This test was one of the prizes I had to choose from that I received for high gym attendance during the holiday season. The test involved wearing this green mask that basically made me look like a fly (see pic on the right, although I was on a treadmill and my mask is green and mine to keep). The mask blocks off oxygen/carbon dioxide from coming from/out of anywhere but a tube that is connected to a reading device. I also had to wear a chest strap heart monitor covered in gel.
The test began with walking 3 mph, increasing to 6 mph, incline then going from 0.0-6.0 grade. Since I was still a bit run down from a cold, I was having a tough time toward the end of the test, but I made it through.
The result? VO2 Max is 49 (38 is average for my age and gender). So I am above average (the top of the chart was 60). Somehow I was a bit unsettled that I didn't do better, but hey, what can I expect? I'm a geek, which is why I chose this prize over a massage.
So I learned that I burn fat best at certain heart rates. Burning fat means that I can rely on that as an energy source when my sugar stores are gone. Definitely worth exploring over these last few weeks of training for the marathon. I preordered the Garmin Forerunner 405, but I don't think that will come in time, or if it does, I don't think I will have time to use it effectively.
In the future, I can test again for $20. I think it is a worthwhile thing to do. Just like I am in class, I will not settle for just "above average," though I do know that there is a genetic limit to this as well.