Putting fitness to the test at the Peak Centre with MP Greg Fergus

Greg Fergus is a runner.

He also happens to be the Liberal Member of Parliament for the riding of Hull-Alymer, right across the Ottawa River in Gatineau.

Between family, friends and a long career in politics, Fergus has made the time to get outside and run ever since he got started with the sport over 15 years ago.

“I like it because it’s fun and the perfect way to de-stress,” he said.  “The social and community aspects of it are great as well.”

He’s run numerous half-marathons and, as he put it, “one successful marathon.”

“During the unsuccessful one, I was feeling good right up until around kilometer 21 when I started to hit that wall,” he said. “That’s when a guy flew by me and then stopped 100 yards later to throw up.”

“I took that as a sign that maybe that day wasn’t the best day to chase my marathon goal.”

He even had a daily run streak of over 800 days going—a streak that was cut short by a bout with stomach flu. After that streak ended, Fergus said it’s been a challenge to get back to the same level of consistency.

But there’s nothing that can motivate you quite like signing up for a race, which is exactly what he did; he’ll be running the Scotiabank Ottawa Half-Marathon on May 29, 2016.

With race day just over two months away, Fergus has been running on the many paths around his riding as he builds his base and gets in race day shape.

But now Fergus has a bit more knowledge on how to prepare thanks to the athletic trainers and staff at the Peak Centre for Human Performance in Kanata.

The Peak Centre works with and helps train athletes of all levels, from NHL players to Olympians to weekend warriors.

Even MPs looking for a new PB.

fergus-treadmillSo Fergus took a trip out to the Centre to get a fitness assessment and a better idea of how to structure his training so he can run his best.

What does the Peak Centre staff do to measure your fitness? They make you sweat.

One of the tests Fergus did was a v02 max test, which measures how much oxygen the body can consume under duress. The more you can use, the better you can perform in endurance sports like running.

To do the test, athletes strap on a blue oxygen mask hooked up to a computer and then hop on a treadmill. Things start slow at a light pace but get progressively more difficult, and eventually, super difficult.

While you’re on the treadmill pushing your body to its limits, the computer measures your breathing rate and staff take small blood samples to measure your blood-lactate levels.

It’s a bit of an intense experience to say the least.

“I tried to mentally prepare beforehand but it’s hard when you’re not sure how difficult the test is going to get,” he said.

When the test is finished, Peak uses the data to help athletes find out how hard they need to push themselves to reach their goals, including what heart rates they should aim for when training.

“It was challenging but the data it provides is really interesting,” Fergus said. “To know what’s going on inside your body while you’re running certainly gives you  new insights on how you train.”

Fergus is taking that new knowledge back to footpaths, stepping up his training, as he prepares for the Scotiabank Ottawa Half-Marathon in May.

As he gets set to run, Fergus has also challenged other MPs to run this May at the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend to highlight the importance of health and fitness in our communities.  You can challenge your MP to run by using the hashtag #CDNPoliRuns on Twitter.

Find out more about the Peak Centre for Human Performance.