If I’ve been a bit quiet on here lately it’s due to the fact that I had my blood lactate test done last week at Peak Centre Vancouver.
I actually thought that I did pretty well. I ran until I couldn’t and was proud of not falling off the treadmill. And then I got my results.
First, a little bit of an explanation. Now, I fully understood going into the test that I would be told to run my long runs slower. Heart-rate based training is a pretty exact science if you get tested. You run on a treadmill and, in my case, blood is taken every 3 minutes. Eventually you “voluntarily” quit and where you top out is where your maximum heart rate is determined. Your blood is then tested to determine how fast you accumulate lactate. Obviously the less lactate the better since that’s what makes you feel like you’re dying when you run.
So here’s why I haven’t posted. I’ve been processing. And I have to admit that they way I’ve dealt with the results is a lot like grieving. Hence, the reference to The Five Stages Of Grief:
Denial: What?!?!?! They want me to run my zone 1 how slow? That’s a walking pace! (Note: pace is personal. My standard for slow is slow to me. It may be way slower than yours or you might think it’s super fast. For that reason I will not be discussing my actual paces.)
Anger: WTF?!?!?!?!?!? Here’s part of a fb email to my friend (who understands as she’s been tested too): I’m going to be walking my effing long runs. I did my run yesterday entirely in the middle of zone 2. And that felt ridiculously slow.
Bargaining: Maybe I can just sneak in a few kilometres in zone 2. That won’t make much of a difference, right?
Depression: I can’t do it. I paid good money to get tested and they’re telling me to freaking walk? Why’d I even bother? Another excerpt: Anyways, sitting here bawling my eyes out. Maybe I should just drop down to the half.
Acceptance: I know how much this will make me a better runner. I will follow it religiously so that I don’t get stuck where I’ve been for the last couple of years. I’ve seen how it’s benefited those friends who’ve stuck with it. It will be hard, but it will make me stronger.
Luckily I experienced all five stages in one day. I’d kind of sucked it up after writing the top part of this post. I just wanted to make sure I got it down while I was feeling that way… I’m still pretty emotionally traumatized by the whole thing to be honest. It felt/feels like such a blow to my running “career”. I know it won’t last forever, but, with an “it’ll probably be 6 weeks until you see improvement” philosophy, it will seem that way!
Here’s a quick and probably insufficient explanation of heart-rate based training*:
- When you run you produce lactate. Lactate produces fatigue. It’s that fun “I feel like my lungs will explode and legs will fall off” burning feeling. You want to train your body to run longer before feeling that way!
- Generally in distance running you want to stay within your aerobic threshold (zone 1) which feels like you can run all day.
- Heart-rate based training helps you increase your aerobic threshold by teaching your muscle fibres to eliminate lactate more efficiently.
- We have slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibres, as well as intermediary fibres. The more zone 1 training you do the more you train your intermediary fibres to act like slow twitch fibres. Peak’s example is of a sink: the fast twitch fibres produce lactate to fill up your sink and the slow twitch fibres are the drain. The more you train your slow twitch fibres the better they are at removing the lactate – it’s like widening the drain so the lactate leaves your body more quickly.
- Intermittent zone 3 and 5 work, which are higher intensity work, will help elevate your lactate threshold.
*This information is how I understand what I have been told by Peak. I am not a doctor, lab tech, or scientist. If anything is incorrect the error is mine.