Friday, February 7, 2014

Metabolic Testing with the KSI Team

I love numbers and I love to break things down and analyze them. Each triathlon season I try to tackle a new variable and learn as much as I can as an athlete and coach. Over the past 14 triathlon seasons I've completed several VO2 max tests, sweat loss tests, threshold tests, wind tunnel testing, running stride analysis, and lactate tests. This season I decided I wanted to dial in on my metabolic efficiency. I have been very fortunate to have worked with the Korey Stringer Institute in the past. I've completed several of the above tests out at the IM World Championships and at the Timex Camp in the NY Giant's Performance Center under their supervision. Each time I have worked with the professionals from KSI, I have been very impressed with their attention to detail and their thirst for knowledge. It's a very friendly staff to work with. That can be important when you are being poked, prodded and hooked up to machines. Chris Thomas_1I have been very interested in learning about my metabolic efficiency ever since I returned to the Ironman distance in 2010. I have participated in over thirty five 70.3 distance races and I really have the nutrition aspect down for that distance and for shorter races. However, I have competed in the Ironman World Championship race seven times and I am still trying to figure out the best nutrition game plan for that combination of heat, wind, and humidity. Every athlete is unique. I see this all the time as a coach. Some younger athletes have lower heart rate thresholds than athletes ten plus years older even though in theory the younger athlete should have a higher threshold. There are athletes that can consume whatever they want during a race and their GI systems are totally fine throughout. While there are other athletes that have very sensitive guts. I, personally, fall into the later category. When I race, I triangulate three factors: heart rate, power, and perceived effort. I know my zones and I test frequently to make sure things are realistic and accurate. However, I have never identified my carb to fat burn ratios. My goal was to learn about several factors during the testing process. The first factor I wanted to determine was the intensity level that was the most efficient for training. The second factor I wanted to learn was how many carbs do I burn while at ironman effort and does my fat burn rate change as the intensity rises. We built my effort throughout the test until my carb to fat burn rates crossed over. At this crossover point, I was in between my 70.3 and olympic distance effort levels and my combined burn rate was up at twenty calories per minute. I was definitely ready to get off the bike at that point in the test as I had not been allowed to eat anything in over 6.5 hours. While I did have a few hunger pains by the end, I had another great experience testing with the KSI team and I have learned many things that I look forward to using in 2014.

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