep my breathing slower and I’d postpone the fatigue.

Wrong! That’s an amateur mistake.

When exertion increases, the muscles’ demand for oxygen increases. When I slow my breathing, I’m starving them of the oxygen they so badly need. The muscles send signals that they are starving for oxygen and my heart pumps faster to try to deliver more oxygen to the starved muscles causing me more fatigue. It’s like a death spiral.

Johnny corrected me at the tail end of my test because I was really, really struggling to keep up and finish the segment. He modeled the breathing rate. It’s very fast with a forceful exhalation to clear out as much carbon dioxide as possible.

He said I should sound like a freight train …..huh-huh-huh-huh quickly, very quickly. That oxygen is needed now! Deliver it or suffer.

Once I began the rapid forceful breaths I got a little burst of energy. So much so that he noticed my posture and my run and called it out so that I would be aware of how it felt when it happened.

I made it to the last segment…with lots of encouragement from coach J.

After a 20 minute cool-down on the treadmill, he reviewed the data with me.

Test results

Zone 1 pace has expanded to the bottom end of what used to be zone 3.

  • Jan Zone 3 pace 11:34 – 10:11
  • June  Zone 1 pace 14:14 – 11:31

Zone 1 speed has also increased into the old zone 3

  • Jan zone 3:  5.2-5.9 mph
  • June zone 1: 4.2-5.2 mph

In short, my body is learning to burn fat for longer periods of time. This is exactly what I want for endurance races.

Trust the plan…

The training is working.