Bath Half Marathon Blog

05 March 2014

The Bath Half Marathon took place last weekend and during the week our blogger underwent her Vo2 Max test at the Human Performance Centre in preparation.

Sadly, when the day came, she couldn’t run. However, she promises to do it in May instead…

OK, I’m going to come clean. It hurts to say, so I’ve taken a while to go public, but I didn’t do the Bath Half because an old, pre-existing knee injury (sustained during a parachute jump in my youth) flared up just at the wrong time.

I’d just had my Vo2 Max test with physiologist Jonathan and I was raring to go with my last two weeks of preparation.

All is not lost though as I intend to try and run the distance on 3 May, potentially with a friend who was too ill to run on the day if they have recovered in time. If not, I’ll do it on my own with a few hardy family members as verifiers.

I’m sure we can visualise the crowds and the noise and the fun of it all whilst plodding in solitary splendour! After that, I’ll carry all the good things I’ve learnt into some 10k races over the summer as well as the odd bike challenge.

So, running on 3 May instead gives me some time to put into play what Jonathan told me when I can get back to training.

Currently, I’m stuck on a fixed bike in my garage as James the Team Bath physio has given me a good programme of exercises and “return to training” activities that I’m currently following religiously.

So what is a Vo2 Max text?

Well, basically speaking, it tells you how your body copes at various speeds by monitoring oxygen uptake, heart rates, and lactate levels as you run in three-minute bursts on a treadmill. After each three-minute stint the speed is increased.

The results can help you set your training programme more accurately and improve faster from that training.

So what did I learn from that effort whilst I was linked up via a gas mask to various computer paraphernalia and from the regular pin-prick blood tests?

If I were a glass half-empty kind of person, I’d first look at the kindly nudge in the report to take off a bit of weight to assist my running.

Yes, Jonathan, I agree that would help for endurance events.

Instead, I was fascinated by the detail that was provided. I now know that if I currently run at 10k an hour, I can sustain that for quite a while. If I run at 11k or more, the lactate builds up and with it the fatigue and, eventually, sickness (in my case).

From the data, Jonathan was able to tell me that, for my chosen discipline (i.e. a half marathon) that I should delay the onset of the lactate threshold by basing most of my training in the E1 and E2 (i) zones.

For me this means around 9km per hour (that seems quite slow to me but, apparently, it means that I can delay the on-set of fatigue and get more out of each training session and shift that lactate threshold higher).

Jonathan also recommended that I run using a heart monitor so that I kept within certain zones and that eventually, as the training improved, my speed that those heart rate zones would increase.

I also need apparently, to do some, very limited, training in the E3 zone. ­ that¹s over 10k per hour in my case.

Crucially, Jonathan is convinced that I should start off modestly and then build the pace during the half-marathon. That’s really hard for me as I tend to go off quick and then slowly die in the second half of most of the races and training sessions that I’ve done. It will need a new mind-set.

I’m determined to try all of this and the other great advice I’ve been given, before May 3rd! Meanwhile, I can take comfort from the fact that all my stats are “excellent” ­ well at least for a female of my age versus the general population.

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