It's time to start getting serious about being in shape for the X-Alps. To begin my training more scientifically, I did a VO2 Max test on the treadmill a little while back. After a warmup, I started running wearing a mask which measures the amount of CO2 and O2 I was using. Each time 2 minutes passed my speed increased, until the point where I couldn't run anymore. I think this was 20 something minutes long, I can't remember exactly. I do remember that it hurt by the end!
The VO2 Max test is important in that it tells me the intensity where I am burning more calories from fat. As speed increases, calories start coming directly from sugar, which allows me to run faster but not for very long. For long races, it's better to stay at a pace that allows me to burn the most fat, since those stores are almost unlimited even on the thinnest people.
Now that I have the numbers and my ideal heart rate for burning the most fat while exercising, a lot of my workouts are going to be slow, in Zone 1 and Zone 2. To be honest, it hardly feels like I am getting a workout, which is what will allow me to carry my pack all day long in the X-Alps. Once a week, though, I will bump it up to a harder workout in Zone 3. This will feel like I am finally pushing the pace a little while still burning fat, unlike Zone 4 & 5 where I'm just using carbs.
As I get more fit over the winter and spring, I will be repeating this test a couple of times. Hopefully my results will show that I am going faster while maintaining the same heart rate, and burning a greater percentage of fat!