Vo2Max for Runners: What You Need to Know
As a runner, you’ve probably heard the term “VO2max” at some point. Perhaps you read about it on a running blog, or in a magazine. You may have questions like,
What is my V02max? What is a Vo2max test? Can I improve my V02max?
As a coach, I often receive questions like these when talking with an athlete about ways to improve their training – specifically about getting their V02max tested. Here is a quick definition of terms, and some advice.
What is VO2Max for Runners?
According to the journal of Sports Medicine this is defined as the maximum oxygen that an individual can utilize during an all out exercise effort. This is consider one of the best tests to measure an athlete’s aerobic endurance.
What is a V02max Test?
This is the test that is used to determine an athlete’s V02max. This can be done on either a treadmill or bike. Since most of you reading this article are runners, your best bet is to have this test done on a treadmill.
The protocol for the Vo2max for runners test will take an athlete from an easy jog and slowly ramp up the pace of the treadmill, until the athlete is unable to run any further or their heart rate plateaus. During the test a machine will be measuring the amount of oxygen that you are inhaling, and the amount of Co2 that you are exhaling. In addition a heart rate monitor will be measuring your heart rate during the entire test.
Can you Improve your Vo2max?
Yes, this can be improved! The more you run and train the better your V02max becomes.
Some of the best workouts that can help to improve your V02max are longer high intensity intervals. A great example of this type of workout would be 6x800m at your goal 10k pace or 85-95% of your max heart rate with 2 minute recovery. This type of workout is design to increase your Vo2max, by getting you close to your max heart rate.
How, is this Useful to my Overall Training?
Some of the best information that comes from a V02max test, is your max heart rate and your specific training zones. Training zones are a set range of your heart rate that an athlete should maintain during a given workout. Often times these zones are split up into 5 different training ranges. Zone 5 being the hardest effort and Zone 1 being the easiest.
With all this information in hand you are now able to determine what heart rate you should be at during a given workout. It helps you know how hard those workouts should be, and how easy your easy running days should be.
For a coach this really takes all the guess work out of trying to figure out an athletes current fitness level, as well as their training paces and heart rate zones. This will allow you to get the most out of the training that you are doing.
Have you gotten your VO2Max tested? How have you found it to be helpful? If you’re interested in getting your VO2max testing, contact me for more information.