Monday, February 11, 2008
Mat Steinmetz…..My black spiderman??
Those who have seen Spiderman 3 will be familiar with the introduction of the black spiderman. This villain entered the movie as the antithesis to the regular Spiderman (which was, IMHO, a pretty darn cool concept). He was the opposite in every way to red spidey.
Seeing Spiderman 3 got me thinking as to who my antithesis in life might be. That’s a tough question, considering how far from the norm I fall on many fronts, but at least from a physiological perspective, EC’s own, Mat Steinmetz has to come close.
Mat and I recently did bike FUEL tests here at the EC lab in Boulder. We both put out some pretty good #’s but in very different ways (see charts below).
Of course, I’m going to throw up the chart that gives me the upper hand first :-) If we define AeT as the workload that elicits the first material uptick in the lactate curve, for me this occurs at 220W. For Mr Stein, while a little harder to see from the curve, if we pull in his baseline and w/up data it is clear that the 160W stage is the first indication of rising lactate.
If we define the lactate threshold values as 1mmol/L above baseline, Mat’s Lactate Threshold occurs at 220W, while mine occurs at 240W (at this point the curves, and our relative abilities at this physiological point come much closer together).
Finally, the onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA), defined by either the modified Dmax method or the workload the first elicits a 1mmol/L jump in lactate occurs for Mat at 260W, and for me at 280W.
While, if looking at these numbers in isolation, one may expect that I would have the upper hand, in real world long course racing this doesn’t (at this point in time) bear out. A reason for that may be found if we compare our relative substrate profiles from the same test:
The black area of the chart illustrates the relative contribution of fat oxidation to overall caloric output at each respective intensity. It’s pretty clear to see from the charts who’s going to run out of fuel sooner (even at relatively high power outputs).
So, it looks like the score is 1-1 and the battle of Big A and Mighty M continues.
However, Mat is not the real villain in this epic battle. Nope, the villain here is much more sneaky, dangerous and a master of using the dark arts to draw me under his spell:
OK, so here’s my personal rationale….. As an endurance athlete training 15-20hrs per week, I’m going to be taking in 500-700g/CHO per day. Most of this CHO will (should) be in the form of sports nutrition products. This equates to (ball park) an extra 2400kcal/day I need to buy just to keep the motor running. Now, I can buy the premium stuff (Clif Bars etc) for ~5c/kcal or I can pump the low octane budget stuff for ~ about ¼ c/kcal. Let’s not kid ourselves, with all of the vitamin and mineral additives, added protein, blah blah blah, what our body really needs at the end of the workout is quick, easily digestable sugar. I can get the rest of that stuff in better (more natural), more appropriate forms throughout the day.
So, that’s the sensible rationale for throwing my 6 boxes of Pop-Tarts in the shopping trolley each week, now for the reality of what actually happens. If my Pop-Tarts do not make an immediate exit to the garage after unpacking the groceries (to where all of the other ‘sports nutrition products’ go), they get placed in easy view in the pantry and fall into this ‘no-mans land’. Is it a breakfast product? Is it a snack food? Is it a replenishment food after a long, hard session. Unfortunately, for some reason, if it doesn’t have “sports nutrition product” printed on it, my mind is completely unable to make the distinction and it becomes all of the above. I think the one Pop Tart identity that has most led to my substrate demise has been the ‘breakfast food’. Over recent weeks, I have been known to slam a Pop tart or 2 before a ride. My body is smart enough to know that if I’m going to throw that much fuel into my blood stream before a workout, it’s sure as heck not going to bother liberating a bunch of FFA’s when it doesn’t need them. Long story short, my body gets even better at burning carbs and worse at burning fat despite an increased training load.
So, that is my diabolical plan over the next little bit – get sugar out of the house. Matty Steinmetz, you may have won this battle but you’ll never win the war mwaaahaaaahaaaa…