I’d like to start this week’s blog post off by saying how thankful I am to be able to run. One of my running mantra’s I say to myself during a run is, “run for those who can’t”. It reminds me of how fortunate I am to be able to do what I love, and it helps carry me through tough times. Health was a big focus of my week and I couldn’t stop thinking of ‘those who can’t’ from my running mantra. I hope to be healthy enough to run and exercise through the entirety of my life, and this week I was able to get a glance into some key health stats that will strongly impact my ability to continue running in the long term.
VO2 MAX TESTING: BECOMING BANE
This week I visited DexaFit in downtown San Francisco and completed a VO2 Max test. This tests the maximum amount of oxygen a person can utilize during intense exercise and is considered the gold standard for determining cardiorespiratory fitness. As a proud nerd, the idea of digging into stats about my health is extremely appealing. I’ve had a test to determine my ethnic background (Nigerian and Irish: mind blown) and fully nerded out for weeks after I received the results. I also plan on completing another VO2 max test after training for the Dopey Challenge at Disney World in January to compare my scores.
The VO2 Max test involved running on a treadmill while wearing a heart rate monitor and face mask that measures the volume and gas concentrations of inspired and expired air. I fully felt like Bane from Batman: The Dark Knight Rises and was totally here for it. Once fitted with the heart rate monitor and face mask, I was placed on a treadmill and the test started with a slow walk. The pace was increased to 5mph and for the next 10 minutes, the incline was increased until I was running at my maximum effort (as determined by the stats from the heart rate monitor and face mask readings). My technician let me know exactly when the incline would increase and what the changes were in my VO2 max score. As I pushed myself to complete the test, my VO2 max score continued to increase until I hit a plateau in which continuing to run would no longer increase my score.
There are several categories your score can fall into ranging from ‘very poor’ to ‘superior’ (see photo for more detailed info). Being the overachiever that I am, I said a little prayer that I would score a superior on my first try. Exhausted and a bit claustrophobic from being winded with a face mask on, my technician told me that I had scored a 39.3 placing me in the ‘excellent’ category! I was sooo excited and my superficial dream of getting a ‘superior’ didn’t matter AT ALL. I left DexaFit’s office with a 12 page PDF full of health stats, a VO2 max score I am so proud of, and…I stopped for a/some cupcake(s) #treatyoself!
With a great VO2 max score in hand and a few too many cupcakes in my belly, I felt more motivated than ever to get out and run! Later that week on Sunday, August 11th I participated in the Courage Over Cancer 10k race through Chrissy Field in San Francisco. It was my first time running this race and I was so impressed by the turnout and how family-friendly (human and furry!) the race was. Many participants had been impacted by cancer as a cancer survivor, a current cancer warrior, family member supporter, or researcher. It was so inspiring to see the dedication each runner had and I’m so glad I got to support this race and the charities attached to it.
Although this was not a high mileage week, my focus on the personal health aspects of running has helped me stay motivated in the run up to the beginning of Dopey training (starting September 10th!). We can all use a little reflection time on our ‘why’ we run and not only focus on the shiny medal at the end of a race.
Thanks for reading, Sparkle fam!