V02max and Body Fat test results!

I had my VO2 max and body fat tested today at the University of Minnesota's Human Performance Lab.  I am go glad I did this.  For anyone wondering where they are, or just looking to be smarter with their zones/body weight, I completely recommend this.  I was lucky enough to have the PhD administering the test "sneak" me in with their marathon class so I'll be tested now and in May, which will be right before Fargo Marathon for me - it'll be fun to see where my numbers are then!

For me, this was a really big confidence booster.  The tester I had was actually really giddy with my results - you could tell he thought I had potential.

I just need to shed a few pounds :).

I have to laugh, because I know it's true.

When you grow up eating Hostess cinnamon rolls with each bite slathered with butter... well, you better know that you're not going to be the leanest/lightest out there :).

At a weight of 109.6 (keep in mind that I'm 5'0" inches, people), my stats are:
Body fat percent: 15.3-15.8%
VO2 max: 64

First we discussed Vo2 max.  Apparently just seeing this number, he'd put me on the national team for the U of MN.  Really?  Top 10 on the D1 U of MN team?  Keep in mind that I was a high school all-state runner for Marshall (small town), 4 time NCAA qualifier for Gustavus (D3), but never All-American, never really that outstanding... never would have considered myself a national runner for a competitive D1 program.  [Although, I must note that the U of MN did take note of me and I think school would have been free between a hefty academic scholarship and a small running scholarship - so maybe they saw something there I didn't].

Then we moved to the last page (after a lot of VCO, RR, BTPS, BR, etc metrics).  My weight.  Here he was brutally honest: "um, well, you're much higher than I would have pegged you for someone with your marathon times".

"And I don't know how to say this, this isn't something you can control" -- but he nicely told me that my breasts were larger than other top marathoners/U of MN top athletes he's tested.  And they're all fat, so perhaps they're playing into my total percentage.  I'm pretty sure I blushed.  I have never been called "busty" before... although I have noticed I'm bigger this year than in previous years... guess I'm living up to the name, "Busty Gustie"???

I'm being 100%, brutally honest - no holds bar here, people :).

But this guy was obviously excited.  Not about my breasts.  Hahahaha.  About my results despite my weight and my chest.  I guess it's hard to tell a woman athlete that they need to lose weight in order to be faster... but that's the case with me.  To have a Vo2 max of 64 at a heavier weight than ideal is notable.  I'm still looking up information on it, but I guess if my body fat was more in the "normal" range for a competitive female marathoner (10-13%), my Vo2 max would be:

@102.5 lbs (10% fat) = 68.4
@103.5 lbs (11.5% fat) = 67.8
@104.5 lbs (13% fat)= 67.1
@105.5 (14% fat) =66.5
@106.5 (weight before NYC, approx)= 65.8
@109.6 (weight day of test) = 64

Those numbers aren't going to get me to the Olympics, obviously.  BUT, they do tell me that I have a strong set of lungs - and that my current PR of 2:44 probably isn't my maximum potential (Even at a Vo2 max of 64 Daniels would say something around 2:35 would be possible - really?!?! Maybe I'm reading this wrong.).  So, that gives me a lot of hope/optimisim that there's a lot of ground left to be covered and potential to be unleashed :).

Oh - one more interesting to note: I am a predominate carb-burner.  Even when I'm walking or running easy, I am burning almost all carbs.  The tester said this might be an opportunity for me - to try to teach my body to burn fat on my long runs (since there are only so many carbs you can store/take in during a marathon).  So, this will be something I research and try to play with in the coming months.  At a RER of .7, you're burning fat.  1.0 is where you're burning 100% carbs.  At my walking rate, I averaged .96.  When I switched to my easy running pace, I dipped to about .9, but then quickly moved to 1.0 when incline and pace increased.  Interesting!

Second interesting fact:  I use less energy running at 7:30s than I do walking!

After CIM, I continued to have questions about my talent and wondered if I hadn't reached my potential with my 2:44s.  I actually told Nate that my next blog post would be all about how I needed to overcome the fact I didn't have the pedigree (I am not a multiple time All American, my parents are as non-athletic as they come), etc.  But this shows me that I probably have more potential than I give myself credit for (after all, Nate reminds me, you did qualify for the 2012 Trials on your first try, after just 9 months of training with Jerry).  Obviously, it will still take a TON of work, a lot of mileage, a lot of hard track and tempo work, and ALL the little things, but these "numbers" (they are only numbers!) would say I have the talent and potential to be a 2 time qualifier. Weird, but awesome at the same time.

Edited to add: 

Does this mean I'm going to go on a strict diet and try to get down to 10% body fat?  No.  I don't think 10% would be a smart # for me to target.  Plus, given my history trying to shed a few pounds (very difficult for me), and how much I fight the process (unlike training where I want to work as hard as possible, do as much as I can!),  I know it's not smart mentally, either.  This is the part of competing at a high level that I don't enjoy.  And as much as I'd like to reach my absolute potential as a runner/marathoner, an even bigger goal for me is to enjoy every step of the journey.


So now there's no reason not to chase that 2:43 with everything I have :)  Let's get after it!

Nichole Porath

Nichole is a blogger, elite level runner, and coach. She ran professionally for Brooks for two years after qualifying for the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials. During that time she founded TNC endurance, where she coaches and motivationally speaks to organizations large and small. This blog details her rise to national-level racing, and continues to follow her as she gets back into racing after starting a family. Read on, friends!

6 comments:

  1. Greg McMillan has some thoughts on this fat burning issue.
    http://www.mcmillanrunning.com/articlePages/article/2

    Basically, easy paced morning runs without any calories beforehand help. And long easy paced runs without calories where you hit the wall and then recover.

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  2. How'd they do the body fat measurement - underwater is the only way I trust. I would've said you were rather heavily muscled for a marathon runner, rather than overfat. It's being 58% fast-twitch muscle fiber that kept me from ever being a "good" marathoner.

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  3. Evan - thanks! I think I'll do this on my long run days. Great article.

    A college friend also shared a link on fat burning vs. carb burning - http://eatingacademy.com/why-i-decided-to-lose-weight. I'm not all the way through it, but a lot of things have stuck out at me (why do I still race heavy even though I'm training at high mileage? Shouldn't that just take care of itself? Why do other athletes seem to be able to lose it so quickly?)
    She hinted that understanding the carb burner in her vs. the fat burner also helped control her weight.

    And Steve, yes, underwater. I'll edit the post above to say that I know I'm not fat - nor will I go on some crazy crash diet to get down to 10% body fat. Should I probably work to be a little leaner on race day? Yeah. (Can't we all?) It's all about moderation and enjoying the training process day-in and day-out.

    Steve - How'd you get your fast twitch vs. slow twitch muscle fibers tested? Interesting you're so much of a fast twitch guy!!

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  4. Muscle biopsy of the gastrocnemius (it's painful, despite what anyone says) gives fast vs slow twitch. In my best mile, I set the WORLD record for fastest closing 100 meters (11.2? I'd have to look it up - and it was hand-timed, so not very accurate). Compare my 3K time of 8:55 with marathon of 2:40 and you can see I'm a speedster, not a long distance runner... yet, I keep doing long races!

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  5. Oh how creepy... the ads on your page just showed Monster High dolls, which I looked up because I know a little girl who wants one. I hate being tracked that way!

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