This week I'm headed to the lab to find out a bit more about my running and the science behind it. I want to see if I can benefit from what I learn to help improve my performances. You may or may not of heard of a VO2Max test, this is a scientific test to test your aerobic endurance. I have been running for a number of years now but recently I haven’t been performing as well as I could have been. After reading a number of running magazines and websites I decided to give this test a go. Once you have signed up for it you are sent a questionnaire to fill out prior to your visit. This helps the testers learn a bit about you and your goals. On test day I arrive at the lab and I am greeted by one of the testers. After short introductions all round, it’s time to get my running kit on! Once ready I’m told what is going to actually happen in the test and I’m shown the chart of data they are going to be collecting from me. These are all in scientific terms but they are explained in layman terms so don’t worry you don’t need a degree to do this! What is actually recorded is speed, incline, time, respiratory frequency(number of breathes per minute), tidal volume (the volume of oxygen you take in), respiratory quotient (works out whether your burning fat or carbohydrates - 0.7 or below is pure fat, 1.0 and above is pure carbohydrates) and your heart rate. I’m asked what my 10k time is and from this they devise what speeds I will be working at. The test is in two parts, the warm up which consists of 1x5mins@ 10k pace -4kph and then 4mins of 10k-4kph, 10k-3kph, 10k-2kph pace @ 1% incline and the aerobic part where I start at my 10k speed minus 2kph on 1% incline, increasing speed by 1kph each minute until reaching my 10k speed plus 1 kph. This is followed by a 1% gradient increase every subsequent minute until failure. So, now I know what is actually going to be asked of me, my height and weight are taken, my mask and heart rate monitor are fitted and it’s time to do the test. I start running and plenty of encouragement is given along the way, running a kph quicker than your 10k pace on a incline is harder than its sounds. I run until I can't go any further and I jump off the treadmill. It’s amazing how quickly you recover once you have stopped. Once I've cooled down and freshened up, the data is explained to me and a training plan is devised on the results. Your VO2 is the volume of oxygen absorbed by the body per minute, divided by your body weight, the only way you can truly alter your score is by changing your weight. My reading is at 65.91. Regardless of your score, it’s how efficient you are with what you've got. Someone can have a higher score and be slower than me or a lower score but be faster than me. So don’t get too tied up on what your scores are, instead use your new found knowledge of facts to help you to perform better. As well as my VO2, I found out that my maximum heart rate (196bpm) is and my threshold heart rate (189bpm), the maximum my heart can go before working anaerobically. Interestingly I found out that I predominately burn carbs all the time, I rarely burn fat which is not the norm! So I need to remember to take on board plenty of fuel in my marathons!! So, know I'm geared up with my new found knowledge and I know what heart rate zones I need to work at depending on what I aim to achieve in a session... the fells are calling, wish me luck!