Thursday, March 13, 2008


I study exercise so sometimes I do silly little tests to see how my physiology is doing. The other day I did a VO2 max test. This tells how efficient your body is at using oxygen and is generally an indicator of athletic performance.

An average VO2 max is probably in the 40s, while elite athletes are much higher (Lance Armstrong was in the 80s). I have been in this field for some time, so I have done these tests on many occasions. Over the years I have always been a little below 60. That's probably why I did OK in high school track and was able to keep up in bike races. But a 60 just isn't sufficient to be an elite athlete. That's OK with me, I've never aspired to be an athlete, but it's sort of a fun idea.

I was interested in being tested on Tuesday because they say that your VO2 max drops about a point every year after you turn 25. So I was expecting a number in the mid 50s. My VO2 max on Tuesday was 69.8. While my first question was whether the machine was working properly (and I am still not confident on that), I later started questioning my past.

I've never been good at training. I've ridden in some long bike rides and I've raced. I'm not slow, but I never really had the dedication to put in the long miles and long hours it takes to be competitive. I haven't really been training recently, except that I put 25 miles on my bike every day in 12.5 mile allotments. While my intensity is far from high, I am putting far more miles on my bike than I ever have. I don't ever go on long rides, I just do the same thing day in and day out. Had I been more dedicated when I was 20, could I have been really competitive? Could I have been a world class athlete? Of course that would be highly speculative to say, it takes a genetic component to have a VO2 max of 70 that evidently I have.

Do I wish I had pursued a life of bike racing? NO. While I wonder of the things that might have been had I been more dedicated to cycling, I have no regrets of the path I took (except for anything that I did in Junior High, that's just a bad time). I am glad that I dedicated more time to college than cycling. I'm glad that I have pursued education to the point that I have (I don't think I was glad about that last week). If there was a test that evaluated potential in different professional arenas, I wonder if the results would make me regret the decisions I have made?

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