Last week I had the opportunity to visit the new Henry Ford Human Performance Clinic with my friend Megan. The Performance Clinic is part of the Sports Medicine Program and is housed in the William Clay Ford Center for Athletic Medicine in New Center. I was going with Megan for three reasons:
1. As Megan's coach, I was super excited to see the data and use it to adjust her training plan with her most accurate RIGHT NOW paces. Being there to see it firsthand and ask questions would be more helpful than having Megan explain everything after.
2. When my toe fracture heals I will be going through the process myself. By going through it with Megan I will have a better understanding of everything when I get to do it.
3. (Most important reason) Everything is better with a friend!
Megan lives just a few blocks away from the William Clay Ford Center so I drove to her house and we walked over for the 7:30am appointment. After checking in Eric came to get us from the waiting room. I met Eric while he was working at RUNdetroit. Now he has this super cool job in Exercise Physiology and Preventative Cardiology and was looking professional in his non-running shoes and lab coat.
Megan had some forms to fill out and then Eric tested her cholesterol, blood sugar, and triglycerides (she had to fast overnight). He did this with a finger prick and test strip, which then went into this little machine and quickly read her results. Much faster than going to a lab and having blood drawn!
Next Allison, Eric's intern, took Megan's height and weight. Then it was time for her to go into the Bod Pod! The Bod Pod calculates body fat percentage and lean body mass. It does this displacing air around you in the Pod. (Similar to a water dunk that would displace water.) The Bod Pod also calculates RMR (resting metabolic rate), which is the number of calories an individual burns daily at rest. We felt this was the most vital piece of information from the Bod Pod, as both Megan and I tend to not fuel enough as marathon training miles increase. Knowing how many calories we need to sustain our bodies on a daily basis without moving - not to mention running X number of miles, strength training, etc. - will help us make better choices with our nutrition. Our nutritionist will love the information, as well!
After the Bod Pod fun, it was time to head to the treadmill! Megan spoke with two different doctors - Dr. Nayak and Dr. Kateyian - to discuss both the test and her health/running history. Megan was hooked up to an EKG to monitor her heart and fitted with a mouthpiece to measure her oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange. This is what would give us her VO2 max and anaerobic/lactate threshold.
Eric had already programmed everything into the computer. Megan would have a minute warm-up and then the real work would begin. She would run for about 10 minutes at an all-out effort until she had reached her anaerobic threshold. We were all cheering for her while she ran! Dr. Kateyian was monitoring her O2 and CO2 exchange and let Eric know when had hit her VO2 max. At this point Eric dropped the pace so she could cool down enough to have a seat again. That was the end of testing!
Then Dr. Kateyian went over Megan's results and explained her VO2 max and lactate threshold. He put everything in very clear terms and didn't dumb anything down for us, which was cool. After this we sat down with Eric to review ALL of the results. While we had been speaking with Dr. Kateyian, Eric had been converting the treadmill results to paces. This is where I was most excited!! Up until this point, Megan had been training based on spring race results. Now we had paces based on accurate, RIGHT NOW scientific data. And it's specific to Megan and her body. As a coach, this was such a useful piece of information. I went home and got right to work on updating her pacing plan.
I can't wait to go through this process as soon as my toe is healed and I can run again! I would highly recommend it to all athletes and coaches. The cost for the clinic is $299.
Check out Megan's website Happy Legs, Happy Heart for a more thorough write-up of the process from her perspective.