Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tests, Assessments & Data-Collection

My warm-up. Taking it easy so as to prepare myself for the impending, increasing intensities. (Photo-credit: Matthew Wong)
Measurements are useful when you can use them. In science, measurements form the strong foundation of scientific basis and enquiry. Empirical evidence can be useful in backing up anecdotal evidence, and substantiating hypotheses and theories. Raw and refined data become reference points including benchmarks, de rigeur standards, and for calibration.
Harnessed for safety. Mouthpiece adjusted comfortably. (Photo-credit: Matthew Wong)
This afternoon, I had my fitness assessed at the Sports Performance Laboratory of Republic Polytechnic. I underwent a series of tests, from the physical to the physiological. I was hooked up to a treadmill and completed my sub-maximal stress test. As there were no medical personnel present (other than laboratory technicians and the course supervisor), the test protocol only explored the penultimate aspect of my lactate threshold. My blood was tested before and immediately after my run on the treadmill. I also acquired knowledge of my VO2 uptake (shy of my maximum ability). To keep us (the subjects safe), Sports Science experimenter, Matthew ensured we were hooked up to a harness in case anyone of us blacked out from exerting ourselves unduly. There was no shame (for four of us: Lap Huan, Joyce, and Robert) to stop the test once we experienced discomfort. Our fingers were pricked to measure blood-lactate levels, and our immediate Rate of Perceived Exertion (scale of 6-20) recorded, after dismounting from the stopped treadmill.
The whole set-up was assuring from the assessment team: from experimenter to laboratory-assistants to supervisor-on-duty. The whole process was non-threatening, respectful and useful. (Photo-credit: Matthew Wong)
We had some fun playing with the mouthpiece, making our pale impressions of Darth Vader. Most subjects we talked to expressed reservations about breathing into the transparent, plastic mouthpiece. I learnt that the expired air was collected with a more unpleasant mechanism years ago (clamped nostrils and a breathing apparatus similar to those used by scuba-divers). I enjoyed my first experience having a sophisticated battery of tests run on my fitness; I felt like a Space-Cadet in NASA. I also had a rewarding chat with students/friends like Dave Lem, Brian Tan and Kenneth Koh (a sub-11:00 Ironman finisher). With next weekend’s session (with a new variable), I will learn how fit I am for my next Ironman triathlon. I await, with deep, purposeful breaths.
The useful, subjective, however intuitive RPE Test: How hard did you go? (Photo-credit: Matthew Wong)
Leadership Lessons: How often do you put yourself to the test? Which measurements do you regularly administer? How do you measure your performance and progress? How often do you talk to your staff about their Individual Development Plan? How much do you measure and manage?

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