Every once in a while, the universe aligns perfectly. Such was the case last week. We had just come off five (I hate to say this, but I have to!) EPIC days of skiing at Copper Mountain and we were headed down to the big city to watch some college basketball.
One of the funny things about blogging is that I end up with quite a few comments, emails and spam from people and places of which I have never heard. The spam is easy to detect, I have a spam filter. So, if an email makes it through, I figure it must be real. Still, it never hurts to be skeptical.
“So who’s this Chris Carmichael guy?” I asked my husband. “His website looks legit, have you heard of him?” As my husband’s jaw dropped to the floor, I realized that I must have said something r-e-a-l-l-y stupid. “He’s one of Lance’s coaches,” was the reply. “You have to go.”
And so I did, and this was the serendipitous part. You see, I live a long way from Colorado Springs and I would never have driven over from home for a morning event. But being in Denver with no plans for Friday, I went down to the Springs. I am very glad I did.
Carmichael Training Systems
The Carmichael Training Systems facility offers world-class training for endurance athletes, with an emphasis on cycling, running and triathlon. The CTS is open to people like you and me….although probably more like my husband who competes and cares a lot about performance. Athletes ranging from the professional level to the weekend warrior come to the facility for running and cycling diagnostics and to work with professional trainers. Although some athletes are local to Colorado Springs, many are coached long-distance via email and Skype.
For this event, there were four fitness/sports bloggers in attendance. Two of them, Janalyne and Wanda, are personal trainers (bodybyjanalyne.com & getfitcamp.com). There was Bill from Denver (coloradobikeaholics.com) and me, the Brave Ski Mom. There was also a team from Eucerin to discuss skin health and the role of healthy skin in overall wellness.
After our tour of the facility, CTS offered one of us the opportunity to participate in a running lactate threshold evaluation, while offering everyone else the chance to reschedule and come back at a later time for the same test. Bill and I were game. In a very gracious gesture he offered to let me go first, and he scheduled for another day. Thanks Bill!
Finding My Lactate Threshold
And that is how I found myself running three miles on a treadmill, at an ever-increasing pace, while at the same time giving up a blood sample every three minutes. Yeah! Glad I signed up for that.
Actually, I was glad I signed up. Not being very savvy about the science of performance, I had never heard of a lactate threshold. Here’s the deal: The lactate threshold is the point at which lactate, or lactic acid, begins to accumulate in the bloodstream faster than it can be metabolized. It is also the point at which the body switches from an aerobic state to an anaerobic state.
Interval training can temporarily take the body past the lactate threshold through intense exercise. Slowing down allows the body to recover by reducing the lactic acid in the blood. To increase speed and efficiency, runners often train at intervals just below their lactate threshold where they are still using glycogen (glucose) in combination with oxygen. Cross the threshold and the only fuel is glycogen and you’ve only got about 2 minutes of energy.
The upshot: If you know your lactate threshold, you can train more effectively and efficiently.
Athlete or Couch Potato?
But back to the evaluation. In a situation like this, there is always some performance anxiety. No one wants to demonstrate the fitness of a couch potato in front of world-class athletes and trainers. But then, there is also reality — I am not a world-class athlete nor a very dedicated runner.
When I started the 10 minute warm-up, my heart rate spiked immediately, not from the exertion but from adrenaline. When I calmed down a bit and got used to hopping on and off a moving treadmill, things got better and I made it through 21 minutes of active testing before maxing out at a pace of 8:42 per mile (like I said, I am not much of a runner).
Armed With Data
Later, when one of the trainers, Rebecca, explained my results, she indicated that the goal for me is to lower the level of lactate in my blood at each level of exertion, thus being able to run faster and exert myself more before crossing the threshold. She also provided me with an interval training chart, which I can use to pace myself as I start running more this Spring. Funny how it only takes a little bit of data and the sacrifice of 6-10 drops of blood to get one motivated!
Once I’d cooled down and changed clothes, I rejoined the rest of the group for presentations by the Carmichael Training Systems staff on hydration, cooling and training for the “time-crunched” athlete. Each of these topics is huge and deserves a post of its own. Look for posts on each of these topics, with information from the CTS, in the coming weeks.
To learn more about the Eucerin Skin First Movement, Eucerin sponsored skin care events, Dean Karnazes’ Run Across America and to enter to win a giveaway of Eucerin Daily Skin Balance Lotion and Hand Creme and a $20 CVS gift card, come back tomorrow to the Brave Ski Mom.
When You Go….
Carmichael Training Systems says that “If your sport involves breathing hard and breaking a sweat, CTS has you covered.” Offering world class training to athletes of all stripes, the main CTS facility is in Colorado Springs, with satellite facilities in Asheville, NC and Tucson, AZ.
In addition, to providing training to member athletes, Carmichael Training Systems also offers a wide variety of training camps focused on certain skills (i.e. climbing for cyclists) or specific events (i.e. Ironman or the Leadville 100). For a full list of camps, click here.
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