Physician Assisted Near Death Experience

Posted: April 29, 2011 in Bike Stories, It's All Important Stuff

Ok, the title is a bit dramatic.  It wasn’t that bad, but it was hard for a short period of time.

Coach Alex McDonald of Fast Forward Triathlon decided that we needed baseline Lactate Threshold (LT) and Max Heart Rate (HR) numbers in order to dial in my training zones. Lactate threshold is the point in exercise where your body produces more blood lactate than it can reabsorb.  Once this threshold is reached, an athlete can only continue at the same output level for minutes.  One goal of training is to raise the HR where LT occurs such that athletes can perform at higher watts output for a longer period of time.  We also measured my maximum power output, measured in Watts, to gather a baseline with the goal of increasing this number through specific training.

How many of you are using the (220 – Age = LT) method?  This is, at best, an approximation, but chances are very slim it will work well for you. Training LT requires a more precise measurement.  UNC Wellness Performance Center and The Meredith Human Performance Lab both do a great job with LT and VO2 Max testing.

I met Alex at UNC Wellness. Of course I failed to return the questionnaire in advance, thus it had to be quickly reviewed before we could start.  “Wait a minute – we have a problem – you are in a high risk category Todd!”  “My age?”   “Uhhh, yes.”  Thank goodness Dr. Alex was there to monitor the EKG of the elderly patient per hospital protocol.

After the chest was shaved, glue sprayed on, and pads applied, all of the EKG leads were hooked up.  I also had a blood pressure cuff remain on my arm through the testing.  We decided not also do the VO2 Max testing and therefore didn’t have the mask and headset to measure expired gases.

Alex dictated the testing protocol as my bike was set up on the CompuTrainer.  I controlled the watts of exertion through a thorough warm-up.  Then the technician took over and we began the test by slowly ramping up the watts as I maintained a constant cadence.  As the test proceeded, my finger was pricked and blood lactate measurements were taken every two minutes.  With each cycle the watts were increased up to a point of very hard effort when it was clear that I had crossed the LT  and Anaerobic Threshold (AT).  Alex also monitored the EKG with the goal of ensuring I didn’t croak.

Afterward, I had a brief cool down period and then we set up for the Max HR test.  This is very straight-forward – continue ramping it up until you can’t do it any longer.  Then stand up and go some more.  In my case, the plastic block placed under front wheel broke in half as I stood up and I damn near fell off the trainer.  Yes, I am a brute or a giant fattie.  The whole process took about an hour and Coach Alex let me use this in place of my trainer ride for the day.

The truth is that I was not so happy to see the results.  It is amazing how my body has changed in the last few years with age.  My Max HR is down several beats and so is my LT.  The good news, is that this is important to know and we can develop a specific plan such that I can hang on a bit longer an perhaps even get a bit faster along the way.

Related Blog: What Have I Done?

  1. Jason Turner says:

    Hey! So I was waiting to read what the numbers were. Post them too so we can compare them to Cancallera’s.

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