Sunday, 24 November 2013

Week of training Sunday November 17th - Saturday November 23rd + some VO2 max training thoughts and questions.

Hey guys,

Well, that's one more week in the books. I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has stopped by to read this blog and leave comments and feedback. I was overwhelmed with the support and amount of views I've been getting so thank you so much. (Thank you to NLrunning as well)

I'll chat briefly about some questions and thoughts I have about training the VO2 max energy system all year as well as break down last weeks training.

VO2 max training all year long? Smart for development or playing with fire?

First off lets define what VO2 max really is, 

According to Wikipedia -  VO2 max (also maximal oxygen consumption, maximal oxygen uptake, peak oxygen uptake or maximal aerobic capacity) is the maximum capacity of an individuals body to transport and use oxygen during incremental exercise, which reflects the physical fitness of the individual. The name is derived from V - volume, O2 - oxygen, max - maximum.
VO2 max is expressed either as an absolute rate in litres of oxygen per minute (L/min) or as a relative rate in millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of bodyweight per minute (i.e., mL/(kg·min)). The latter expression is often used to compare the performance of endurance sports athletes.

So without going to in depth in the science department, VO2 max is the key energy system that fuels our aerobic power. And running is an aerobic activity. But when training to increase or improve our VO2 system should we only target it during a specific training cycle? Or at a given time during the preparation for a goal race? We see allot of the top running coaches when putting together a training program to prepare and athlete for a "championship race" or season most will use periodization in their approach. A typical training plan for a runner training for events like the 3000m - 10000m will start with a base period, then a strength period, typically followed by a sharpening period and finally the championship racing period. Where the athlete is peaking for goal races.

When we look at the different types of training we know that VO2 is by far the most difficult and is supposed to be the most stressful. We hear top coaches such as Dr. Jack Daniels talking about how these bouts of VO2 training should be the only ones that feel hard. Rep paced running should feel "fast", threshold running should feel comfortably hard but VO2 should feel hard. Personally I find this training the most strenuous and takes me the longest to recover from. I generally do repeats of distances between 800m - 1 mile, with the goal of running them about 3000m race pace and taking half the time it took to run the interval in recovery. Needless to say when you start increasing the volume of these sessions to 5-6 miles of work, your really taxing the body and burn out can occur. So my question is, can we run these types of workouts year round to try and improve this crucial energy system, and maybe back off the frequency or volume during our less important training cycles? Or should we stick with the idea of periodization and only incorporate it when its time to build aerobic power at that given time in our season? How do you guys approach this? Do you do strait VO2 sessions? Mixed workouts? Let me know what works for you and what your thoughts are. I'm curious to know what works for different people!

This week in training.

This week was successful for sure. I was solo for 85 percent of my runs so it was mentally tough getting after workouts and a long run with the weather getting colder and the wind. But its this work and dedication that will hopefully help me gain lots of fitness in the next 5-6 months. Hopefully I will be able to get out with the speedy Adam Snow when his training resumes (5km specialist and real fastwitch runner).


9 miles - AM
10 miles - PM


Workout - 16 X 400m @ Rep Pace. This is a standard repetition workout. I did it on the Tupper loop by my house as I didn't want to head all the way to the track. I took full recoveries of 2:00/rep. Enough time to jog back to the start of the 400m. I started them at 71 seconds for the first 4, and tried to work down the pace each subsequent 4. The last 4 averaged 65 which is good for this time of the year. The workout average was around 68 seconds.

12 miles with workout - AM
6 miles - PM


10 miles - AM
10 miles - PM


Workout - 3 X 10 minutes with 4 minutes active recovery. This went well, I started very conservative and did the first rep at 5:21 pace, the second was a bit faster at 5:08 pace, then for the last rep I ran myself into the ground and just hung on the last 3 minutes and averaged 5:00/mile pace. This was encouraging, though I wonder if the slow first rep was smart. Perhaps all of them run at goal 10km pace would have been smarter. (Done on Tupper loop).

11 miles with workout - AM
5 miles - PM


8 miles - AM
8 miles - PM


11 miles - AM
9 miles - PM


Long Run - 20 miles @ 7:00 pace average. Unfortunately this was done solo and it was a grind. I left my house and went down around quidi vidi lake for 4 laps then added some miles at the end. It was a decent run though. I started running the first 10 miles really easy about 7:30 pace then ran the last 10 in the 6:20-6:30 range. I find the last 3-4 miles of these runs are brutal. I need to work on my strength if I want to be running good times over 10 miles and the half marathon distance so I hope this is helping.

20 miles - AM
Off - PM

129 miles total on the week.


I'm pretty happy with this week. It wasn't out of this world or anything but there was 3 good days of quality running. Just keeping this going is all that needs to happen. I'd like to run about 5 miles more per week but it was nothing to complain about. On a side note I didn't get a chance to wear the Saucony Cortanas this week as I'm still waiting on a shipment of winter gear and shoes but I'll for sure wear them as soon as they come and give everyone my thoughts.

That's all for this post, back to the grind,
Run happy


  1. Another great week in terms of milage . I don't understand the benefit of doing 400's at this time of year...very Zatopek like. it's a long winter .conserve you energy and put no pressure on yourself. Running is hard enough without making it harder. Have fun and find satisfaction in every run. Only go hard when so inclined.
    Max V02 is as you defined the greatest amount of oxygen that a runner can achieve . It is measured in mls/kg. As a result weight lose leads to an increase in Vo2 max. It is interesting to note that Vo2 max is measured as a protocol on treadmill and that a runner can achieve a higher than measured vo2 max while doing long reps. this occurs despite a lower lactate level in the blood.. No doubt it is developed best by the procedure recommended by the Swedish physiologist Astrand by reps of from 3-5 min at 3 to 5k pace. I have run a marathon on as little as three weeks of such training and achieved an excellent result despite having only one depletion run the week prior to the race. Always mix brains with your training. Mike

    1. Mike, thanks so much for the information. Your an ocean of knowledge. You are no doubt right about the 400's afterwards I felt really banged up and tired. I should have done some hills I think. The idea of doing them was to work on my efficiency, I was trying to run them controlled and holding good form, but once they got into the 67-63 second range the last 6-8 I think I was loosing track of the goal of my workout.

      Vo2 max testing is very interesting stuff, I had a couple done last year in the lab and noticed that when I was 2-3 pounds lighter I was having better test results. The protocol used on me is the standard one of starting at something like 7-8 km/hour then increasing by a certain increment every 2 minutes until you can't run anymore, then I was given 5 minutes rest and put back on at a little faster then the maximum velocity I hit when I stopped and stayed there as long as possible.

      I really appreciate the comments tho Mike, your clearly a very knowledgeable guy when it comes to this stuff.

      Have you read much Arthur Lydiard? I ask as I'm keen to try a purely Lydiard training block but I'm unsure of how hard to be running normal everyday runs. As well as how hard to be running the longer and long runs. It seems like it would need to be pretty solid effort running the majority of the time and mostly running all the volume in single runs.

      Thanks again

    2. I was a strong advocate of Lydiard but found his method hard to implement in our climate, His time trials are a form of lactate training. Mst people forget his power training for six weeks on the hills and his 6 weeks anaerobic training and 4 weeks sharpening.
      Vo2 max is so related to body mass. Lets assume that you have a vo2 max of 4200ml/min and weigh 70 kilos .,..this gives you a max of 60mlper kilogram. If this same runner loses 10 kilos and now has a mass of 60 kilos his max vo2 increases to 70 ml per kilogram. He goes from a 17:30 run to 15:30. Massive improvement. I think some of the major benefit of distance is that it eventually lowers the runners mass. When I was really fit I weighed 130 lbs at 5ft 9 ".
      I didn't figure out how to train until I was 40 . I was only ever able to go above 100miles for about6-8 weeks a a time. I admire your tenacity. Send me your email and I will send you a copy of a typical training week from 1991.

    3. I'm really interested in Lydiard. Like I agree with you 100% in our climate its hard to do, and I wonder about some of his ideas about downhill running as well, like the theory sounds sound but finding the right grade and executing is a different story. I would just love to follow it from start to finish for 1 segment you know.

      And your spot on about VO2 its so dependent on our weight but I also wonder if that caries over in the real world. Lets use your 17:30 5km runner who looses 10 kilos (22.2 pounds if I'm not mistaken so that is allot) but can a guy who normally runs 5:40/mile pace for a 5km be able to hold 4:58/mile just because of the weight loss alone? Like scientifically it should happen, but I remember even the difference in pace needed from running 16:10 for 5km to the pace that was needed to run in the 15:40's. Its allot. Does that make any sense?

      I think most runners today even people who do the marathon don't fully appreciate the benefits of high mileage. If they could see the mileage some top level 1500m are running it would amaze them.

      I'm about 145 and 6ft1" but I could get down to 138ish if I dialed in the nutrition, its just so hard doing that when your running the volume I am, I worry I'll over train if I'm at all in a caloric deficit.

      my email is I would love to get a look at some of your training. You must follow the sport really close as well I'm guessing? Do you watch allot of track? I love all distances from the 800 to the Marathon. Actually I'm watching Kenny Bekele's 12:37 from 2004 in hangelo right now, he split 3000m in 7:37.08.....unreal.