Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I Got Maxed!

Last Thursday was my first VO2 max test (ever). For those unfamiliar with the testing, it helps determine when you shift from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism, looks at your oxygen consumption during vigorous exercise, and helps you determine your heart rate "zones". I was really interested in finding out where I fit in, because my heart rate ALWAYS gets high during a run.

The very crude rule of thumb dictates that your max predicted heart rate is 220-your age (that makes mine 187). The reality is that I regularly reach a heart rate of 195 on a vigorous run. My resting heart rate is likely not below 65. I'm a cardiac Nurse Practitioner, so I've never been concerned about this, but interested to see how it plays into my training. At the start of the season, my coach Mike had me complete a run and bike time trial. He estimated heart rate zones based on this time trial, but we needed a VO2 max to give us very accurate numbers.

I knew the goal of VO2 max was to go as long and hard as I could. Of course my test was at 7pm and I had a butt-kicking day at work. I was on my feet nonstop and worried about how this would effect my performance. To top it off, my foot started cramping on the treadmill. Those things aside, I was happy with my first ever effort. The best part was that I found out that I do have a pretty good feel for where my body is.

My Zones:
Zone 1 159-169
Zone 2 170-183
Zone 3 184-191
Zone 4 192-198
Zone 5a 199-200
Zone 5b 201-204
Zone 5c 205+
What I learned: My heart rate zones were about 10 points higher than the estimates. This was a HUGE relief because I tended to settle in about 5 points above the estimated Zone 2 range. Up until this month, I was doing base building (low intensity). Getting the information on my zones is especially helpful as I increase my intensity (getting to know Zone 4 quite well!!!!).


  1. Very cool. I've been tossing around the idea of getting my own V02Max tested, but it seems really pricey so I've been putting it off.

    It is crazy how different your HR numbers can be once you get away from the old zones.

    I've always used 220 though, not 200. Your numbers may be(slightly) more accurate if you use that.

  2. That was a typo...187 is 220-my age. The VO2 max was well worth it for me, but I needed the validation with my HR.