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The thought of “mobility training” is often thought of as a real waste of a good run day…

If for example, you struggle to just stand on one foot, these minuscule imbalances can accumulate during the thousands of repetitions on a normal run and increase your likelihood of getting those tight quads, hamstrings, and those niggly problem areas as well as increase your chances of gaining a serious injury and decrease your energy efficiency.

Usually, to counteract this, we add stretching and strength training to our routines – fantastic! But many of us still end up with aches and pains. 

If this sounds familiar, we’re about to transform your running forever… with just two words… MOBILITY WORK.

Mobility Defined

Mobility is a term used to describe something’s ability to move and refers to the way your joints move inside their socket. 

In essence, it is the ability to move your joints freely with the surrounding tissues allowing the movement to happen smoothly.

Mobility isn’t the same as flexibility, though it is close. Mobility incorporates flexibility and strength training.

A good way of understanding the difference between mobility and flexibility is to do this…

Make slow windmills/circles with any of your arms, and think about the way your shoulder is moving. Flexibility refers to the ability to lengthen a muscle in a stretch. Mobility refers to the range of motion of your joints, in this case, in your shoulder.

Why We All Need Mobility

According to the National Insitute on Aging (NIA), maintaining mobility and preventing disability are key to living independently as we age.

When people become less active, their muscles tighten, flexibility diminishes, and range of motion decreases.

Some joints are meant to be stable, while other joints in the body are meant to be more mobile. 

A lack of adequate mobility in those joints can create imbalances that will probably result in compensated movements and increased risk of injury… for everyone and anyone not practicing mobility work.

Why Mobility Is SO Important For Runners

Mobility is absolutely vital to how well you run. 

If you have tightness and poor mobility rather around your joints, it affects the quality of your stride, it also affects the power that you’re able to put into each of those strides. 

By having a mobility limitation you are risking: How well you run & how fast you run. 

By not doing mobility work you are increasing your risk of injury and it becomes more crucial as you age.

It’s very important for us ALL to be doing regular mobility work to keep ourselves in our stride and our running performance as optimal as possible.

Does Mobility Make You Run Faster?

Yes!

Including mobility work in your training plan will improve your running performance and decrease your risk for injuries, resulting in the possibility of improving your running speed.

Think about it, If your muscles and joints are able to move through the entire range of motion required with each stride, you will run efficiently, you’ll run fast and you’ll decrease your risk of injury. (I know we keep on repeating this, but it’s just incredible!)

All you need to do is have good mobility through your feet and ankles, knees, hips, and spine.

Now that you know why mobility is so important, let’s dive into how often you should be doing the mobility work…

How Often You Should Include Mobility In Your Training

We always hear runners saying…” I’m not stretching after my run” or “ I’m not getting my flexibility in every day.”

This is where mobility and flexibility are probably the same…Mobility every day would be so beneficial to your running. 

Here at Coach Parry, we are massive advocates of strength training, and two to three strength sessions a week is probably ideal depending on your age and your ability. 

With mobility, it’s not a case where less is more… it’s a case of more is more!

A lot of people often go … okay, well, this is yet another thing I now have to fit into my schedule… How on earth am I going to fit this in too?

Mobility work is something you can do as you wake up first thing in the morning, it’s quite a nice way to get yourself going for the day or before your run.

Let’s look at some of the areas that we should be focusing on from a mobility perspective.

Where Runners Should Be Focusing

Two of the main problem areas we tend to find in runners are poor ankle mobility, as well as poor hip mobility. 

That’s not to neglect any upper body work. A really big focus that we like to incorporate is upper body or shoulder mobility rather, which will also have an effect on your running posture and how you keep yourself upright. 

More often than not, we all work jobs that are stuck behind a desk, we might be slouched over quite a lot, and that all transfers into how tight we are and how immobile we are in our running posture.

If we look at lower limb and hip mobility as an example: You may have experienced a bit of knee pain in the past and what surprises people to find out is that more often than not… that pain is a referred pain from higher up in the chain. 

The biggest problem experienced is poor hip mobility. If your hip flexors are tight, if your hips are immobile, what that’s doing is it creates a misalignment in how your muscles are contracting or pulling in one direction, and how your patella or your kneecap tracks in its groove.

So all of those aspects often come from one simple problem… hip mobility. If you can solve your hip mobility problems, you can get rid of your knee pain, unless it’s more of a trauma-focused type of knee pain. 

Now that you know that mobility is one of those things that are going to impact your running. 

We have put together a mobility flow series just for you!

Click Here For FREE Mobility Flow Series

10 Benefits Of Mobility Training

  1. Improved joint range of motion.
  2. Improved circulation.
  3. Decreased risk of injury.
  4. These exercises can actually be a warm-up for your regular workout routine.
  5. Reduced muscle tension and soreness.
  6. They will add variety and change to your regular workout routine and help keep you motivated.
  7. Improved posture.
  8. Improved movement efficiency.
  9. These exercises tend to have a calming feeling & can help you release stress.
  10. Mobility training can help keep problems like back ache and knee pain away.

Spring or fall normally wins the honor of being everyone’s favorite season to train in… but trust us when we say that summer does have a lot going for it.

Research shows that running in the heat can help us prepare for races that take place in hot weather, even better, running in high temperatures can lead to improved overall fitness.

The key is to know how to train safely in the heat, which is exactly what we’re going to teach you in this article.

Is It Ok To Run In Hot Weather?

There is the possibility of serious health consequences to exercising in the heat and humidity, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. But these can be avoided if you listen to your body and take sensible precautions…

Yes, running in hot weather does present several risks but it is okay to run in hot weather if you drink enough fluids to stay hydrated, avoid running at the hottest times in the day (between 11 am and 3 pm), wear breathable clothing, and by slowing down your normal pace.

Let’s have a look at how you can run in the heat and not get too affected by the hot conditions…

How To Run In Hot Weather

We’ve all had that situation where we’ve been training for a race or an event and we’ve been training at home or wherever we live, and then arrive at the event and it’s a good a few degrees hotter than what we’re used to…

For example, say it’s a bit more humid, and you end up struggling on race day. The good news is there is a way to mitigate that.

What makes running in hot conditions so challenging?

Very simply, our bodies struggle once they get too hot to function, because the proteins that we rely heavily on in terms of the integrity and structure of our cells, and some of the functioning of our cells, start to degrade when it gets too hot.

Temperature and altitude are the two biggest hindrances to performance.

Once you get into a very hot environment, your body starts to struggle to get rid of the heat… 

Remember when we are exercising, we are like little engines. So think of yourself as a steam train. The more energy you need, the hotter that furnace is going to burn. Then you need to get rid of that heat.

If you cannot get rid of the heat, we call it down-regulating your body will force you to, it sends out a signal and you will start to feel bad, this is because your body is trying to slow down the intensity so it can ‘turn the stove down.

If your body doesn’t ‘turn the stove down’, you stand the chance of experiencing physiological stress, which is very dangerous.

You want to be able to manage this process…

We can do several things to regulate our temperature while running in hot environments:

  1. The first part and the easiest part is to immediately do things to ourselves to keep cool. 

We do lose a lot of heat from our forehead and of course, when you’re exercising in a hot, humid environment, the first thing you should be doing is putting on a hat.

That hat protects you from the sun, right? 

The sun of course does its damage. So we would not suggest running without a hat, but you’re now blocking one of the very efficient places for your body to lose heat…

We recommend keeping your hat wet and cool so that it can still act as a conductor and you can lose heat at the top of your head.

  1. Keep your skin wet and cool.

If you do keep your skin wet with water and cold water, in particular, that is a really good way for your body to release heat.

If you’re exercising in a very hot but dry environment. It’s not nearly as severe because you could lose loads of heat from evaporative cooling.

This is when you need to run in very light clothing.

The best type of clothing for running in the heat is made from moisture-wicking material that quickly takes stuff to the surface and evaporates and when it evaporates there’s a lot of cooling that takes place.

In very hot, humid environments that doesn’t happen. This is when using cool fluids becomes very important to regularly douse yourself with.

There are some garments on the market at the moment. The one that I’ve personally experimented with is E-Cooline, but there are a couple.

What they have done with those garments, is they have bandanas, caps, arm sleeves and a T-shirt, they are like shirts essentially but they are a little bit thicker and they have a substance that when it becomes wet, a chemical reaction forms, which causes that suit to cool down.

  1. Losing heat through your neck is also an extremely effective way.

If you have a buff on you, you can keep it wet and cold. 

If you’re in extremely hot conditions, you can take a pair of stockings, and put blocks of ice inside the stockings to hang around your neck. It will slowly melt and drip down your t-shirt.

  1. We can also prepare our bodies to cope better with the heat.

In two ways essentially:

  1. Exercise in heat.

This will cause adaptations that teach our body to cool much more efficiently in those types of conditions.

You can do this by running in the middle of the day or during the hottest part of the day.

Please use suntan lotion, and wear a cap and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.

Or, you can hop on a treadmill and train in a very heated room.

If none of the above work for you you could even get into a sauna. This would work if you spend between 10 and 30 minutes, for two sessions a week.

Those two sessions a week will cause a lot of physiological changes that will make you far better able to cope with exercising and racing in hot and humid environments.

Let’s see how long that adaptation would take?

Imagine you were doing a goal race that was in a climate a lot hotter than you are used to. It’s very similar to trying to adapt to altitude.

Essentially, when you move to altitude, once you’ve been there for six hours you’re more adapted than you were when you arrived.

When you’ve been there 12 hours, so on and so forth until probably seven to 10 days you get full adaptation.

For the race, you should go to the location about 10 days before the race and you’ll undergo quite a lot of adaptation. That said, sauna sessions will make the same adaptations.

We understand that it’s not always practical to get to a destination race 10 days before, that is why prepping accordingly beforehand becomes that much more important.

How To Deal With The Heat During The Comrades Marathon

You want to keep your body temperature down. There are loads of water tables along the Comrades Marathon route. 

Most of the water sachets stay in big baths with ice. So I would advise you to keep your body temperature down by keeping yourself wet pretty much the whole way. Take every opportunity you can to put ice on your skin. It is your skin temperature that you want to control.

Runners from up north are at an enormous disadvantage and truthfully there is not a massive amount you can do other than doing some heat acclimatization by training in a hot, potentially humid environment. 

Most importantly though is to manage yourself on race day and of course if you keep dousing yourself with water, blistering is going to be a potential issue on your feet. So you’ll want to put some added protection around your feet like plasters or Vaseline.

Benefits Of Running In Heat & Humidity

It has been proven that training in the heat (with the correct safety precautions taken) can increase your blood plasma volume (which leads to better cardiovascular fitness), reduce your overall core temperature, reduce blood lactate, and increase your skeletal muscle force.

This will all have a massive positive impact on your training in colder conditions.

According to Santiago Lorenzo, a professor of physiology at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and a former decathlete at the University of Oregon. Heat training not only does a better job at increasing V02 max than altitude, but it also makes athletes better at withstanding a wider range of temperatures.

Running in heat and humidity is the same as training at altitude. This is because running in hot weather puts stress on your cardiovascular system making your heart stronger. It also decreases blood flow to muscles because the blood is going to your skin instead, making training similar to that in high elevations.

Dangers Of Running In Hot Weather

Running in hot weather can pose dangers to runners…

  1. Dehydration

While running, your body loses fluids through sweat. If you don’t replace those fluids by drinking water or other liquids, you can become dehydrated.

In hot conditions, we do need to add some electrolytes or even a pinch of salt to our water, to ensure we absorb that water better, otherwise, it just sweats right through us. 

Also, higher sweat rates require higher fluid intake

  1. Heat Cramps

These are painful, involuntary muscle spasms that usually occur during heavy exercise in hot environments.

  1. Heat Exhaustion

This is a very serious condition that can lead to heatstroke.
The symptoms of heat exhaustion are:

  • Dizziness
  • “Goosebumps” (particularly on the torso and arms)
  • Nausea (sometimes accompanied by vomiting)
  • Moderate to severe headache
  • Weak legs
  • Lack of coordination
  • Rapid pulse
  1. Heatstroke

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body can no longer control its temperature. The body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down.

  1. Hyponatremia

This occurs when the level of sodium in the blood is too low.

With this condition, the body holds onto too much water. This dilutes the amount of sodium in the blood and causes levels to be low.

Now that we know the risks that come with running in heat and humidity, let’s see how we can avoid those risks and run safely…

Tips For Running In Heat & Humidity

  • Avoid dehydration: You can lose between 6 and 12 oz. of fluid for every 20 minutes of running, especially when it’s hot.
  • Prehydrate: Drink 10–15 oz. of water 10 to 15 minutes before running, and drink water every 20–30 minutes during your run. 
  • Add some electrolytes or even a pinch of salt to your water, to ensure that you absorb the water better.
  • Try the trails: When the temperatures rise, asphalt and concrete absorb heat and radiate it back into your face. Trail running usually offers shade from trees
  • Carry water: Use water bottles, a hydration vest, or a fuel belt to carry water with you.
  • Take it easy: Take the weather conditions into account. Brutal heat and humidity mean that you should scale back your goals for the day.
  • Know the signs of heat illness & stroke and if you do not feel better, get home or call for help.
  • Splash yourself where possible: Use water to cool yourself.
  • Dress for the weather: Your running clothes, socks included, should be made of a wicking technical fiber, choose lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Wear a hat with a significant brim to keep the sun off your face. Wear a pair of lightweight sunglasses designed for sports activities.
  • Apply sunscreen. 

How many of you actually incorporate strength training into your running routine? 

If you just answered yes… fantastic! If not… don’t worry because we’re about to change that!

Strength training is extremely important for runners, for two main reasons. The first is for injury prevention, and the second is to improve your running performance and make you a faster and more efficient runner

Whether you know a thing or two about strength- training or have never thought of doing it before… many benefits come with it but there’s one that always seems to get noticed the most and it’s that strength training will improve your running.

On that note… let’s have a look at some other reasons why runners should include strength training into their routine.

Why Should Runners Strength Train?

Strength training is absolutely pivotal to include in your running plan. 

We know for a fact that runners know this,  yet they still don’t do it. 

We believe the reason for this to be is that they know it’s important, they just don’t know why strength training is so important. 

Why Strength Training Is So IMPORTANT

  1. Strength Training Helps With Injury Prevention

The reason strength training helps with injury prevention is that when your smaller muscle groups aren’t working,  the bigger muscles take over… So your body always ends up compensating somewhere

It’s your smaller muscle groups that are your stabilizers, they help your hips stay in place, and they help your foot and landing mechanics, this is why we need to ensure that those stabilizing muscles are working well and also contracting at the right time / recruited correctly.

When this doesn’t happen the foundation becomes unstable, misaligned, and abnormal movement patterns of the trunk and lower extremity occur. This can then lead to injury

Running is a repetitive sport and there is a constant repetitive action, which leads to your muscles getting tired and fatigued quite quickly, this stops your muscles from working in their normal function.

That’s the reason why from an injury prevention point of view it is extremely important to include strength training in your training plan. 

  1. Strength Training Improves Your Running Economy

Think of your running economy like the fuel economy of your car… We want to be able to go as far as possible with the most efficient amount of fuel.

By incorporating strength training in your running program you will be able to go further and be more efficient with less fuel in your body. 

Strength training can improve your running economy by 4% to 6%, depending on your level, how much strength training you are doing as well as the type of strength training you are doing. 

I mean, who wouldn’t want to become a better runner just by doing strength training?

FREE STRENGTH TRAINING PLAN HERE!

  1. Strength Training helps delay the onset of fatigue. 

A study was conducted on two groups of 10000m runners (1 control group and 1 strength group). 

There was a clear distinction between the runners who did strength training vs the control group who did no strength training. 

The group who did strength training fatigued way later than the control group.

Now that you know it’s SUPER necessary… Let’s have a look at some tips you can use to incorporate strength training into your routine.

10 Strength Training Tips For Runners

  1. No Time To Strength Train? No Problem…

We completely understand that life gets busy and some days are absolutely chaotic…

2-3 strength training sessions per week are ideal…

2 sessions are better than 1 and 1 is better than none. 

So I would rather have an athlete that does 1 strength session per week consistently than one who does 2 strength sessions inconsistent every 3 or 4 weeks.

The first thing runners tend to leave off of their to-do list to save some time is strength training and that’s a HUGE mistake to be making… That’s why we created this video for you.

In this video, sports scientist Devlin Eyden shares an insanely simple, 5 exercise routine that every busy runner should incorporate into their training.

(You can see the set and reps list in the pinned comment.)

  1. Periodization For Strength Training

Periodization is about your overall plan and how it pertains to every week or month.

Running is your main sport so this is about how strength training works in and around your overall running plan and specifically to your main goals for the year.

This is how you balance your weeks, months, and overall year. 

  1. Why You Should Periodize Your Strength Training

Much like you would with your running… where you periodize your running over a period of time, where you lay the building blocks of your foundation…

The exact same thing applies to strength training. 

The idea of strength training is to complement your running training.

When you are in a phase where you focus on your running and trying to build some strength and for example, you run some hills… the same applies to strength training.

When you are trying to build up your running speed the strength training that you do will complement that. Therefore it’s important that your strength training and your running speak to each other and work well together.

For example, coming into your taper before a race and in recovery weeks you should also reduce your strength training volume. 

  1. Balance Your Strength Training As A Runner

A nice way to work on your balance is to do a combination of some stability or proprioceptive exercises (exercises that throw your body slightly out of kilter). This involves doing something simple like balancing on an Airex pad or a Bosu ball, or a hedgehog if you are in a gym environment.

You could even use two pillows if you’re at home, just to create an unstable surface. 

This will help teach muscles when to switch on and off at the appropriate time so that you build joint stability.

Even just training barefoot helps!

The kinesthesis of your feet on the floor often helps with proprioception, whereas shoes mask this and make balance much easier.

Building up your joint stability will minimize your risk of injury because there’s a lot less movement in the joints themselves.

Movement In The Hip Joints – This one is important.

We need to have strong stable hips. We also need to have mobile hips. 

Lack of mobility means that we lack the range of motion and often compensate with other muscles. 

With good strength and good mobility, you will be able to maximize your potential in your running gait too.

  1. How To Plan Your Strength Training

Just focusing on strength training…think about your overall year plan…

Laying The Foundations: 

You should periodize or move your strength training around so that you are not doing the same thing all the time. You should also create foundational work so that you are not diving into high-intensity training without being prepared and layering those building blocks first.

From a year’s perspective, you should create your plan in accordance with specific seasons. 

For example… You have your goal race, you take an off-season and when you start your new year plan, that is where you will start your strength training.

In that strength training block, what you should be focusing on is building some pure foundational strength to get stronger and prevent injuries in the future, and to build your body up to become more sustainable and able to go through the expected loads from getting into heavier running blocks. 

Once You Have a Proper Strength Work Base:

Once you have a nice base of strength work from the first block, you can start moving on to a bit more of a functional type of strength training. 

Closer To Race Day:

For the last part of your strength training, once you’re getting closer to your race day… You should be REDUCING the load of strength training and perhaps do some slightly more high-intensity and sharpening exercises to get ready for your race day.  (But this is specific if you have good strength training experience otherwise there  is a high risk of injury)

(The above is an overall yearly plan, we can take this down into smaller blocks and then into your week-on-week plans.) 

NOTE: Technique is extremely IMPORTANT!

It doesn’t help if you do all this with the wrong technique – you will get injured.
It’s important to remember that without proper form and technique, the benefits of these exercises are negligible. 

You run the risk of seriously injuring yourself if you make a habit of using improper technique when strength training.

When you’re strength training, you should make sure you’re able to do the exercise with the correct technique before you move from beginner classes to advanced classes.

  1. Strength Training During Your Taper

As you would taper leading up to a de-load week or an event, the same needs to happen with your strength training, this is done to ensure the body is feeling fresh and to ensure none of your muscles are feeling sore. 

To do this you should take some strength training out during the week of a race or your recovery week. 

  1. Strength Training In Race Week

For the shorter distance races like 5km, 10km, and 21 km we are happy for you to carry on with strength training till two weeks out, and in the final week (race week) you should just keep to the lighter sessions. 

The lighter sessions should be one strength session a week (at Coach Parry we call this our Band and Core type of work) as well as a foot core session.

For marathons and ultra-marathons, it becomes important for two weeks out to REALLY reduce the load on your strength training, you can still do the foot core sessions and band and core sessions. 

In race week you can leave out the band/core session and just do the foot core session. 

  1. Different Kinds Of Strength Training Exercises For Runners

You’ll be able to find a few different strength training exercises by using our FREE Masters running strength training plan that you can do twice a week, at home and with no expensive gym equipment needed.

You should focus on prime movers for running. quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. 

Don’t forget the stabilizers! (Pelvic stability, lower limb stability, foot core, and posture.)

  1. “I don’t have a gym to do strength training…” 

A lot of people believe that strength training is sitting in a gym and doing bench presses, leg presses, and just pushing as much weight as you can…

A lot of people DON’T do strength training because they are worried it is exactly that… They are worried that it will bulk them up and make them heavy which will affect their running…

This is not the case as it all depends on what strength work you are doing. 

Remember… You need to do A LOT of weight combined with A LOT of protein to bulk up!

The type of strength training you should be doing as a runner is generally lightweight, higher reps, bodyweight type of exercises that won’t let you bulk up but rather get so much stronger, and that is the key to strength training. 

There are times (beginning of the season) when using weights is a good idea. 

This idea that runners shouldn’t lift weights is old school.

At Coach Parry, we like runners to lift weights. It just needs to be at the right time in their training program and with the correct technique.

  1. Strength Training For Older Runners

Running fast well into your fifties is DEFINITELY possible. 

Our Strength & Conditioning expert Shona Hendricks talks about what strength training you can do that will help you run faster after 50… 

Join us for a free online presentation of the…

The Faster Beyond 50 Masterclass

…and discover how you can run well (and faster) as you get olderwithout training more or harder than you currently are, all while avoiding injury. 

If it feels like you’re training harder than ever but not running the paces you’d like to be running or if you’re constantly tired, fatigued or running in some sort of pain, then this is specifically for you.

Save your seat in this training now…

When you breathe, you inhale oxygen into your blood…

Your heart pumps the blood into your muscles…

That oxygen fuels chemical reactions that give your muscles energy…

That’s why you breathe more quickly while exercising because your muscles need more energy to work harder.

Did you know that there is something that actually measures how much oxygen you breathe in while exercising as hard as you can?

It’s called VO2 Max.

VO2 max is used as an indicator of your overall athletic and cardiovascular health.

In a lot more detail…

What Is VO2 Max?

VO2 max: The maximum (max) rate (V) of oxygen (O2) your body is able to use during exercise.

We all know that Oxygen is a very important part of the respiratory process. 

Take a deep breath in, hold (for a few seconds), and now breathe out. 

What just happened to you is that your lungs absorbed Oxygen and turned it into ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), basically energy. 

The greater your VO2 max (the maximum rate of oxygen your body is able to use during exercise) 

=  Increase in the amount of oxygen your body can consume.

=  Your body can use that oxygen more effectively to generate the maximum amount of ATP energy.

So, how do we even go about finding out what our own VO2 Max is? 

How Is VO2 Max Measured?

  1. In a Lab
  2. On a Device

A laboratory test will involve you running on a treadmill or cycling on a bike whilst wearing a breathing mask (connected to a gas analyzer) while intensity increases by means of incline, speed, or power.

Devices such as trackers or GPS watches give less accurate scores based on your heart rate and estimated using algorithms while exercising.

Why Is VO2 Max Considered Important To Some?

Your VO2 max level can show you how your body handles aerobic fitness exercises like running, swimming, and other cardio types. 

VO2 max can be expressed in liters per minute and in milliliters per kilogram of body mass per minute. 

In essence, your VO2 max shows how well your heart and veins push blood to your muscles and the rest of your body. 

VO2 max can be helpful as it is a good predictor of your athletic performance and it can act as a benchmark to track your progress or maintain your performance. 

A lot of people don’t realize that improving their VO2 max, can enable them to increase the time they spend doing high-intensity exercises…

A VO2 Max Misconception

There is a BIG misconception that your VO2 max IS…  your VO2 max and there’s nothing you can do to change it…

This is because it is a mechanism of demand. 

Meaning: If I’m horribly unfit right now and go for a run and run as hard as I can. I won’t be in a condition to maximize the muscles available and the energy pathways…. So my VO2 will be quite low, relative to myself.

As I get fitter and fitter and am able to demand more of my body, then that demand for oxygen will go up and so… my VO2 max will go up. 

This leads us nicely onto my next point…  We get asked this question all the time.

What Should My VO2 Max Be?

Your VO2 max depends on a few factors:

  • Age
  • Fitness Level
  • Altitude Level
  • Gender

It’s important to note that there is no one “good” VO2 max that everyone should work towards. 

Top endurance athletes practically devote their lives to improving their VO2 max.

For ‘normal’ people, however, a good VO2 max is understood in terms of ‘normal’ values, these are the ranges of VO2 max that researchers have identified in the general population. 

It does seem a bit tricky to understand but just remember that similar VO2 max results can mean different things for different people.

A VO2 max of 40 can be excellent for one person and not even nearly good for another…  

VO2 Max: Men vs Women

Studies show that men generally have more lean muscle mass than women and that women naturally have more fatty tissue.  

Muscles use oxygen while fat is simply stored energy. This is why, on average, men have higher VO2 max values than women. 

A top female endurance athlete will almost certainly have a much higher VO2 max than the average male. However, she will likely have a lower VO2 max compared to a top male endurance athlete.

All of this is probably starting to make sense to you but does it really matter…

Is knowing your VO2 Max Important?

Your VO2 Max is not important unless you would like to be racing on the international stage.

Even on the international stage, you will find that everybody who makes it on the international stage has a very high VO2 max…

BUT

Not everybody who has a very high VO2 max makes it on the international stage.

There are many other factors that contribute to performance such as skill, strength, psychology, etc. and not just the raw VO2 number

So, for you and I… It really is not that important of a number. 

VO2 Max Numbers

As I mentioned above, a lot of watches these days are able to give you a VO2 Max reading. 

The readings from watches are NOT accurate because they all use different algorithms that are based on the speed that you’re running at versus your heart rate.   

A lot of the newer units are using a risk-based heart rate, which is bringing another inaccuracy into the equation. 

If you really want to know what your VO2 Max is then the best way to get tested would be in a lab, where they will physically analyze the oxygen that you are breathing in and the carbon dioxide that you are breathing out.  

The lab test will allow you to see a really nice graph which shows you how oxygen demand goes up and as you get too tired to sustain any more speed increases there will be a slight little dip at the top of the graph, that’s very close to your VO2 max. 

In the video below, Lindsey Parry discusses why VO2 max is not as important as you may think it is.