Gain Measurable Results by Getting Measures

TriLAB super guy and Culver City teacher, Mike Levy, just got his lactate testing and shares his thoughts on “getting tested”–not drug tested a la USADA, but lactate tested to see how (in)efficient his body is at burning fuel for the endurance sport we TRI. Read on for his thoughts:

How do we accurately assess our current fitness and prepare our next cycle of training?  Most of us think that we know what it feels like to be “in-shape” or “out of shape”, but the reality is that our fitness if very much a scientific construct.  There are a number of options for how to plan training.  Some people throw together a bunch of workouts and call it a training plan while others follow a pre-written plan from a magazine or a website.  Many people have a plan written for you from scratch by a great triathlon coach.  However, if all of these options are based on the idea that we are all starting from the same fitness point, then they are all truly ‘trial & error’ approaches to training.  To truly get the maximum benefit from training, the plan needs to be constructed based on your exact fitness on the day you start training.  Those of us with long days at work and family commitments needs to get the most out of every training session if we want to see improvements on race day.  How we feel day to day is largely subjective, but the quality and condition of our engine can be evaluated most objectively by blood lactate and VO2 max testing.  The only way to truly figure out what is going on inside our fitness engine is through controlled lab testing.

The picture here is during my recent Blood Lactate/VO2 max testing on the bike at the Trio Performance Lab with Coach Gareth Thomas.  This was my first experience with any type of lab fitness testing and it proved to be a great learning experience.  Coach Gareth and his team strap on a mask and heart rate monitor for the VO2 test and take blood samples every 3 minutes for the blood lactate test.  For a better picture, think back to 1985.  Remember the scene in American Flyers where the guy is breaking the test record in the sports lab?  If you haven’t seen American Flyers, then stop reading this blog to go watch Kevin Costner sporting a porn-stache and people cycling fast on bikes with downtube shifters.

According to the test results, I need to better train my body to burn fat during prolonged training & racing.  My body really likes to burn carbs which isn’t very efficient for a long 70.3 race.  It was also cool to do my VO2 max test which confirmed my hypothesis that I do not have the superior genetics of a Lance Armstrong but I do have enough genetic athleticism to improve quite a bit from where I am today.  My focus in training for the next 6 weeks will be to alter my body’s fuel source during longer workouts.  This means keeping my heart rate and power in the prescribed zones, even if it hurts my ego to go a little slower.  I still get to hit some steady tempo efforts but the focus is on burning fat, not carbs.  According to my test results, I also need to eat more protein and fat before long workouts.  The testing tells a lot about performance, training and nutrition.  My run test is in a couple of days, I’m looking forward to it…

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