DIARY: Peak Centre Test 5 - Preliminary Result

Got my fifth test with the Peak Centre today, probably the one I've dreaded most, after many really good tests, improvement on improvement, I knew that my injury setback would have decreased some of my metrics.

Only question by how much?

Emma Cutts who runs the show would have her hands full today, as Sharlene joined me, us carpooling straight from work.

It was an insidious move, as it meant Sharlene having to watch me being tortured for 17 minutes, before, fully aware of the torment ahead, she'd have to take the test herself!

Every session starts with the obligatory "weight check". I started out a skinny-fat 74, my max ever weight is 76.6. At today's check I had dropped to only 65kg, a full 3 lower than in October.

We didn't check body-fat today (that'll wait till March), so had I lost just "the bad stuff" or the "good stuff too". Only the test itself could show it now.

To Base or not to Base?
We're not talking second or third base or anything else naughty here, we're talking hard cold "Base Fitness", "the core", "our foundation", or whatever else name you want to coin to it.

This was my main worry, Howth had showed, even with the benefit of the cryo, that my top speed had not been significantly damaged by the long lay-off. I knew my hard runs scattered over two months of no easy running could not be conducive to true fitness, however, so what would the numbers show?

The two months of long slow trudges I went through before the marathon had tremendous effect, catapulting me into being able to run for 3:18 at a speed of more than 12.5kph, and being quite comfortable about it too.

Two months earlier, it was different, 12kph alone would have easily meant the end of me long before I ever hit Merrion Square. This is how effective slow runs are, and this means "really" slow runs. I haven't been faithful to them for a while, but like all first loves, I'll revisit them now, and hopefully stick to them until such time as there's nothing left than polishing the chrome (MAC work basically).

So what was the damage from November to February? Not too much as it proved, slight increases on my lactate production at 12-13kph (my old base speed), but bizarrelly both my speed at 14kph and 15kph had dropped down to just between 2mmol/l-3/mmol/l of lactacte.

Anything beneath 2 is basically your base, a speed that can be maintained almost indefinitely. This means, I'm within weeks, a month on the outside, of proper training from being able to comfortably crunch out a 40 minute 10k. To reach my aim of 33 minutes, I need to move my base up to 18kph.

With the current figures, this should happen by next Spring.

The Top
Every three months I've added 1kph of speed to my max speed, moving from 15kph in April to 17kph in October.

We did not attempt to push further today, given my recent injury and lack of training, in fact, a slight dip was expected.

Luckily, I've just about held on to the 17kph, we still see a massive increase in lactacte (from about 3 to 7.5) from the 16kph to 17kph speed, but this is not catastrophic. Early tests showed that I have a higher than average degree of lactate tolerance, not on par with footballers, rugby, GAA, and other athletes conditioned to extreme force, but at good 100% higher than the average endurance athlete.

Barring injury and illness I will be targetting a max speed of 20kph by next November, which will drag my base with it up to 17kph. Once you move beyond 20kph as max speed, you're entering truly elite territory, and the base speed will follow. If I can pull this off during the course of the next 12 months, there will be little stopping me from living out my ambitions.

Another positive is that retention of power combined with weight loss means that my body-fat percentage has most likely dropped below 10% now, bringing me closer to the target for the year, the magical 6% inherent in most hill-running champions of old.

The Obstacles
Tests are now conclusive: If my body will take the punishment of continuing increase in training there is nothing physiologically to impede progress to at least the sub-elite level.

The highest VO2 max measured for me is the current 73, but there's good reason to believe it's far higher than that, possibly 80. The next test in April, should give more indication on this field.

I'm incredible buoyed by this test, it's restored full self-belief, and our consultancy after the test was better than ever, really ramming home to me that it's all about "how" you run, not "how much". If the "how" is not ok, every word that follows it "fast", "long", "much" etc. doesn't matter.

So what stands in my way? Firstly, of course, will muscles and ligaments hold? Maybe, maybe not.

Other than that, there's only two things: Time and Commitment. If I have the time, and I use it properly, the results will come. Again, barring injury and illness, touch wood, and goodnight! See you at Trooperstown!