Interval Training and Improving VO2 Max
I hit the track on Wednesday for my first round of track repeats this training season. Track repeats are one way to increase your VO2 max, which is imperative when training for an endurance event like a half-marathon. VO2 max, or maximum oxygen uptake, refers to the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can utilize during intense or maximal exercise. The more efficiently your body uses oxygen, the more energy your muscles are able to produce.
The first time I trained for a half-marathon, I didn’t know anything about VO2 max. When I introduced track repeats into my training plan the second time around, my finish time was much better. The third time I trained, I really started to “get it,” to understand how to use workouts like track repeats and hill intervals to improve VO2 max, and how that directly influences performance on race day.
My track repeat workout on Wednesday, with my split times, went like this:
- Warm-up — 15 minutes brisk walk, light jog
- 1 x 400m — 2:00 ; 200m recovery walk
- 4 x 400m — 2:05 – 2:15 ; with 200m recovery intervals
- 2 x 400m — 2:17, 2:19 ; with 200m recovery intervals
- 1 x 400m — 2:20
- Cool down — 15 minutes light jog, walk
All in all, not too bad for the first time out. My normal training splits for the 400 are right around 2:00. It’s just too early in my season to sustain that pace for the entire workout. But I’ll get stronger. Every run, I get stronger.
Here are three good articles about the physiology behind VO2 max and training tips to boost performance: