I took my VO2max test the other day, and it went great.
We had decided on the Bruce protocol, which calls for the treadmill speed and grade to be raised every three minutes, starting at a relatively easy pace of 1.7 mph on a 10 percent grade. By the time I called it quits, 11 minutes later, I was going 4.2 miles per hour on a 16 percent grade.
Happily, didn't fall off the back of the treadmill, throw up, or faint. I just ran as hard as I could. My fear was that the mask was going to make me feel like I couldn't get enough air in, but that part was just fine.
In the end, I boasted a 45.3 mL/kg/min relative VO2max. According to ACSM, that's in the 90th percentile for women my age! And, more importantly, within just a couple of points of my 52-year-old professor's 47 mL/kg/min max, which he kindly posted so people could compare the two sets of results.
My max heart rate topped out at 163 BPM, about 10 points lower than my age-predicted max, which is somewhat weird, but I'm not quibbling.
All in all, it was a very satisfying test, and I feel rather lucky to have been able to take this test--he only chooses one student per class to take it (I lobbied pretty hard). In the real world, it's a $300 test, out of reach for most folks.