Marathon Training for Simpletons Part IV - High VO2 max

Nothing to do with shampoo

So far in this highly scientific mini-series on the building blocks of marathon training we've looked at lactate threshold and running economy. Now, we turn our short-spanned attention to VO2 max.

First up, let me point out that that "2" should be hanging below the "O" in the same way it does for water - H2O. I just don't know how to do that here, so you'll have to just deal with it.

Secondly, the "V" should also have a dot above it as it stands for volume per time, or something.

It' science, so just trust me, ok?

Now, scientific shorthand aside, this one's widely seen as the most important factor of cardiovascular fitness. So what, in the name of all that is holy, is it?

Keeping in mind the mental capacity for the average reader of this blog (I have low targets, so apologies if you're an astrophysicist or something), I'll try to use only short words.

Simple put, it's the ability to send lots of oxygen to your muscles, and how much of this the muscles can use. The larger the better for this as you need the oxygen to keep the muscles going.

This is another one that's largely determined genetically, but we short-cutters need not lose heart.

One of the factors that determine VO2 max level is the how much blood you can pump to your muscles, which depends on the strength of your hearbeat.

You can improve this by running at almost your current VO2 max level, for a decent distance a few times in one session. To work out how fast this is, look at the time it'd take to race about 5k times (about three and a half miles), and run at about 95 per cent of that pace.

I've worked this into my training with VO2 sessions where I'll do several "bursts" at this pace over between 600 and 1,000m.

They sound horrific, but in the name of science, I'll give them a go. They should help and will provide a bit of variety, which I guess is worth it.