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Learning How To Run Workouts By Feel

  • By Jeff Gaudette
  • Published Oct. 14, 2013
Use the talk test during various workouts to gauge whether or not you're running at the right effort level.

VO2 Max Workouts

VO2max workouts, or classic “speed” workouts, are many a runner’s favorite training day because they’re allowed to run hard and push their limits. However, it’s still important for you to learn what these paces feel like so you don’t start a session of 12 x 400 meters too fast and fall off pace during the final few intervals, or even finish the workout at all. From a pacing perspective, VO2max workouts are completed at 5K pace or faster.

What are the training benefits of a Vo2max workout?

In simple terms, VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can utilize during exercise. It’s a combination of how much oxygen-rich blood your heart can pump and the muscles’ efficiency in extracting and utilizing the oxygen.

Training at VO2max pace increases the amount of oxygen your body can use, and the more oxygen you can use, the faster you can run. In addition, since VO2max workouts are much faster than most every other workout, they force you to run more efficiently and with better form. Developing a proper feel for VO2 max work will enable you to push yourself further during speed sessions and complete workouts strong.

What does a VO2max workout feel like?

A VO2max workout will often feel close maximum effort. You should be breathing very hard and feel like you would only be able to keep running for another 100 meters or so after you finish your interval.

Typically, a VO2 max workout will require a very short breathing ratio to maximize the amount of oxygen to your lungs. Most runners use a 1:2 ratio (one step breathing in, two steps breathing out) or 2:1 ratio (two steps breathing in and one step breathing out) breathing rhythm. This will increase your oxygen uptake to 60 breaths per minute.

The Talk Test

The talk test for a VO2 max session is simple – when you start an interval you could blurt out a few words, but definitely not a full sentence. In the final half of your interval, you shouldn’t be able to talk at all.

While understanding training terminology is important, to translate these efforts appropriately to your training you need to appreciate what they feel like.

Learning to feel the proper pace of a given workout in training isn’t just a concept for beginners to master. Too many experienced runners neglect what their body is telling them and are driven by the numbers on their watch, which often results in overtraining and not getting the most bang for your buck from a workout. In addition, new and experienced runners alike can use the information about how a certain workout should feel to adjust their training for hot summer weather, hilly courses, and bad training days. Learn to listen to your body and train smarter this summer.

 

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Jeff Gaudette

Jeff Gaudette

Jeff has been running for 13 years, at all levels of the sport. He was a two time Division-I All-American in Cross Country while at Brown University and competed professionally for 4 years after college for the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. Jeff's writing has been featured in Running Times magazine, Endurance Magazine, as well as numerous local magazine fitness columns.

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