"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Boring Numbers and Physiology Post

I was going to do a post on masters runners, as Minnesota's been a hotbed of speedy oldsters and I'm trying to find my place among them. The late Dr. Bill Andberg ran a 5:18 mile at age 60 and set a score of national age-class records. Most of his records were bested by fellow Minnesotan Dr. Alex Ratelle (2:30 marathon at age 56). Bill Fraser ran a 4:55 at age 55. All their records have fallen as more great runners continue to run for as many decades as they can.

I was looking for Andberg's then world's best VO2(max) for a man over 60 and found it in the February 1973 Runner's World magazine [back when it was relevant] - it was 61 - and there was a chart in the same article that caught my attention. It listed data for 11 national class track runners in their 40's; it's worth noting that national class then for masters was a mile in 5:10 and is now 4:30.

Their average height was 72.3 inches; mine's 72. Their weight was 158 pounds, mine 154. Their per cent body fat 11%, mine 10%. Their maximum heart rate 178, mine 184. Their resting heart rate 49, mine 36. Their blood pressure 117/76, mine 106/64. Their miles per week was 40, mine 65.

The telling number, though was that their average VO2(max) was 57.5. Mine hasn't been measured in a very long time, but my training suggests it's about 47-48. What's the difference?

VO2(max) can be affected by weight, heart stroke volume (correlated to resting heart rate), minute volume (correlated to maximum heart rate), lung vital capacity (mine's 6.6 liters, a bit above normal, possibly lowered from the pneumonia last fall), maximum breathing capacity (how much air one can breathe in a minute; I can't measure this, but it's probably not a factor), blood oxygen carrying capacity (my hematocrit is high normal), difference in oxygen tension between arterial and venous blood (again, not measured, but probably irrelevant) and the ability to maintain a maximal or near-maximal heart rate for the duration of the test.

That last factor is just a fancy way of saying "training." I ran the 2007 Nerstrand Big Woods 1/2 marathon at 93% maximum heart rate (89% of VO2(max)) for 93 minutes and the 2008 Trail Mix 50K at 84% maximum heart rate (73-74% VO2(max)) for 225 minutes. That's as good as world-class athletes could do - though, of course, their VO2(max) is much much higher.

What all of this boils down to is that I'm not running as fast as I should be able to and the only explanation is that I'm not being efficient, either biomechanically or biochemically. My mechanics are lousy, but they haven't changed that much since I ran well. That leaves me with a tautology:

I can't run hard for long because I don't run hard for long, I don't run hard for long because I can't run hard for long.


Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Okay, your VO2 sux, but what about your VO5? Because THAT stuff will make your hair come ALIVE, unless their ads are lying to me, and so at least you'll look good while you're sucking at running.

Wow. You actually found a time when Runner's World was relevant? Way to go! I would have settled for a time when it made grammatical sense and had an editor who had a passing familiarity with how plural possessives work.

Hey, Super Fast Steve
What's on your sleeve
Super Fast Steve? [2x]

He blew out a snot-rocket while descending down a hi-i-ill
He thought he'd missed himself, that's what he thought, unti-i-ill
he saw the tell-tale booger on his shirt sleeve stilllllllll ...

Hey, Super Fast Steve
What's on your sleeve
Super Fast Steve?


SteveQ said...

G: I wouldn't know what the RW stanards (or lack thereof) are; I haven't looked at a copy in 20 years.

As for VO5? I prefer the Tresseme' ads - porn for hair. And the Oil of Olay Regenerist ads? Yowza.

And now I have Bungalow Bill stuck in my head. Thanx.

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

These two links will save me the trouble of having to write a post (that nobody'd want to read, anyway):


MSH - I stand corrected: ALL the other Beatles hated this song, not just John (who didn't play on it). Yes - even Ringo hated it.

Scream'n Turtle said...

Sleep elevation bedroom tents, Hypoxicator,Heart Rate/ Gps watches-all new items since days back then. Who knows 20 years from now what they will have-i'm sure these amazing records currently will be slow times then.
Masters records, think I own the one with the longest period of a swollen Right achilles tendon-
At least we old MASTERS or Super Masters aren't confined to a rocking chair and content with that.

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

ZOMG, SteveQ!1! Only 5 comments on this post - 3 from me, one from you, one from another dude in whom this post caused a Scream'n fit - you've killed all your readers with a combo of boredom, physiology and numbers.

They said it couldn't be done, but I said to They, "Hey, wait a minute. Have you ever read a SteveQ technical post?" And they said, "No" and I was like, "Yeah, me neither. I usually just read the first line and skim the rest and then leave an annoyingly off-topic comment. But my point is, HE could do it!1!"

And now you have.

Kudos, sir. Your writing is officially more deadly than Jane Austen's.

You next post could be called, like, Lab and Labia: "Set in the early 19th century, this post tells the tale of Miss Hepzibah Primbody's attempt to gain the amorous attentions of her lab partner, Viscount Stephan Quickly-Ultra. All ends happily when Count Quickly-Ultra gives Miss Primbody a Secret Trollope Stamp after taking her virtue and then laments, ' 'Tis pity she's a Whoo-wer.'"


Helen said...

Thanks for the fudge - it was the perfect AS food :)