VO2 Max | What Any Marathon Runner Needs to Know

V02 Max


This word has been thrown around A LOT in the running and endurance world. Although it is great for measuring cardiovascular fitness and for measuring the amount of oxygen your body can use as energy, it is not necessarily the best way to determine the athleticism of you as an endurance athlete.




Let me break it down.


The acronym V02 Max stands for volume, oxygen and maximum. SO, the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use during aerobic exercise while using oxygen as energy will most likely be pretty darn accurate while determining your V02 Max.


Being able to use a higher percentage of your V02 max on your Marathon race day for example should be the ultimate goal for any endurance runner. Think: cardiac output (pulmonary system / veins - the amount of oxygen your body has after blood is distributed throughout your body's muscle). V02 Max my friend. There you have it!


Lactate Threshold


To be the most efficient endurance runner (or athlete) that you can be, training your lactate threshold to a point where you can sustain a higher percentage of that LT within your V02 max will make you a faster, more efficient athlete by being able to endure a higher-intensity of exercise, or higher-intensity of running for a longer period of time.


You can simply improve your threshold by incorporating HIIT workouts into your training program, or by working out at a higher intensity during harder running intervals during a running workout. For example, 400 meters all out alternating those repeats with 400 meters of recovery jogs on a track could be the most straight forward way that comes to mind while trying to boost your V02 max.


In terms of lactate threshold, running longer distances that are sustainable for a longer amount of time and for a further distance, such as 800 meter repeats, or mile repeats while giving yourself the same amount of recovery time between each repeat is a great way to train your lactate threshold and also a great way to increase the percentage of your V02 max that you can sustain that threshold at for a longer duration of time while you're racing.


Training for a Marathon and training your lactate threshold to be a more efficient runner at any level could be most optimal. Why? Well, lactate threshold produces sub maximal fitness aka how long you can maintain an aerobically challenging pace for a certain duration of time. By this, I mean holding that pace without tapping into your anaerobic threshold, which ultimately causes fatigue. Take note!


One training tip you might find useful for your next race could be trying to focus more on training your body to a point where you are able to use a higher percentage of your V02 max sustainably on race day!


You can do this by training your body to boost the percentage of your lactate threshold within your V02 max that you can hold for a longer period of time while you are RUNNING!


It's freakin' hard, but doable if you stick with it! It takes time, but time is fortunately on our side right now. Why not try it out?!


3 Tips To Help Get You Back On Track


  1. Devise a Training Program with at least one (or two) workouts a week to train your lactate threshold! You can use the example I used above with the 800M repeats, or mile repeats. Take a 5K time trial, or run 3-4 miles hovering 85% of your max HR to get your threshold pace. I get help from my Coach as guidance for my own training, but default to Jack Daniels' VDOT Calculator for my runners. It's genius!

  2. Find a way to time block your day so you can hold yourself accountable to fit your training runs in as necessary! My Google Calendar is my saving grace. Full transparency!

  3. Join a Virtual Run Club on Strava to engage with other runners in the running community to gain advice from, to learn from and to help push you towards your personal running goals. The energy and support in times like now goes a LONG way. Try it out.


It's time to set that new goal and get after it.


Yes, you CAN!


Coach Alli


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