Earlier in the week I had my max VO2 (also known as VO2max) and lactate numbers tested at Harriot Sports Performance in Seattle. These numbers will tell me how big of a cardiovascular "engine" I possess, and how efficient my system is at producing energy, and Jill (my triathlon coach) will use them as a basis for my workout planning for the next few months.
I brought my Cervelo to their offices on Western Avenue, where Todd and Russell set it up in a trainer stand with a CompuTrainer to measure power output. The test began with a 10 minute warmup, then wearing a mask I did the max VO2 test. This test started at 100 watts, then every minute the wattage ("effort") was increased by 20 watts until I maxed out halfway through the 320 watt set. The heartrate plus data from the oxygen mask sensor gave the max VO2 numbers. The wattage was lowered, then a series of blood tests are done at timed intervals as I increased my effort level and heart rate. These tests gave my lactic acid levels. All this resulted in a set of numbers that I'm still working to understand.
It turns out that I have a max VO2 of 60.6, which is apparently a very, very good number. I've read that this number is mostly genetically determined, and only marginally improved by exercise (although being a couch potato can hurt this number).
So what this says is that I've been a slacker all these years. My VO2 Max is only marginally below "elite cyclists and runners" level, according to various sources I've read. Apparently I deserve a "not working to ability" note on my report card. Jill says that my goal should be to develop leg strength to cycle and run equal to my VO2 max number. I foresee a lot of interval and tempo work in my future...
Also, it turns out that I have an efficient fat burning system, at least at lower heart rates. This lines up with my own perceived effort, which says I can "go all day" at heart rates lower than 136 bpm. My goal here is to move that drop-off point in zone 2 over into zone 4.