Friday, April 27, 2012

End of term lactate test

I did a lactate test last night so that we would have a reference point for when I go back to competitions and structured training after the summer. The tests also form part of a scientific study that they are doing in the Universidad de Europa (la UEM) which aims to link lactate levels with race performance. As you can imagine, they are not the first to do this study but my understanding is that the existing studies have all been done with elite runners. This seems to me a bit like doing a study comparing horses with the longest necks to giraffes with the shortest: my point is that elite runners are, almost by definition, "freaks" (sorry, I mean this in the nicest possible way). They are outliers. (By the way I recommend reading Malcolm Gladwell's book of the same name.)

Anyway, back to the test. The protocol had been changed slightly: this time it involved four laps of 350m before each measurement (yes, the running track is unfortunately a bit short because there wasn't enough room to build a full sized one) instead of 2 sets 1,000m at each speed with a lactate measurement after each one. This perhaps accounted for my slightly higher pulse rates (that, and the can of Diet Coke I had just before) - in any case, these heart rates were much more in line with what I have seen in training. What was a big surprise, however, was to see how low my lactate level was running at 16kph - it was the same level of 2.7mmol/L that I registered running at 15kph in November and significantly lower than the level at 16kph of 3.9-4.4mmol/L just before my spectacular Personal Best time in the Getafe Half Marathon at the end of January. The full results were

Post Madrid Rock 'n' Roll 10K

Speed (kph) Lactate (mmol/L) Heart rate (bpm)

15 2.2 159

16 2.7 173

17 7.0! 181

You can clearly see where my lactate suddenly rockets, although it would be interesting to know exactly where between 16 and 17kph this happens. The level of 2.7 is extremely low for the pace at which I ran the 10K on Sunday of 3:45 per kilometer, although the slightly hilly course should be factored in (I ran the Getafe Half Marathon at virtually the same pace corresponding to 3.9-4.4mmol/L according to the test). On the other hand, it's clear that my pace for a 10K race is definitely not 17kph (or 3:30 per kilometer), at least not at this moment in time anyway. Perhaps that first kilometer I ran in 3:32 on Sunday made my lactate level shoot up and affected my overall time; or, maybe, I was able to metabolize that lactate aerobically and bring the lactate level back down. Unfortunately, the only way to measure that sort of thing would be to have some sort of device plugged in intravenously while you ran: we are still far from having an extra field on our Garmin watch that tells us our blood lactate level... Still, we can but hope.

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