running training plan

Predicting VO2MAX

Why would anyone want to know their VO2MAX?
As runners, most of us are interested (some even obsessed), by their own ability. We can all run races and log times to get an idea, but why the fascination with VO2MAX?

VO2MAX is a fundamental measure of fitness. It represents the amount of oxygen the body can utilise to produce energy and is measured in ml/kg/min — millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute. As exercise intensity rises, so does oxygen consumption, and everyone has a limit. Once that limit is reached, the body can no longer rely on oxygen for all it's energy needs and calls on the anaerobic system (anaerobic = without oxygen). As most of us know running anaerobically is going to be a short-term activity, the anaerobic energy system is really an emergency system, designed to get us out of trouble quickly.
As a guide, a typical 400m race will be run about 75% anaerobic, 25% aerobic, and a marathon 1% anaerobic, 99% aerobic; although there is a huge difference in distance, both races will exhaust the athlete.

From this we can see that, as endurance runners, we really don't want to be delving into our anaerobic system too much if we want to maintain our distance running pace. But how do we know what our VO2MAX is?

The lab is the place to get an accurate assessment, but it can be very costly, and we can get a useful estimate from the result of a recent race.

Use the calculator below to check yours.

VO2MAX prediction from race performance

Distance in km

Time in hrs:mins:secs
: :

Insert zero in blank cells

Your estimated VO2MAX is:



Remember, this is just an estimate of your VO2MAX, a full lab assessment will give a definitive figure, but it will allow you to keep tabs on how your own fitness fluctuates and responds to training.

VO2MAX is not the only predictor of race performance; there are other factors such as running economy and resistance to fatigue that all contribute to a runner's potential. It is, however, a very useful measurement in determining fitness.

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