Key Run Sessions for Triathletes - part 3. Aerobic capacity or Vo2 training by Dave Green

Posted On : 09/06/2016


This type of training is performed, primarily through running 2 – 5 minute repetitions at 90 – 100% of your individual Vo2 max.

Vo2 max, can be held for around 10 minutes in well trained runners when running full out, so in general its between 2km and 3 km race pace .

Actual Vo2 pace, as defined in Jack Daniels pace charts IS THE EXACT PACE NECESSARY for OPTIMUM development of maximum oxygen uptake by the muscles. In my opinion an accuracy of Vo2 pace plus  TWO SECONDS for each 400m run, is the tight tolerance needed to gain full benefit from this type of work, so as you see, pacing is critical, as trying to run sessions too fast, yes some athletes will always aim to go faster than you ask them to run,  or possibly setting off too slow will not reap full benefit. Therefore I always prefer this type of work to be done on a running track or accurately measured stretch of road and I prefer to use pace on these as heart rate is unreliable and lags behind at this intensity. So if your Vo2 pace was 90 seconds per 400m, your tolerance would be maintaining  90 – 92 seconds  for every full 400m covered.

Even though this stuff is quick, around or faster than 5km stand alone race pace, it is still primarily aerobic work, and is the fastest of the aerobic paces.

Benefits include:-

Increased ability of working muscles to use glycolytic and oxidative enzymes.

Increased blood buffering capacity.

Continued activation of fast twitch muscle fibres.

Pace awareness.

Sessions should be constructed using a total volume of between 12 and 20 minutes worth of actual hard work, not counting recovery time, which should be equal to, or when very fit, down to 50% of actual running time. I feel this works better for triathletes.

ie:- 5 x 4 minutes at Vo2, with 4 minute jog or walk recovery, and over time reducing recovery down to possibly 2 minutes walk or jog.

Progression on running pace times should come from race results , a 5km race is ideal, or specific testing, and NOT from trying to blast the session out harder!

This type of running is hard on the body and should be implemented sparingly and with consideration of other work done in the pool and on the bike.