I’ve always been rather keen to try new things and experiment when it comes to fitness. In some ways I think I have always been a guinea pig of my own mad professorship. Change is good in sport though. If you do the same thing repetitively, you’ll get very good at doing the same thing. If you’re not getting closer to your goals by doing this, you probably need to try something else.
Having suffered the effects of runner’s reflex (somehow signing up to another race having just been demoralised about the same thing), I learned of something that caught my interest. A PhD researcher in my local institute was seeking volunteers for a study. You had to be between 18 and 40, luckily I had just turned 18 two months previous (ahem, cough). Their research was examining the effects of maximal strength training on endurance runners. I knew after Dublin that I needed to do something different; this was different.
sign me up Scotty!
I made contact with the researcher, not knowing really what I was signing up for. “Hello, my name is Jonathan. I’d like to be a guinea pig please.” They told me to meet them in a few days time for some initial tests; I presumed the outcome would indicate my suitability for the study. The conversation was intriguing; they really knew what they were talking about. Further, the goals of the study were to assess an area that I had always wondered about but never had tested – running economy and efficiency.
I have had VO2max tests carried out previously. My scores range between 60-63 depending on the type of training that was I doing leading into the test. Those numbers are good for an athlete of my grade, they add up to impressive projections for distance races. It seems like these results indicate that I have at least some parts of the engine required for what I want (and perhaps a bit more). However, that leaves the unknowns of why the engine isn’t functioning at full capacity. I never had a blood lactate test done. Neither have I had any formal analysis of my running gait. Perhaps these are things that will provide answers to the unknowns?
Wherever it leads to, it will at least be something different to have tried in the hope that answers are waiting. One thing is for sure, I will have more data. Even if that data doesn’t prove anything conclusive, it may help narrow the focus on what is going wrong. Operation guinea pig is now underway!