Now that the group rides & races are getting geared up, I thought it would be a good time to get a true baseline check of where my fitness is truly at – not just guess based on how I do amongst others – but truly where I am at.
The dreaded VO2 Max Test: 1 of the best 10 minute workout that everyone HATES! And endurance athletes use to gauge their fitness.
VO2Max: is your ability to uptake AND utilize O2. The benchmark test of pulmonary (lung) capacity.
So, I got Tony at ATS to get me onto the schedule. The day came and after the instructions I hopped on my bike, which was on the Computrainer. The breathing mask got strapped on (not the most comfortable thing, but the ride will make you forget it), and after some calibration – I started pedaling.
Oh, it wasn’t too bad at first…. In fact, it was just a little spin. Tony reminded me to keep up my cadence, ‘doing good, let’s bump it up a notch‘. Now I’m starting to feel some resistance on the pedals. Ok, buddy, settle in – doing great! Then, I think to myself – Why am I here? Why am I doing this? I remind myself I’m doing for me and you the reader & right then, I re-focus – any negative thoughts are heard, and just as quickly as they are there, they are forgotten. I focus on the pedal stroke, relax the body, deep breathing. Negative thoughts are always around, it is a matter of how much you focus on them is when they linger. In training, I hear them and push them aside & Move on!
I opened my eyes and dared enough to take a peek at my Heart Rate, then my eyeballs bulged – 160’s already?! Now the reality of the effort and wattage creeping up and all I could hear was Darth Vader breathing through the mask. This is going to be B-A-D….. and getting worse every slow painful minute, that passes. Again more encouragement from Tony – “You CAN do this!!” This is why people come to his spin classes year around! I continue my efforts. I grip the handlebars a little tighter & bear down on the pedals even more – steady cadence – push/pull, push/pull.
I remember when they asked Jackie Joyner what she thought about when running hurdles. She said: “1,2,3,4,5,6, JUMP!”
I closed my eyes again and worked on ‘spinning’ my legs more smoothly, but it seems it is not going to happen, the wattage is too high, legs are mashing. Deep diaphragm breathing. I’ve been here many times, and suddenly I find myself here again – My lungs are heaving, Legs are screaming, lactate is in Friday afternoon rush hour – all routes are bottle-necking and the brain screams: NO MORE! I fight back the agony and hold on, hoping to push out some big wattage numbers.
Suddenly Tony starts the countdown – finally, but it’s too slow – I’m trying to mash the pedals, rock the body, yet all I can think of is “I wish someone would stop pouring hot liquid lava onto my thighs”. He ups the wattage again and suddenly I feel very like someone looking for help… about to fall into the lava flow and be melting away. As much as I’m pushing, the pedals slow, and my cadence drops like I just ran into a Hor’s Category climb.
And just like that, Tony says, DONE & presses a couple buttons on the computer, unhooks the mask and then drops the resistance on the computrainer – but I’m not done – I have to come to a complete stop. We are now checking my recovery rate from a very intense effort. So, here I am sweat going everywhere I’m taking in gulps of air, and I’m thinking ‘I just want to spin out my legs and flush the lava out of my blood stream. We wait until I get back under 120 and finally done.