Time once again to look at another workout that will help you take your running to the next level. One of the key systems that any distance runner needs to improve is Vo2Max. This is the ability for you body to utilize oxygen as it enters your lungs. While we use some of it a large amount of oxygen goes unused and exhaled with the next breathe. The measurement of Vo2Max is the amount of oxygen that a runner can utilize during intense running such as a race. The more you can use the more ATP a runner can produce and the faster you can run. Now don't confuse this with Lactate threshold which is the point at which the runners body during intense running begins to build up lactate levels which eventually will slow you. The issue for today is how do we improve Vo2Max. There is no magic spell or pill. It will take some hard work and for some of you a change in your routines. If you haven't done any form of speed work and have been doing easy/long runs for awhile you more than likely have improved but might have seen that the improvement is much more gradual now if at all. You need to add speed work which come in many forms to improve more than just your endurance. Vo2Max is just one of the other systems and here is how to improve your running through bouts of Vo2Max workouts. Ideally you will have run a 5K or other race recently so that you can use that time to calculate the correct pace to run these workouts. Its best to find a track or a well measure loop to do these but even a trail or area where you can run 1000 meters without traffic lights will work. We will assume for now that you are on a track. 1K or 1000 meters is 2.5 laps on a standard track. You may be asking why such a strange distance 2.5 laps instead of 2 or 3? This has to do with finding a distance that has you run at that intensity for the correct amount of time. If the distance is too short and you are too fast you will not get the correct workout and if the distance is too far you will not run at the right pace to improve this system. Ideally for a Vo2Max workout you will run between 2.5 min to 5 min at the Vo2Max intensity level. So doing 800's for some runners will have them running in under 2:30 so that too short. for others running 1200 or 1600 repeats will have them taking 6 or 7 min so that's too far. 1K's tend to be the happy medium where most runners can stay within the 2.5 o 5 min range. Now what pace producing the correct intensity. This is where your recent 5K comes in or any race you ran recently. Plug that into our training pace calculator and look at the pace you get for Vo2Max. Now look below at the pace chart and see what that time you should be hitting for each of your 1K repeats. So 2 items lets to figure out. How many reps to do and how much recovery between each rep. For this type of workout you should be around 2 to 5 miles of intensity meaning 4 to 8 reps of the 1K effort. Typical workout is 5 x 1K but as you get stronger build up to 8 in time. Recovery between each should be equal time of the hard effort it varies per runner. if it took you 3:45 to run the 1K then recovery for 3:45 as well. Now notice I said recover not rest. So don't stand still for that time. If you do you will get cold and stiff and not perform well on the next one. Run a 400 meter(1 lap) very slowly during that time. then go again! Don't forget to warm up with 1-2 miles of running and cool down with at least 1 mile of easy running. These workout tend to leave you more sore and tight compared to regular easy days so make sure you have a cool down routine such as the Myrtl routine as part of what you do post workout. So here is an example:
Runner that can run a 17:30 5K would look at training pace calculator and see that for Vo2Max he/she should be running at 5:27 pace for the 1K repeats. If you look below the chart you will see that 5:27 pace translate to hitting about a 3:24 per 1K rep. So here it is:
2 mile warmup
5x1K @Vo2Max (3:24 per 1K) with 3:30 recovery of slow jogging for a 400 meter lap in between each one
2 mile cool down
Best of luck and go chase your running dreams!
Coach Rojas has 11 combined years of coaching experience at various levels including coaching a high school D1 State finalist team and 3 years in a row of a top 10 state ranking. He is passionate of the sport of running and loves to see new runners take up the sport! He wants to share a lifetime of running experience to all