Defined simply, VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen the body can utilize during exercise. Training at VO2 max increases this limit, allowing you to have a quicker leg turnover and improve your top speed. In addition, speed workouts increase leg muscle strength and power, which reduces how much energy it takes to run at a certain speed, also known as improving your “economy.”
Why running speed workouts too fast is detrimental:
During VO2 max workouts and speed work, you’re asking your body to push its limits. When running near your top speed, the likelihood of injury is increased since muscles are being contracted to their max while under duress. Your training schedule will assign workouts that hit your VO2 max to develop speed, but keep you from going over the red line. Keeping your speed workouts within the given pace range will reduce the risk of injury and allow you to string together consistent training.
A well-written training plan is an intricate puzzle that pieces together different types of workouts. It maximizes the available time to prepare an athlete to have his or her best performance on race day. Running faster than prescribed paces may seem as if it’s advancing your fitness, but you are actually limiting your progress and increasing the likelihood of getting injured. Before you step out the door on your next run, think to yourself, “What is the purpose of my run today?” This will ensure you stay on course and give you the confidence you need to execute a plan as it’s prescribed, even if it means obeying the speed limit.