Man, I love when a December of reduced running is self-imposed and not injury related! I really enjoy taking this month to just noodle around. It does my robot mind good to not have a set workout schedule, to not feel anxiety about hitting my splits, to not eat a bowl of pasta Friday nights ahead of a Saturday long run. This month gives me a chance to look back on the year, to start playing around with what adventures await in the next year and to free up time to do one of my favorite holiday activities - baking! This year I have also added knitting to the rotation and am just kicking myself for not learning sooner. Do you people have any idea how relaxing it is? I wish I had it last year when on the injured-reserve list as it would have helped alleviate many a meltdown. But I digress...
I find that realllly pulling back on the miles (I am down to 3x running/week and only ran 15 miles last week. Add 2 days of swimming and that was that!) helps me reset for the next big thing. Absence makes this heart grow fonder and I love the feeling of missing structured training in that weird way that you can enjoy something that makes you sad (see also: looking at old pictures of places that don't exist anymore but you feel sentimental for, the feeling of being lonely for your loved ones when apart but grateful that they even exist to miss).
I also spend more time floating around on the interwebz and reading magazines, checking out articles that catch my eye. I recently came across this one, in the NY Times magazine. Did you catch it? If not, go have a look, I'll wait.
*whistles to self*
*flip around cable channels in hotel room that I don't have at home. Confirm the suspicion that I'm not missing anything*
Yeah, so did you do it? Did you figure out your fitness age? I was delighted to see that I was "under 20" as I've always been a bit of a late bloomer and often act like a teenager :) More interesting, though, was the estimate of my VO2 max. For those of you who have read even one running article in the last few years, there is no way that you have escaped this term. It's like "kale" or "quinoa" - you can run, but you can't hide from these buzzwords. They will find you!
In case you just skimmed those articles, VO2 max is generally considered one of the best indicators of fitness, particularly as it relates to endurance. In the simplest terms, the higher your VO2 max number, the more oxygen you are able to uptake into your system and the longer you can "go". Your number is partially related to gender, partially to genes and partially to how active you are and partially to some things we don't even understand (that last one is for the people who are reading this in 200 yrs and are like "ohh, haha, these 21st century folks thought they were sooo advanced and knew everything but they knew nothing about VO2 max! How quaint!". Well, 23rd century scientist, I did know enough to know we don't know it all. So take that in your pipe and smoke it!).
A test of your VO2 max is pretty expensive (quick Google search indicated ~$300) and generally involves a treadmill or stationary bike where you are hooked up to a sci-fi looking mask and put through a pretty strenuous protocol. That sounds horrible.
But plugging some numbers into an algorithm that has already been tested and showed a high correlation between these factors and predicted VO2 max? That I could do! The online calculator showed that I would be a 47, which I felt good about, given that it put me in the "Excellent" category for a person of my age and gender. I crowed around like a peacock for a minute until I recalled that elite endurance athletes are know for their high VO2 maxs and decided to look some up... let's see...how about Kilian Jornet, my boyfriend-who-does-not-know-me-but-that-is-ok-bc-this-video-makes-me-drool-and-I-probably-could-not-muster-the-ability-to-string-together-two-words-if-we-ever-met-anyway? He comes in at ...holy shiz, at an 89.5!!! And that is not even the record, which is held by some cycling dude at 97.5!! All right, all right, everyone knows that men's are naturally higher than women's, let's look at the ladies. How about Joan Benoit, a running hero of mine and decided member of the XX club? 78.6!!!
Well. That "excellent" is starting to feel like a participation award for the kid who doesn't have a lick of coordination but that you don't want to feel bad (confession: that kid was me in 3rd grade soccer, lol). God, it just really makes me even more impressed with elites. And yes, I know they hit the genetic lottery, but it takes a whole lot more than your combination of ACGT to go to the places they inhabit and I remain impressed by their dedication and hard work.
Meanwhile, me and my 47 are going to show exactly why we aren't elite and kick back to enjoy the rest of this month!