The Week I Did My First-Ever VO2 Max Test

This Week:

  • Going back to the drawing board with the business idea I was researching.
  • My first-ever VO2 max test as a non-performance athlete.
  • What it’s like to be a pedestrian in Kuala Lumpur.

January 2024

Su M T W Th F S

Where In The World Was I?

  • 🇲🇾 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Metrics From The Week

More on that red recovery and why I only had 2 workouts this week on Strava later.

Business Progress Update

Well 😅 I basically tossed all the stuff I talked about last week out the window this week.

BUT I think I’m learning and reigning in on the process, which is incredibly valuable.

I did more researching into the influencer marketing opportunity I was looking at last week, trying to really hone-in on the exact unique value proposition. But as I thought it through, I started to question if what I saw was even feasible for me, especially given what I’m looking for.

I started to question if I bit off more than I chew with this opportunity. And I think the answer was yes.

So I went back to my trusty steed (ChatGPT 😅) to give me some validation. It was a bit of a disorganized mess of a work session, but I re-evaluated and refined the process that I’m following.

The major change/takeaway I got from this was that I walked back on what I said (can’t remember if I wrote it somewhere, but I definitely mentioned it in some video) about NOT solving a problem that I personally have/had.

Given my situation, my experience, and what I’m looking for, I’m of the understanding now that it makes the most sense to go after a problem I personally have/had (best case) or that I at least tangentially understand (okay). There’s just SO much context to learn when you don’t live a problem.

I talked about all this in this video. That second half of the video, sitting on the curb, felt good.

So this week I went back to the “idea” drawing board, but with more structure.

I listed out all the topics I’m interested in, skills/expertise I have, niches I feel like I fit into, problems that I have/had, and solutions that I’ve already created or new potential solutions.

This process was actually quite fulfilling because this is not the first time I’ve pretty much done this same process. But this time, I had created a pretty robust list.

Unfortunately none of the ideas really felt like “winners” but this was kind of the tradeoff I have to make for deeply understanding the problems.

That is, until one evening I was in the shower and an idea flew into my head from left field. It was a mixture of some ideas from videos I had been listening to recently.

I’ve been running with that idea this week, diving deeper into the market, detailing out the core value prop, and the competitors in the space.

I will say in terms of general feeling and motivation, it does make a big difference in my mindset working on something where I genuinely feel excited to solve the problem.

Learning from last week’s 180º reversal, I’ll leave it at that for now, lol.

The VO2 Max Test

I had heard that doing a VO2 max test is one of the absolute best indicators for fitness and is a really strong indicator for longevity.

I’ve been wanting to capture this “chapter” of my life in data lately. It’s been the best I’ve ever felt and I want to capture that feeling into numbers so that I can see how things change over time.

So, I looking for a place to do a VO2 max test in Kuala Lumpur. Turns out there is one!

The place I went to caters towards performance athletes (ironmans, marathons, triathlons, ultra marathons, that kind of stuff). I felt a little like “mmm I probably shouldn’t be here 😂” but the trainers were incredibly professional and respectful.

I talked about my experience in this video:

Some highlights to note:

  • I was really happy with my performance (regardless of the result). I hadn’t pushed myself that hard in years. I knew it was all mental. There’s something about that physical and mental state, like 2/3rds the way through, I realized I was completely present. My eyes were focus on a single point, my mind was empty, and I was just focused on feeling my legs. It reminded me of some recent runs (~2 weeks ago?).
  • On the max/peak test, I ran until I felt my leg muscles literally starting to fail. It was like the feeling of limping, my legs couldn’t spring anymore and I had to intentionally focus on “lifting” them up and over. I think I made it ~45 seconds in that state before I finally tapped out and stopped.
  • As for results, I was honestly a bit shocked at my results. I don’t really train that intentionally and hardly ever run with the intention of “training.” The guy put me in the “recreational” demographic for comparison ranges and as he was going over the results with me he said “ehhhh yeah you really should be in the next category up” 😄
  • It felt really rewarding to really push my body to the limit. It made me think about all the sitting I do every day. We all have this incredible vessel, the human body, and seeing it pushed to the limit is incredibly satisfying. I feel like I’m in this sports car and all I do is drive it in rush hour stop-and-go traffic. My perspective has DEFINITELY shifted from this test. It was absolutely worth it.
  • I’m giddy with excitement at the comprehensive report I got with all the data – heart rate, zones, girth measurements, body fat %, metabolism rates, and so much more. I’m excited to see how all these metrics change over time.

The Anti-Pedestrian City

I’m gonna be straight up honest with you… Being a pedestrian in this city is pretty awful.

The public transit is actually quite good – super clean stations and transit lines, fairly regular service (every ~4-6min peak hours, 7-12min off peak from my experiences). I haven’t used the buses.

The problem lies in the walking routes where transit CAN’T take you or it just doesn’t make sense to take it.

Example 1

Basically every day I have to cross this intersection outside my hostel. It’s a huge 6 lane “stroad” (3 lanes each side) intersecting a 4 lane “stroad” (honestly everything’s a stroad here lol).

I have to get to the other side diagonally so it usually takes 2 crosses. There is a beg button but honestly I don’t think it does anything.

This is how the light cycle goes here (using the image above):

  • The front middle traffic gets the green AND green right turn arrow (they drive on the left here)
  • Then the traffic where the StreetView car is gets the green AND right turn arrow
  • Then the traffic to the left gets the green AND the right turn arrow
  • Then the traffic on the right gets the green AND the right turn arrow

All the while you’re standing there mashing the cross button like “uhhh do the pedestrians ever get to cross?”

Yes, after 4, FOUR, light cycles, the pedestrians get to cross.

But here’s the 🤦‍♂️…

You get 15 seconds to cross.

15 seconds.

I timed it one day and it takes me 20 seconds, 20 seconds! to cross the 6 lanes.

And then the entire 4 light cycle goes again (another 3+ minutes).

If you aren’t paying attention, if you’re looking down at your phone, and you miss the first 5 seconds of the cross, you’re just screwed, you either have to sprint or you have to wait the 4 light cycles until the next cross.

Same with if you need to cross twice.

15 seconds to cross once. 3+ minutes of lights. 15 seconds to cross again.

It’s absolutely bonkers.

That is, unless you cross diagonally, which, if you’re thinking about walking that in 15 seconds, forget about it 😂 It looks like a football field in length when you’re standing there.

What many people end up doing here is crossing halfway while the traffic has the red light, then stand either in the road or in the median waiting for a gap in the cars, at which point they’ll do this kind of scurried “Naruto run” across the street trying to dodge cars and motorbikes.

Example 2

To contrast that example though, I took a train (most of the way) to the VO2 max place. It drops you off right next to this 6 lane highway. I was thinking great 😅, silly me for thinking I could walk this last 15 minutes from the metro station.

Here’s the walk BACK from the VO2 max place going to the train station:

(at the end of ^ that video is an example of the “run” people do that I’m talking about)

BUT both times, BOTH times I hit the cross button, within 10 seconds the lights turned red and the pedestrian cross signal turned green. Nice!

What was less-nice about that walk was having to cross a different intersection of 2 4-lane roads that simply didn’t have a crosswalk, like at all. No pedestrian signal, not even markings on the ground 😅

And yes, at the other side of that image is indeed a mom walking her son back from school (which I just passed) across this death-machine intersection.

Example 3

I think it was all perfectly encapsulated in my run back from the gym last night.

I wish I could take you on this run, it’s kind of mad.

Here’s a pic from the nice peaceful 5-lane (what feels like) highway that I run next to 🙂

But anyways, there’s this one way 2/3-lane road that I have to cross. It’s right next to the exit of this shopping mall and has a crosswalk, so you’d think the pedestrian light would be quick.


And the traffic flowing into this one lane road is a merge and doesn’t have any sort of light, so it’s just a constant and continual flow of cars.

I stood here for like a full minute, then decided to run up the one-way road to try to cross somewhere else. There was a crosswalk midway up the road. I mashed the cross button, stood there pacing back and forth (remember, this is a run) for a good solid 1-2 minutes…

No light change, continual flow of cars…

Now impatient and frustrated, I finally gave up and continued running up the road until the merge point, where I jay-walked across both roads because there was finally a gap in the cars.

Drivers Have Priority

The other thing I think I need to mention here is that it’s not just the physical infrastructure, but drivers too.

You have to be really cautious and aware while crossing the street too because drivers will just cut you off and drive right in front of you.

I was crossing here one day this week…

A car appeared in that straight/turn lane as I was walking towards the crosswalk. The car didn’t have their turn signal on to turn left so I continued to walk into the crosswalk.

I made one step into the road and abruptly halted as I watched the car start to turn towards me. I probably could’ve kept walking and they would’ve stopped, but I took zero chances and stopped instead.

The car didn’t stop or change speeds at all, just whizzed right by in front of me, almost clipping me with the mirror.

Things like this have happened more than once…

My Extremist Philosophy

Here’s my extremist philosophy that I’m trying so desperately to force onto the world:

A city should never have pedestrians doing this Naruto run/scurry across oncoming traffic to get across the street. There should never even be the thought “man this light is taking long, okay there’s a gap coming up in the cars, I’m just gonna run across.”

Go ahead, call me extremist. Cast me off from society as a lunatic detached from reality 😂

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people on the side walk perk up as if they’re starting to panic, start looking both ways, and then literally run across the road (that has a green light) in order to get across the street. It happens SO much.

My opinion: this situation should NEVER happen. It’s just a recipe for someone to get hit, especially if they don’t know what the traffic pattern is and where cars are coming from.

My first time cross this intersection outside the hostel, I refused to cross outside of the green crosswalk light because I hadn’t learned the traffic pattern. I’m at the point where I know and can expect where traffic comes from, so I feel I can more safely cross at non-crosswalks.

To me it’s very clear that whoever designed the light cycles here drives a car, which is unfortunate…

But also, I don’t even think I’d want to drive a car here as the alternative. There’s just so many stoplights and so much traffic. It seems like a pain-in-the-ass to drive here too.

I think the reason this has become such a topic for me in this post is because it affects literally multiple decisions per day, pretty much every time I walk outside the hostel I have to cross a street at some point. (Oh and maybe the obvious point about almost getting hit by cars… 😅)

My last point here is that this has been a big topic for me more than just this week, more like the past ~2 years. I think I have a lot of it documented in these Life Update posts. I think it’s bubbled up so heavily because I actually think the light cycles and pedestrian walking experience is worse than my experiences in the U.S. Like in the U.S. you’ll at least get a walk signal (if you press the button) after the current flow of traffic switches to a red light.

To balance things out, I think there’s a good bit of reframing expectations here. After all, this is SE Asia and not the U.S. or Europe. But I mean at the same time this is clearly a developed city… I think I’m comparing it to my experiences in the U.S. because it actually feels comparable. Like com’on all these big cities are pretty much the same just with different themes to them.

Phew, okay. Apparently I needed to get all that out 😅

Onto the rest of the post.

One More Thing

Wait, one more thing.

I feel like there’s gonna be one person out there who hasn’t read any of my previous posts and will think that all I do is complain about Kuala Lumpur.

This city is actually incredible, it’s blown away my expectations. The food is incredibly affordable, yet high quality. There are numerous cheap (like really cheap!) options for meals and local food. You get all the amazing things of a well-developed city (infrastructure, transit, food, health care, services) but at an amazingly affordable price. And KL is a pretty big hub for flights too, so flights are really cheap to get around! And the visa process is super easy – visa-free stay for up to 90 days no questions asked! I’m surprised KL isn’t on more people’s radar.

Okay okay NOW onto the rest of the post.

More Walking = Bad?

I started experimenting with walking about 15-20 minutes (most of the walk does NOT cross any roads, thankfully, which is what makes it pleasant) to this mall for lunch. I was under the impression that “having to” walk a long way for lunch is bad because, well, it takes longer.

But I realized this week, maybe “this is a feature, not a bug.” Maybe the longer walk means I’m taking a longer, more present (not on my phone watching videos) break from focused attention, allowing me to come back in the afternoon more fresh.

And it’s been working well so far! (just the past 2 days). I feel a lot more fresh and I haven’t been watching YouTube during my lunches (you can check my YouTube screen time image from above).

Some Other Stuff

Finally back in an Anytime Fitness! First of all, I couldn’t believe there were Anytime Fitness locations here in SE Asia. But secondly, this gym is insanely good – super clean, brand new high quality equipment, tons of space. Ohhhh yeah it feels so good to be back.

Lots of Chinese New Year decorations and celebrations (headphones warning: loud)

Interesting Content From The Week

Framing | Full Guide (Kris from 1M)

Today’s Men Live Like Children (Rant) (Kris from 1M)

Average Man is a 3/10 (Part 3) (Kris from 1M)

Societies Immaturity Crisis (Kris from 1M)

Honestly can’t remember my takeaways from each individually, but I was listening to these videos to/from my trip to the VO2 max place. I resonated a lot with his idea of this maturity gap (from the “Today’s Men Live Like Children (Rant)” video). Getting drunk “with the boyssss” every weekend is popular because it’s cheap, it’s affordable, anyone can do it. The penthouse flat in London, the drop-of-the-hat vacation first class down to Marbella, the gorgeous and sophisticated woman by your side, the suit and tie, these are expensive. Most people can’t afford this life and end up just settling for what’s comfortable, beers with the boys on the weekend. Don’t settle.

Food From The Week

(Not pictured is probably 4-5? other bowls from Agrain (brown rice, tempeh, chicken, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) that I’ve been pretty much getting the same every day. That place is fantastic.)

Also, I found another Food City food court (same place from when I was in Komune Living) this week. They have the absolute best bubble teas (for cheap!). Well, I watched them actually MAKE the bubble teas this week and uh… 😅 The middle part of this video has my story 😂 (starting around 5:45). I swear I couldn’t have scripted that moment better.

This Bulk Isn’t Really Bulking

I haven’t weighed myself in about a month. I got my weight at the VO2 max place and it was a couple lbs under what I wanted. Then I did this weight+body composition analysis scale thingamahbobber at Anytime Fitness and it came in 5lbs below the VO2 max’s weight. I think that was just a bad read, but both of these are in the wrong direction I want my weight to be going…

So this week I decided to get more intentional about this bulk. I got some extra goodies from the grocery store to be able to snack on and make my own overnight oats.

Feeling WAY better about being able to make progress now.

What’s Next?

Man, I’m just excited to get back into this Anytime Fitness I found!


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