Question: I just did some physiological testing at a university lab. The results were depressing! According to the physiologist, my wattage at lactate threshold and watts per kilogram of bodyweight were both below average for my racing age group. But last summer I was on the podium many times. Why the discrepancy between test results and race results? — Mariellen H.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: As you may remember from your school years, some people are good test takers and others aren’t. Many people who do miserably at tests do great in real life situations. It sounds like you’re a “gamer,” an athlete who outperforms herself in competition.
Consider the standards the lab is using to compare athletes. Perhaps it doesn’t have a sufficient number of tests for building valid norms. Perhaps because of few subjects, several who happen to do well on an ergometer skew the scale. But as we know, lots changes out on the road.
It’s never good to give great weight to physiological tests — or feel depressed about them. They evaluate only one part of the competition equation — power. They don’t reveal anything about tactics, ability to read a race, teamwork, sprinting talent or guts.
As exercise physiologist Andy Coggan, Ph.D., says, “The best predictor of performance is performance itself.”