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Doing Running Right: Meet Your Max

By Carlos Nunes

VO2max is the maximum amount of oxygen your muscles can extract from your blood in a given amount of time. Your velocity VO2max (vVO2max) is the running speed at which you reach your VO2max. When you train at this level, your heart and skeletal muscles work at full capacity in an attempt to utilise the oxygen and maintain the workload. As a result, your fitness improves.

According to French researchers, vVO2max can be estimated as the speed a runner can maintain for an all-out six-minute time trial. Therefore, to determine your vVO2max, go to a 400m track, warm up thoroughly, then run as hard and evenly as you can for six minutes. The pace you maintain for those six minutes is your vVO2max.

The Results The average runner in the study was able to run 19 fast fartleks at vVO2max pace before exhaustion. That’s nearly 10 minutes of very hard running. But these runners received an additional boost because they remained at their VO2max during part of their recovery jogs. The bottom line is that the longer you can train at or near your VO2max, the greater your physiological gains.

When the French researchers expanded their study to include physical education students, they found that the students improved their VO2max by 10 per cent after just 10 weeks of running the 30-30 session twice a week. This could translate into huge performance gains in training and racing.

So give these 30-30s a try. As you become stronger and fitter, you can increase your sessions to 60-60s to improve your performance even more.

30-30 Basics • Warm up with 15 minutes of easy running • Stretch lightly for a few minutes • Run 30 seconds hard (a fast pace you can maintain for only six minutes) • Run 30 seconds easy (at about half the previous speed – to cover half the previous distance) • Repeat the 30 hard, 30 easy sets 15-20 times • Cool down with 5-10 minutes easy running • Helpful hint: set your watch to beep every 30 seconds (or find a friend with a watch and a whistle

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