January 02, 2014

January 2nd - Today I Tested

I'm working on some smooth for the new year...

At every meal I've had this year, so far, I've caught myself at the edge of "speed-eating" and consciously slowed down! It helps me feel present with what I am doing and is WAY easier on my digestion! Give it a whirl. Oh and Cha Cha sent me this from yesterday...

Ok, so today I did three lactate threshold tests - two invasive, one non-invasive. I've done the non-invasive (aka Conconi protocol) for a long time, but just purchased my lactate analyzer last summer...it's pretty fun!

I've previously written about HR zones, their history,  and their varied implementations by coaches (as has my esteemed editor Stephen Cheung) - so this post covers no new territory...I just like the opportunity testing affords to have a conversation with athletes about their training and metrics that matter - specifically the cross correlation between RPE, HR, Threshold and the various iterations of each in their own training. I did think this part was pretty interesting given the prevalence of it's use:

"Robergs and Landwehr, researchers out of the University of New Mexico, sought to find an answer via their 2002 article in the Journal of Exercise Physiology. Their paper did an exhaustive review of the literature seeking to find the roots of max heart rate calculations during exercise, especially 220-age, as well as best practices in applying the correct calculations and metrics. The eventually referenced the origin of the formula to Fox et al in 1971 and as they put it “…surprisingly, the origin of the formula is a superficial estimate, based on observation, of a linear best fit to a series of raw and mean data.” 

The Fox article looked at research conducted on activity and heart disease. The original citation had a mere 35 data points and was not derived from original research. In fact Fox et al noted in their article that “…no single line will adequately represent the data on the apparent decline of maximal heart rate with age. The formula maximum heart rate=220–age in years defines a line not far from many of the data points.” So even the researchers in the original article that became the bedrock for decades worth of fitness musings, teachings and prescriptions didn’t feel that it was an absolute measure!

To try and parse out a ‘true’ Max Heart Rate (MHR) calculation, Robergs and Landwehr went back and attempted to replicate the research and cross reference with additional research that is often cited in relation to MHR estimation. They looked at over 30 different ways to calculate MHR, including the first known effort by Sid Robertson in 1938 (whose estimate was 212 – 0.77(age)). Their conclusion was that, indeed, even the original research cited by Fox had failed to support the 220-age calculation."

Some will argue the efficacy of the Conconi protocol, but I like it...there is typically a pretty noticeable shift that occurs in HR and, perhaps more importantly, breathing rate during the test. The test is pretty straight forward...starts at 50 watts and increases by 20 watts per minute until "volitional failure." The invasive test is similar - but the stages are 3:00 in length to better track steady state. When I do either of these I always recommend that the rider conduct a couple of field tests to further bracket their results, but it does give them a pretty good baseline to start with. The differences are not big when taken in the aggregate, ~1.5 beats per 10%, but the reality is that zones matter in helping to manage training. Here are a couple of examples:

Do you know your training zones? If not, maybe you should schedule an LT Test!

Oh yea, I also managed to get on my bike for an hour or so...felt pretty good to be in the brisk air!

Wonder what tomorrow will bring...

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