When Mika Luoto – coaching monitor of the Finnish Triathlon Association – heard about INSCYD years ago, he was very skeptical. Will it add value? Is their field test without any lactate or oxygen measurement reliable? In this interview he explains how comparing his own lab test results with INSCYD results convinced him to work with us. He also explains how he uses INSCYD for testing and planning training programs and Ironman races. He even finishes with a recommendation to all athletes, coaches and federations. Read or watch the interview now!

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Mika Luoto. I started triathlon at the beginning of 1990s and had a professional triathlete career for about 10 years. During that time, I participated five times in Hawaii in the professional category. Every time I finished in top 20 and twice in top 10.

I retired triathlon about 15 years ago and started to coach Finnish triathletes. Last three years I’ve been working for the Finnish Triathlon Federation. First, I used to be a national coach, but now I am a coaching monitor. I however still coach the national team and some of my own athletes.

How did you find out about INSCYD?

In 2010 I started to find out about INSCYD. I then asked my friends – who had done INSCYD tests before – and realized that it could be really good for our national team. Especially for the long-distance athletes.

Were you skeptical at first?

Yes, I was a little skeptical. I wondered how much extra value it would bring us. But I also had my thoughts about how accurate the test results are, because with INSCYD you don’t need to go to the lab. You can just do a field test, for example on your own bike.

Even though that is perfect from a practical point of view, I was not sure how accurate and reliable the test results would be without going to a lab.

What convinced you to work with INSCYD, despite being skeptical at first?

We first did an INSCYD test and then compared the results with lab test results. Of course for the same athletes. Looking at the lab test and INSCYD test, we found out that the results were really, really accurate. Very similar. This was the case even though we did not use lactate samples or oxygen uptake measurements for the INSCYD test. So it was really good!

“Looking at the lab test and INSCYD test, we found out that the results were really, really accurate. Very similar.” Mika Luoto – coaching monitor Finnish Triathlon Association

Can you tell us a little bit about the tests you use currently?

We use both the remote PPD test and the lactate test. When comparing to traditional lab tests, the remote test is much easier to do. You don’t have to book the lab weeks before and therefore you can do the test when you feel that you have to do it. As a result, we can do this test more often and easier.

We also use the lactate test when we don’t want the athlete to push full effort during the test. Sometimes this is better and easier for the athlete. However, the PPD test is even easier because we don’t have to take the lactate. So the coach doesn’t have to be there.

How do you use the INSCYD metabolic profile in practice?

With INSYCD we have a more precise metabolic profile of our athletes. We fore example want to know exactly how much carbohydrates the athlete uses when he rides the bike at certain power or runs at certain speed.

With this information, we can plan a better training program. It also enables us to plan the races so that the athlete would have enough energy to finish the race.

Of course, INSCYD also helps us with planning the right race power, so athletes can achieve the best race results.

Mika Luoto after finishing an Ironman triathlon
Mika Luoto

What did you learn about VLamax, the so called “anaerobic (glycolytic) brother” of the well-known VO2max?

For some athletes, we have found that they have a way too high VLamax. Especially if they do the longer half Ironman or Ironman races. If they have a high VLamax, we have to try to reduce it so they become more efficient by burning less carbohydrate. To decrease their VLamax, we have planned a training program in which they train more in their FatMax zone.

Why would you recommend other coaches, athletes and federations to work with INSCYD too?

I think INSCYD brings more flexibility. You can do the metabolic test whenever you or your athletes need to do that. You don’t have to book the lab beforehand. It also brings more accuracy to the race planning. It tells us how hard an athlete can push during the race and
still maintain that power or speed up until the finish line. It also tells us how much energy (carbohydrates) a certain race effort will cost.

I think that is very useful information for other athletes and coaches to know.