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Vo2 Max for Runners and Athletes
Improve your oxygen uptake to maintain performance

Use this guide to improving and calculating your uptake

Factors affecting your Vo2 Max

The limitations that restrict the rate at which energy can be released aerobically are dependent upon:

The ability of the muscular cellular tissue system to use oxygen in breaking down fuels.
The combined ability of cardiovascular and pulmonary systems to transport the oxygen to the muscular  system.

How to improve your Vo2 max

These are examples of workouts which may improve your  Vo2. max

1 5 x 1500m @ 4 secs slower per 400m than your best mile time. 3min rest
2 Repeat x 3,  400 ( 30secs rest) 800 (30secs rest) 400 (30secs rest) @ mile race pace
3 5 x 1km 8 secs slower per 400, than best mile time.
4 Run at maximum effort for 5 minutes. Rest for five minutes. Run the distance again 10% slower with 90 seconds rest. Repeat until target time is not possible
5 400m 4 secs faster than best mile, 70secs rest, repeat until target time is not possible


When and how often

The ideal Vo2 Max for runners is >75ml/kg/minute

This depends upon the length of run you are training for. However we suggest that in the winter sessions (1) and (2) are done twice a week, and in the track season sessions (3), (4) and (5) are done weekly. I personally do as much speedwork in winter as in summer but this does not suit everyone.

If you are a middle distance runner racing weekly, you may find that during the summer this extra work is unnecessary. If you are a marathon runner or are running distances further than 5k you should be completing two of these sessions each week, except the weeks when you are racing.

The maximum duration efforts are in themselves quality sessions. If the pulse rate has not recovered to 120 beats per minute in the rest times given, the recovery period should be extended before the repetitions are started. The recovery times between the reps should be strictly adhered to.

These workouts make a refreshing change from repetition running.

Vo2 max Tests

This table may be used with experienced senior athletes for a distance.

Gender Excellent Average+ Average Average- Poor
Male 3700+ 3400 - 3700 3100 - 3339 2800 - 3099 2800 or less
Female 3000+ 2700 - 3000 2400 - 2999 2100 - 2399 2100 or less

Read our Running Programme for Beginners...

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