In the Zone (Part 2) – The Test

Nothing will work unless you do.
— Maya Angelou

Indeed!  I did some serious work on Saturday.  My LT field test was a bit scary, a little painful, and above all, empowering.  There isn’t a feeling much better than overcoming something that had you mentally up against a wall.  My LT test had me unreasonably worried.  I was concerned that I wouldn’t pace myself well, that the results wouldn’t be worthwhile, or that I would collapse and throw up.  If any of these things had happened, it wouldn’t have been a failure, just a learning experience.  Yet in my mind, I had worked it up to catastrophic proportions.  One day I will experience a sports related failure, and at that time I will overcome it, I’m sure.  Fortunately, yesterday I executed well.

My plan had been to head over the high school across the street and run this test on the track.  I jogged over to the school as my warm up, and was dismayed to find that all the gates were locked.  What?  I could have sworn I’d seen runners on the track early on weekend mornings last summer.  Due to the hills, I didn’t want to run my usual routes in the neighborhoods, so decided in the moment to do loops around the high school parking lot.  Each loop took me about 8 minutes to run, and there was only a slight elevation change.

The thirty minute time trial began.  I tried to pace myself slower than I thought I should go for the first five minutes.  Even so, I was moving faster than I had run in quite some time.  I continued with the test, trying to focus on keeping my shoulders relaxed and my breathing even.  After ten minutes I hit the lap button, so that I would be able to check my average heart rate for the final 20 minutes of the test.  Mentally I kept checking in.  How am I feeling?  How’s my turnover?  Am I pushing the same now I was did a few minutes ago?  I noticed my breathing switch from my usual count of in-3-out-2 to in-2-out-1.  The last five minutes I tried to give it everything I had, focusing hard to keep myself from slowing down.  I was pouring sweat and felt like I was on fire!  As the last few minutes ticked by, I noticed a guy run into the parking lot from the neighborhood.  He ducked into an unseen alcove, opened a gate that I hadn’t noticed before, and headed down to the track.  Ugh, really?  Luckily I only had to run hard for a couple more minutes, then the test was over.  I walked a little ways, getting my heart rate back down, then slowly trotted the rest of the way home.

Once I got inside, I got down to the business of recovery.  In this case, I sucked down some nuun and sipped a chocolate milk.  I did get a little bit off track at that point, and while I was still cooling down before hitting the shower, I found myself answering the siren song that is salt & vinegar potato chips.  So good!

Does Lay's sponsor athletes? Because I would be all over that!

Does Lay's sponsor athletes? Because I would be all over that!

I believe my LT test went very well.  I didn’t puke.  I saw a max heart rate of 193, which sounds kind of freaky high.  I felt completely fine though!  To each heart their own, I suppose.  After getting everything uploaded, I checked the average heart rate from the last 20 minutes of the test.  That number is my lactate threshold, and is used to determine my training zones.  So there we go.  Starting next week I’m ready to start Zone 2 training in earnest.  I’ll do another LT test in about 6-8 weeks.  I’m so excited to see what kind of progress I make through the summer and into the fall!