A strange looking face mask with a series of attached hoses made the scene look a bit like a science fiction movie clip. Yes, it was science but it wasn’t fiction.
The scene was actually Mansfield’s own senior athlete Megan Rose connected to a VO2 test station at a Southeastern Oklahoma State laboratory. Under the care of a doctor and her new Savage Storm coach, the MHS runner began her college cross country career one day after being named the T. Franklin Boyd Tiger of the Year at an awards banquet in Mansfield.
Given an email conversation between Rose’s new college coach, Ronald Hair and her old coach John Mackey of Mansfield, it was clear the Lady Tiger was fit. Hair’s correspondence indicated Rose scored a very high 54.4 on the VO2 max test.
“We consider anything over 50 good,” said the email. “57 is the highest mark since we started testing 3 years ago.”
Maximal oxygen consumption, or VO2 max, describes the maximum volume of oxygen that an individual can utilize during extreme effort exercise. This test which is conducted on a specially equipped treadmill is commonly considered the best measuring tool for identifying cardiorespiratory fitness and aerobic endurance.
The more oxygen a person can utilize during high intensity exercise, the more energy a person can produce. Muscles need oxygen for prolonged aerobic exercise. To provide an adequate supply of oxygenated blood to those muscles, the heart must supply adequate amounts of blood with each beat.
The results on Rose will provide the Southeastern Oklahoma coaching staff important physiological information on their recently signed recruit. In response, the staff can prescribe the Mansfield native a training schedule that caters to her needs as she begins her college freshman cross country season next fall.
To understand the experience that Rose went through with her visit to the Durant, Oklahoma campus, the following is a personal account written by the Mansfield player. With her permission, what is being published is an excerpt from an email written by Rose to Mackey describing her day at the SOSU campus on May 9, 2018.
So, today I woke up early and went down to Durant because Coach (Ronald) Hair wanted my Vo2 max test number to help for summer work outs and to find out where I was. I didn’t know what the Vo2 test was, but Dr. Reed explained it to me. He is the guy who specializes in the Vo2 max tests for the athletes at SOSU.
So, he said that it measured my inhale and exhale to determine my maximum lung function and oxygen intake. It was pretty crazy and a neat experience. The Russian athlete on Rocky IV uses the same type of machine.
I put a heart monitor on and a big mouth piece that covers my whole mouth so that all my oxygen is going into the machine. I put on a nose plug so I couldn’t breath through my nose. This makes it hard as I couldn’t swallow and my mouth gets dry.
The mouthpiece is held in by a head guard attached at the top. There is also a tube to catch the drool, since athletes are trying so hard they tend to drool during this workout.
The process is simple, I start out at a two minute warm up, walking. Then, we go to the stages. Each stage increases incline more than speed on the special treadmill.
Each stage was three minutes long. So stage one and two was actually easy, I was basically walking up a hill. Stage three I walked a bit faster and the incline went up. Stage four was when I physically had to run and the incline increased to fourteen percent grade!
Coach Hair, Dr. Reed, an assistant and another future xc runner named Madelyn was in the room too. They were all cheering me on while Dr. Reed was telling me my numbers.
He wanted me to get at least a 50 on my test. He stated that the first time for anyone to do this is difficult and once one finished they believe they could have done better. The problem is the feeling of claustrophobia with all the mouthpieces and nose plugs.
So around stage four I was in the forties, the heart monitor stopped working, so there went that! But I continued anyways.
Stage five finally occurred. And that’s when fatigue set in. He told me before then that stage five was hard to get into and very few went beyond that. So my Vo2 max test was finally at a fifty as I was battling the incline.
In reality I was not even going faster than an eleven minute Mile pace! But due to the other stages and the incline, it was tough.
They all encouraged me and I tried my hardest during stage five. One full minute in, and I couldn’t finish. So I stopped with a 54.4 Vo2 max test. He said the record was a 57, so I think I did pretty good, especially for my age and size.
They all seemed like the test was a pretty great number, and I think it helps represent my oxygen intake and lung function.
The whole process was a good experience and was very entertaining. I can’t wait to do it again. The athletes don’t do it too often.
The reason I couldn’t finish was not the burning in my lungs, it was the steepness on my legs! My legs were more tired than anything else. I drooled a lot during the whole sixteen minutes.
While I was down there I also got my summer workout schedule, applied for housing , and got assigned my classes to be a teacher and a coach.