DIARY: Early Test Results

I will only know my full tests results on Tuesday but early signs are optimistic. My blood sample looked black as tar which I think is a positive in general but obviously the detailed analysis will look for true trouble-makers.

The stress ECG had a similar format to the physiology tests I've done, with 3 minute intervals of increasinly heavy workout intensity. It started with several walking efforts up hill and it took a little while to get my heart rate up over 100bpm. Once there, I noticed it reached just into the 120ies once I was walking very briskly up a slope (which I think at this time was 12-15%).

The final two sections of actual running were hard where I had to run up first an 18% slope and then a 20% slope at 8.1kph and then 8.9kph (06:47-07:27 pace but if you compare Snowdon pace dropped as low as 11:00 on less steep slopes than this). I hoped we could press my heart all the way to it's max at 198bpm to really unravel it's secrets but the doctors both considered that too risky and also the test in the end didn't allow it. Once the last two sections started my heart rate quickly rose up through the 160ies before eventually settling at 179bpm for the final 3 minutes.

After that, the intensity I was subjected to could just not push the heart any further (showing how tough you go in a hill race, given I went 3 bpm higher for a full 32 minutes on Wednesday) and they surgeons were surprised as the heart rate just stabilised.

Hill runners obviously wouldn't be their standard clients as they said "only two other people ever completed the full test!". They couldn't offer much conclusive at this early stage except to say that my fitness levels where extremely high (but this would probably go for almost any IMRA member) noting both my low heart rate and the speed by which my pulse dropped back to normal after the trial.

Only initial sign of worry was a very rapid increase in blood pressure as intensity increased. I don't have the full figures yet but I started on the low side of normal with 115 over 70 (the doctor said: "If you bring it lower you'll start to get light-headed", when I queried whether I could do anything to lower my blood pressure) increasing to around 190 over 70 (or 80?) at the very end. My resting pulse was measured at 41 which was not a complete rest, so the 37 once measured for me is probably still a good gauge. Measured at normal activity levels (e.g. sitting, light movement) it seemed to be around 60bpm.

Both doctor's explained a significant increase in blood pressure is normal during such intense uphill workout and the real solution to making it more bearable is to ensure the heart rate doesn't have to go up so far and work so hard. Nevertheless once the cardiologist looks at this in detail it may be one avenue of exploration. They said it almost certainly explained the pressurised feeling around my chest cavity during maximal intensity workouts and that care should be taken as such high blood pressure intensities can damage the heart in the long-term (I had the slight feeling they didn't quite understand the need to bring the heart into this realm).

I suppose we are back with Lydiard and his limitations on anaerobic training...

For all the other results, I'll have to wait and see. Tomorrow, I'll be conducting a field test at the World Championship Trial trying to exercise my uphill demons and hoping my hamstring will loosen up in the meantime!