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Aerobic Intervals (Read 875 times)

    Just found this article on the web: http://runtrails.blogspot.com/2007/02/my-vo2-max-test-results.html The author is a pretty good trail racer/crazy ultramarathoner type (depending on your attitude towards all that stuff). He had his VO2 max tested along with some other interesting things. The strangest thing that was recommended to him was this idea of aerobic intervals--doing interval work that does not allow your heart rate to go over 120 beats per minute--in his words "excruciatingly slow." Has anyone else heard of this? What's the physiology behind it?
    Scout7


    CPT Curmudgeon

      A) The body always uses a combination of glycogen and fat as fuel. The only thing that changes is the ratio. B) I don't know that you can actually vary your VO2 Max by all that much, regardless of training. C) That is the most bizarre training I've ever come across. The only thing I can think of that comes close to this is when doing HR-based training, usually you try to maintain a certain zone. The lower, aerobic zones, can be difficult to stay in, so often times people have to walk to get their HR back down into that zone. I'm guessing that he has basically created a really good buffer zone for himself, and is able to handle running at Lactate Threshold pace for extended periods of time. This is actually a good thing. I think I actually have a similar issue. I'm actually comfortable running well above my aerobic zone in terms of HR, so running within the aerobic zone, for me, is a struggle. I remember reading somewhere that there are people who can run by "muscling" their way through it, but they aren't aerobically developed. Sounds like this guy.
        I'm going to guess that maybe he can sustain his HR in this aerobic zone without going over for a longer period of time than if he didn't have the "rest" intervals. I've done a version of a VO2 max work out that follows a similar principal - you go hard for 30 sec then partially recover for 30 sec the idea being that with HR lag, you actually are spending more time in the higher zone. I say "version" because for me this is a good interval work out that I can do on the elliptical =( 270 stride rate x 30 sec then 150 x 30 sec) and repeat.... I had to improvise as to do this as a track work out would be way too much stress on my legs. Thanks for the link - it was really interesting!

        Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away...(unkown)




        Go With The Flow
        Thyroid Support Group


        A Dance with Monkeys

          A. I need to get VO2 max tested for fun and cuz I'm a numbers hound. B. Correct, your body always burns fat and glycogen and always produces lactate, it is just the ratio of fat : glycogen and the rate of lactate produced : lactate broken down that varies. The blogger has this wrong. Like Scout said. C. VO2 max does not really change very quickly, but VO2 varies per activity. When Eric shows your VO2 max for your workouts, this is really just a VO2 for the activity. Your VO2 max is the highest this can go, and is only seen at maximal sustained effort, such as after back to back to back 800s or a treadmill test like the blogger described. D. Aerobic intervals? Huh? This kinda makes sense if your goal is to sustain a high ratio of aerobic respiration so that you can run for 100 miles. But most fast ultra runners I know (such as this guy named Jeff) run their ultras fast and high effort, and their intervals faster at higher effort.
          Scout7


          CPT Curmudgeon

            I was hoping you'd weigh in at some point, Trent. Good to see that I actually learned something from all those books I muddled through. I'm still totally confused by the whole training concept this guy was set up with. Even a day later, it makes no sense to me, and I cannot find anything even remotely like what is being described anywhere. Everything I've come across talks about high intensity. The whole point of running at a lower HR, in your aerobic zone, is because you can go for long periods easier.
              The whole point of running at a lower HR, in your aerobic zone, is because you can go for long periods easier.
              Right, this is what I thought/think as well. Interestingly, while not a world class runner, this guy has won a lot of trail races. If you scroll down on the blog, you'll see that he stopped doing the aerobic intervals while running and now does them on a bike. My sense is that (kind of like the nutrition article Trent posted a week or so ago), this is a case of science trumping common sense in a bad way--as if we could completely isolate one aspect of training and work on it alone. Much of the training debate (when it becomes nasty and dogmatic) seems to make this mistake of reducing the complex act of running to a single principle and then saying the best training is the implementation of that principle. Aristotle was onto this problem 2400 years ago. He said in the Metaphysics that the doctor does not heal the wound in general, but only this wound in this situation. Our knowledge is always in some sense too general. Good judgment comes in the application of that general knowledge to the particular case. This is a truth that the contemporary apparatus of modern science and medicine tends to forget--or actively tries to eliminate through the standardization of procedure.


              A Dance with Monkeys

                Right. And I understand that you train your body to run faster aerobically / at a lower HR by running fast often. This guy may be an awesome trail runner, but that does not mean it is due to this method. The same argument is made of Jeff Galloway, who was an awesome marathoner independent of the methods he later proposed for the rest of us. Yes, science, almost by definition, isolates variables and studies them out of context. This is an ongoing criticism that we see in medicine against so-called evidence based medicine, which teaches us to apply the latest scientific findings to our patients, who are more complex and nuanced than those studied in rigorous controlled trials. We always need to keep our mind on the intricacies with which biologic systems work. And as Jeff has pointed out, this is why we will always need philosophers!
                  This is an ongoing criticism that we see in medicine against so-called evidence based medicine
                  Just to be clear (I'm not disagreeing with Trent, just beating a dead horse) it's not that we should be against evidence, it's that the evidence attended to in the controlled (and highly effective for this reason) experiments of science is different than the evidence that the doctor gets in her personal practice. We need a more evidence-based practice--one that treats the evidence the patient presents as seriously as the evidence the laboratory presents. Thanks for the vote of confidence in philosophy, Trent. Though, having been around a lot of it lately, I'm not so sure that philosophers are always so helpful. We're like doctors, too,--we have to take the huge array of human experiments in knowing and sort through them with an eye to the present problems that culture presents. This can be done well and done poorly...
                    I agree 100% this is a case of science (or maybe bad science) trumping common sense in a bad way. Not only common sense but real world, concrete experience. For a guy training and racing at his level, I don't understand how very low intensity intervals will do anything for him, training wise. The intensity level prescribed is probably what you or I or he would normally do for a rest interval between reps, right? And it is probably an intensity level he could maintain for hours on end--well it obviously is since he's raced at a higher intensity. So what's the point of doing intervals at that level? Based on my quick read of his blog, it seems like the center where he went just didn't have much experience with people who had raced and trained at a high level for ultras. So they were guessing when they made their recommendations. I especially liked this little tidbit:
                    Brian was a bit perplexed by my low AT calculation (given my race pace at previous 50-milers, which would have had my bonked or dead by mile 30), and warned that the test could have been off.
                    So despite the fact they all but admitted they had no clue what was going on and that the test could easily be off, they still felt prepared to prescribe intervals at his recovery jog pace? Hmm. I'm thinking if I'm him, I'm taking the data with a grain of salt and going about my business as usual.

                    Runners run.


                    A Dance with Monkeys

                      We need a more evidence-based practice--one that treats the evidence the patient presents as seriously as the evidence the laboratory presents.
                      Right. Clearly we should not operate based on pure anecdote. And there is a lot of good well done and controlled science that we can apply to our patients. But science practiced in a setting too controlled gives us data that does not represent the population as a whole and may not give us information that helps us identify the relevant subpopulations to whom it does apply. This gives us problems like we have seen with Vioxx or Trovofloxacin, where medication work well in the lab but kill when given to a larger and more diverse population. That said, I do not think aerobic intervals will kill. Perhaps that is the problem, since intervals make you wish you were dead Wink