There are a lot of metrics available to runners these days - pace, distance, time, V02 max, recovery advisor, race predictor, stress score, heart rate zones, lactate threshold, vertical oscillation, …
My name is Patrick McGilvray, and I’m an experienced marathoner, ultra runner, Sports Nutritionist, Master Life Coach, and weight loss coach for runners. I’ve dedicated my life to helping runners just like you properly fuel your body and your mind. So you can get leaner, get stronger, run faster, and run longer than you ever thought possible. This is Running Lean.
Hey there, and welcome to episode 194 of Running Lean. My name is Patrick McGilvray, The Weight Loss Coach for Runners and today, VO2 Max Lactate Threshold and Running Economy.
So there are a lot of metrics available to runners these days, pace, distance, time, VO2 max, recovery advisor, race predictor stress score, heart rate zones, lactate threshold, vertical oscillation, I don’t know what that is, performance condition and on and on. And on.
A lot of these, I don’t think they’re really all that helpful. Some of these are important and you want to pay attention to them. So the whole thing is kind of confusing, and a little bit overwhelming. Especially if you’re trying to understand all the metrics or improve on them.
Okay, so today, I just want to look at a few key metrics. And I want to explain what they mean, and how you might be able to improve them. And the three key metrics you want to pay attention to as a runner are: VO2 max, lactate threshold, and running economy.
And I’m going to explain each of these, what they mean, how they affect you as an endurance athlete, and what you can do to improve them. But first, let me ask you a couple questions here.
What is it that you really want for yourself? Do you want to be healthy? Do you want to be happy? Do you want to lose some weight? How much weight do you want to lose? 30 pounds? 40 pounds? 50 pounds? Do you want to see your abs again? Do you want to PR your next marathon? What is it that you really want for yourself?
I would say most people want to be healthy and they want to be happy and they want to have that six pack abs they want to marathon their PRs. I think this is something that most of us probably would say yes, that we want those things. But not everyone is willing to endure the pain and the struggle required to achieve those things.
People want to lose weight or not, but they’re not willing to go through the struggle of giving up some of their favorite foods. People want the six pack abs, but they don’t want to spend the time that’s required at the gym sweating out those painful workouts.
People want to run faster, but they don’t want to struggle with the speed work the hill repeats the sprint workouts etc. The truth is the struggle is necessary. You can’t accomplish anything worthwhile without some degree of struggle. The struggle is a requirement of change, but most people will not choose it.
Instead, they choose a different kind of struggle. They choose to struggle with remaining stuck where they are. They choose to struggle staying overweight, or the struggle of never becoming a faster runner, or the struggle of never living up to their true potential.
Here’s the truth. Who you are is determined by what you are willing to struggle for. You can choose to struggle with where you are right now. Or choose the struggle that comes with change. So which struggle are you choosing?
If you want some help, want some support getting through the struggle of change, I got you, you can join the Running Lean Coaching Project. This is my unique weight loss coaching program designed specifically for runners. Just go to runningleancoaching.com/join to learn more. Book a call with me and we’ll talk about getting you through the struggle. Cool.
Also, if you want a little bit of help, just getting started with all this stuff with the right nutrition with strength training with, you know, improving your endurance and your mindset, I put together a free training, it’s called Five Simple Steps To Becoming A Leaner Stronger Runner. All you got to do is go to my website runningleancoaching.com and click on the link that says Free Training.
You’re going to learn how to crush your weight loss goals and your running goals directly from me The Weight Loss Coach for Runners, cool. I spent a lot of time putting this together. It’s sort of the culmination of what I’ve been teaching here on the podcast over the last few years. So definitely check it out, runningleancoaching.com and click on Free Training. Cool.
Okay, so this week’s topic is VO2 max, lactate threshold and running economy. And the reason I’m talking about this today is because Brent sent in a question. A couple of weeks ago I asked for topics. So if you guys have a topic that you’re particularly interested in, then I would love to answer your question here on the podcast.
You can send me questions about weight loss, about running, nutrition, diet, fueling for running, feeling for training, strength training any of that stuff, find me on Facebook Running Lean Coaching or Instagram @runningleancoach, or you can just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But Brent’s question was about VO2 max specifically. And he didn’t really understand what it was. And he wanted sort of a one on one lesson on VO2 max. You know, what is it? Why is it important for him and how it might improve his running? And I thought, you know, as I was putting together notes for this, I started to really see that there was this correlation between VO2 max, lactate threshold, and then running economy.
And so I wanted to kind of lump these all together into this episode, and you’ll see why they’re all pretty related here. Okay, but there’s some confusion as to each of these and what they are. So I wanted to kind of clear up the confusion today, hopefully, and give you some practical tips on how you can improve these things, so you can become a better runner.
So the reason I want to talk about this today is that we always want to improve as runners. You know, we hear all these terms like VO2 max, lactate threshold, whatever, we don’t understand them. We don’t know what they mean. Is my number good? Is it bad? And should I improve it? What if it’s going down? Like, what does it even mean to my running performance? Does this mean I’m never going to get faster?
So we got to clear up some of this stuff. Okay. I want to help you make sense of these numbers, at least. There’s a bunch of other metrics. Now I just looked at my Garmin and was looking through all these metrics stuff I’ve never even heard of before, like vertical oscillation. And I could probably look it up and figure out what it means. But I was just like, that’s just so funny. Because does that really matter? I don’t know. I don’t know that it really matters.
And like to somebody out there, like, yeah, I want to improve my vertical oscillation. It’s like you do that, bro, you go and prove that vertical oscillation all day long. But for me, I’m looking at some of these key indicators. And I want to get to the bottom line after I talk about all this stuff.
But you know, just understand that some of these matter more than others, and some of this stuff is interesting. You know, I find the data is interesting, but isn’t really all that helpful. Okay. So VO2 max is one of those things where it can be a little bit confusing, a lot of people really just don’t even understand what it is. Okay. So let’s talk about that.
What is VO2 max? So, VO2 max refers to the maximum amount the maximum volume, so V stands for volume, O2 is oxygen, the maximum amount of oxygen your body can absorb and use during exercise. So it is a way to measure your aerobic fitness. Okay.
So if you’re looking to improve aerobic fitness, and you improve your VO2 max, sometimes it’s called your oxygen uptake, then you could see some improvements to your aerobic fitness. Okay?
Obviously, oxygen is important. It’s sort of involved with like breathing, right, but the other part of this is that as you breathe in oxygen, your lungs absorb it and turn that into adenosine triphosphate, which is ATP.
So this is energy, right, so your body will turn oxygen into energy and power your cells to help them release carbon dioxide. And this is great as the more oxygen that you can move, the more that your body can consume, the more effectively your body can generate ATP, right. So that is a good thing.
So having a high VO2 max means that your body is able to oxygenate more cells efficiently right and produce more energy. So your body can handle better aerobic fitness activities like running that require a lot of oxygen uptake.
Okay, so a high VO2 max can be a pretty good predictor of athletic performance, especially if you’re a runner. You can also look at your VO2 max as a benchmark. So you can look at it as a way of improving so wherever your whatever your number is now you can look at that as a way of like okay, I’m maintaining that number which is good over time, but maybe you can improve that a little bit as you go okay.
And it’s not just for athletes. It’s also a way of determining like cardio respiratory fitness and anyone right and medical professionals use this as a way of determining your heart health basically heart and lung health okay. So everyone you know should probably try to increase their cardio respiratory endurance and a higher VO2 max is associated with a lower risk of death which is a good thing in general okay.
So the way they typically measure VO2 max is you go to a metal colo facility like a lab or a hospital, and you’ve got a specialist there, and they hook you up to a metabolic cart, and in a VO2 max test, you put a mask on, a breathing mask, and they want to, they want to see how much oxygen you’re taking in, and how much you know carbon dioxide is going out.
And I don’t know, they measure all this information. And they can figure out how many milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute that you are using. So VO2 max is measured in millimeters of oxygen per kilogram per kilogram of body weight per minute.
Right and so, you know, if you have a VO2 max of 80, then you’re able to use or utilize 80 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute. So it’s a good thing, right? There are also other ways of kind of getting a ballpark of what your VO2 max is.
So that’s why when you look at your watch, it is not doing that metabolic cart test, obviously. So it is just guessing basically, and it’s guessing based on a bunch of different numbers. I know some of these watches now have the ability to track not just heart rate, but also pulse ox.
So they can see how much oxygen is actually being utilized in your pulse somehow and so you’re looking at things like that, your weight, your performance levels during running, your heart rate, whether you know your heart rate is improving your age.
So all these different factors can affect your VO2 max. Other factors would be your age, you know, your training performance. Altitude affects your VO2 max and gender. So after about the age of 30, VO2 max typically declines at a rate of 1-2% per year. So just understand that.
So if yours is lower, if you’re older, then your VO2 max is lower than it used to be. You could be just maintaining your fitness but it’s gonna go lower in general for most people. Also training you can actually train and get your VO2 max higher. Some people are just gifted with super high VO2 maxes and some people will never be able to get them super high, but you can improve what you have, which is good. We’ll talk about that in a minute.
Gender affects your VO2 max. So men typically have higher VO2 maxes than women. Men typically have more muscle mass and higher hemoglobin levels which can affect the VO2 max outcomes there. And then altitude affects your VO2 max. So there’s decreased oxygen as you get higher and altitude and this affects your aerobic capacity and decreases your performance. Okay.
So if you’re planning on training at altitude, just think about that. You may not be able to get to your maximum effort and it takes some time to adjust to altitude. But then when you come down from altitude, you’re going to have more oxygen and it’s going to feel amazing, you’ll feel like Superman or woman.
Okay, so those things affect VO2 max. So just understand that there is a way of testing your VO2 max using a field test, okay. And there’s a test that you can do. It’s called a submaximal exercise test. So you can’t really get to that maximum number because you’re not hooked up to a cart in a controlled environment where they’re, you know, pushing you on a treadmill as hard as you can.
But you’ll be able to get a pretty good idea of where you are by doing something like the Cooper test. So the Cooper test is pretty simple. It’s just how far can you run in 12 minutes. So you do a warm up, maybe 20-30 minutes, and then you just run as far as you can in 12 minutes, and you have to push yourself.
And I have not done this one. I’ve done some other max heart rate tests, which is a little bit different. But this seems pretty terrible. It sounds like it would be pretty hard to do. But let’s just say you did this. You run as far as you can in 12 minutes. And then you can put this into an online calculator.
You just take your the distance that you ran, and you put that into an online calculator, but basically it’s saying this that you take the number 36 times the distance that you ran in miles, and then you subtract 11.3 from that and you don’t have to remember this like I said you can go online and do this. But let’s say you ran two miles.
So you take two miles times 36 and then you subtract 11.3. And that gives you 60.7. And that’s your VO2 Max. If you’re able to run 1.5 miles in 12 minutes, you take that and multiply it by 36. So 36 times 1.5 minus 11.3 gives you 42.7.
My VO2 max is somewhere around there. It’s like 45. So probably a little over 1.5 miles in 12 minutes, I like I said, I haven’t done the test. But I should do that. So I can share that with you guys.
But, and then you could also look up, I’m not going to go through all this right now because there’s a lot of information out there, but you can look up what good VO2 max ranges are, depending on your age. So I’m in you know, I’m in between the like 50 and 59 age range. And having a 45 VO2 max puts me at like the 90 or 95th percentile. So like the top five or 10% of people out there for my age, you know, I’m in the top five or 10%. So that’s a good sign.
You know, if yours is lower than that, that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that you know, your performance sucks or anything like that, it just means maybe you’ve got a little room for improvement there. But you can look up those numbers online, you can just type in VO2 max chart by age, and it’ll give you a list of all the ages and stuff like that and what the different breakdowns are.
So let’s see. So what does all this tell you? So we want to, we’re focused on running improvement, right, we want to improve our running performance overall. So looking at VO2 maxes as one metric, you can see that having the ability to increase your oxygen intake can be good, it can probably help you to become a better runner. Right?
But it does not necessarily mean that just having a higher VO2 max means that you’re going to be a faster runner. Right? The potential is there. But there’s a lot of other factors that influence how you run. And we’re going to get into all that in just a minute. But just understand that VO2 max might tell you how big your aerobic engine is. But it doesn’t tell you what you can do with it.
Okay, so let’s say you have two runners who are training at the same speed, but one runner is using less oxygen than the other at that given pace, the runner who’s using less oxygen to maintain the same pace is running more efficiently right and probably running a faster race.
So you would think the one that’s running faster would have the VO2 max higher but not exactly. So the faster runner can actually have a lower VO2 max and still be the superior runner. And this boils down to how well that runner can effectively use the oxygen that they’re taking in. Just because you can take it in doesn’t mean you can use it properly.
Okay, so one can have a bigger engine. So you could have the increased capacity for more oxygen, but you may have a poor ability to use it because you haven’t trained for it. Right so you can’t produce the energy that somebody else can produce with a lower VO2 max.
Okay, so just understand that it’s not a direct correlation to running performance or speed okay. But if you want to improve your VO2 max you can you want to train at or near or above that VO2 max intensity.
So, when you increase oxygen intake, you’re going to improve the uptake in muscle fibers you’re going to improve how those muscle fibers function, you’re going to increase the ability to slow the buildup of waste products like lactate, which I’m going to talk about in a minute VO2 max training can increase the efficiency of your running and helps you improve your form as well. But running form is something that is separate from your VO2 max. Okay, so just understand that as well.
But training at VO2 max also increases your leg muscle strength that increases power which will help to improve running economy. And that’s really what we’re after here is going to be improving running economy with all of these things here.
So your muscles will become stronger and your muscle fibers will be able to last longer and produce more energy and that’s where you get faster and running becomes easier for you. Okay, so the way you’re going to do this is to train at your VO2 max or near it.
So that would be doing stuff like HIIT workouts, high intensity interval training. So an example that might be 10 by 400 meter intervals at a 5k pace that’s gonna put you close to that VO2 max and intensity.
Okay, tempo runs where you are holding a five or 10k pace for an extended period of time, maybe two miles up to four, six miles, something like that. Hill repeats where you’re finding a relatively steep hill, and then you’re running hard up at something that you can run has to be long enough where you can run up for like two to three minutes.
So if you can hit that two minute mark two and a half minutes, that’s perfect. Run hard up the hill, jog it back down and just repeat that. And all of these workouts, just make sure you’re doing a warm up and cool down, so that you’re not risking getting injured, you never want to, like go sprint from cold states, like you want to make sure you warm up before you do any kind of high intensity workouts like this.
So here’s the thing, knowing your VO2 max is only important if you make it important. And if your training plan like demands that you have to know this and that’s for most of us, we can estimate, it’s really not going to be that important.
But at some point, you can look at this number and see that maybe you’re improving it and that’s a good sign, that means that you’re improving your fitness, okay. But understand that highly trained people, people that have got like very fast runners, they may see their VO2 max go down, even if they’re running harder and faster and running feels great for them.
So it is a marker of cardio respiratory fitness, but it doesn’t necessarily relate to endurance training as a whole, because there’s so many other factors involved here, which I’m going to go over here when I get into these next couple of topics here. But just understand that, you know, it’s a nice measurement, and it’s something that we can look at, but it’s not everything. So just understand that.
Okay, so the next thing I’m going to talk about is lactate threshold. So, lactate threshold is the point during exercise, when lactate builds up in the bloodstream faster than the body can remove it. So this is the border between what we call like low intensity and high intensity work. And that lactate threshold is that divider, okay? So it’s a good predictor of your fitness.
Okay, so higher lactate threshold means that an athlete can run at a higher intensity effort for longer before they hit exhaustion. Right before that lactate becomes your body’s ability to clear it becomes impossible. So the lactate threshold training is where you’re, you know, doing some exercise at a specific intensity range where the blood lactate starts to accumulate, okay.
So if you did 20-30 minutes of sustained tempo effort, something like that, and you hit that lactate threshold intensity, for that 20-30 minutes, that’s going to put you into that place where you’re really pushing the limit of that of that lactate, okay. But this is how you increase your running intensity by pushing that limit.
Okay, so that lactate threshold is a measure of the effort that you can sustain at a steady state for longer periods. So when we exercise we break down glucose to create energy. And part of the process is lactate is produced and hydrogen ions are produced, right, it’s just part of the process, these things hit our bloodstream.
And at slower paces, your body’s able to clear these byproducts pretty easily, that’s called buffering, your body’s able to buffer them. So if you’re doing a steady state workout, and you’re running at a comfortable pace, you can maintain that pace all day, right, you can do 24 hours. You know, people do that all the time, you run 100 miles, you get that 24-28 hours, something like that of a steady state, but it’s a low intensity, your body’s clearing that lactate.
But as you run harder, these byproducts are increasing in your blood faster than you can, you know, flush them out. And so that’s where you start to get into that threshold place. And once they accumulate so much that you can’t flush them out anymore, then you’ve hit your threshold, right and your muscles are gonna start to burn, you’re gonna feel like your blood is on fire, and you have to stop. Right?
You’ve probably felt that before doing some sort of interval training. Okay. So there’s lots of ways of measuring lactate threshold. Sometimes they do this with blood tests. So they will actually have you run intervals and gradually increase the intensity of these intervals.
And then they do like a finger stick or something and they test your blood to see how much lactate is there. And they look at your heart rate and your perceived exertion and and then you can kind of figure out where is that threshold? Or like, where’s the point where, you know, lactate accumulates too much, and you have to stop?
And again, this is one of those things where it’s probably not very practical, you’d have to get some kind of a doctor or scientist or somebody that understands all these things and have the right equipment to be able to test your blood while you’re running. But you can do some tests that are similar to the VO2 max test, you can do your own lactate threshold sort of testing.
And there’s a few different ways that you can do this, like you can do a 30 minute time trial, just to estimate your lactate threshold. And the way you do this workout is by doing this, like on a day where you’re feeling pretty recovered, so you don’t want to do it on a day when you’re super tired, and you go to a track or some flat road, you can even do this on a treadmill, but you you do a little bit of warm up.
And then once you’re warmed up, you start running at the fastest speed that you can maintain for 30 minutes. So this is going to be a 30 minute time shot. So you’re going to maintain a steady pace. So that’s important, you want to maintain the same pace if you can over 30 minutes. So you don’t want to start out too fast or too slow. But you want to maintain the same pace as close as you can to that same pace for 30 minutes.
And then at the 10 minute mark 10 minutes into that run, you check your heart rate, and you have to like write that down or make note of it, okay, and you could probably look at your Garmin data to see what that is. And then you continue running and then you check your heart rate at 30 minutes.
So at 10 minutes, you check your heart rate at 30 minutes, check your heart rate, you take those two numbers, you divide them by two to find the average between the 10 and the 30 minute mark. And that is what is called your lactate threshold heart rate.
Okay, so let’s say your heart rate after 10 minutes is 130. And then at the end, your heart rate is 170. So you take those two numbers divided by two that becomes 150. So 150 becomes your lactate threshold heart rate. So it may not be exactly the number that you know where your lactate is building up, but it’s a pretty good indicator.
Again, this is what we call a submaximal test, because you’re not going to be able to push yourself to the point where you’re getting to that place where lactate builds up so much that you have to stop because that’s a horrible, horrible place to be. But this is a good way of getting a number that you can look at and try to shoot for.
So then you know that that lactate threshold heart rate, let’s say it’s 150, or whatever it is that you know that you want to be working in that zone right there. Okay, so and you can create training zones based off of that number, they’re not the same as max heart rate training zones, just understand that it’s a little bit different.
But then you have something that you can kind of play with. And again, you can go online and look up calculators for lactate threshold heart rate training zones, and they’ll show you how to determine all that stuff. Okay. But here’s what I’m gonna talk about here, how to increase your lactate threshold.
So the way you improve this, because you want to be able to buffer more lactate. So you got to be doing your training at or above that lactate threshold pace or that effort level, or that heart rate. Okay.
So one thing that’s great about lactate threshold is that you can improve this over time with training. Much like you can improve the VO2 max with the type of training that you do, okay. And there’s a couple of different ways you can do this. One is steady state training. And then the other one is this lactate threshold training that you want to do a couple times a week.
So steady state aerobic training is where you’re just, you know, running at the same pace for an extended period of time. And this is great because it helps to improve lactate clearance in general and buffering, okay.
The lactate threshold training is where you’re going to be pushing yourself into those higher intensities, okay, so you don’t want to do these too frequently. And you got to keep them pretty short. So maximum might be 20-30 minutes, something like that. But the goal with these lactate threshold training runs is to keep your pace steady throughout the run.
So you want to meet that heart rate goal and the pace goal and you want to be consistent with that okay, so lactate training is generally below your race pace, but it should be done comfortably hard, like it should be challenging, but not maximal intensity like the VO2 max training.
Okay, this is where the pace calculators are handy since they can help you determine what pace you’re going to be running at the different lactate threshold numbers that that we all have, right? So what does this tell you about your whole performance and speed and your ability to improve and all that stuff?
Well, much like VO2 max lactate threshold is important. It’s actually I think it’s a great number to know and then to be able to improve. But it’s not the whole story. Right? It’ll help you to run faster. And at higher intensities. It might be a better indicator of overall running performance.
But I think the one thing that we really want to look at and it’s a little more nefarious here, just because it’s tough to like really dial this in, but it’s it’s running economy. Okay. So running, running economy is one of the cornerstones of physiological performance and distance running. Okay, along with lactate threshold, and VO2 max.
And the latter two are the ones that did get all the attention because it’s just a number you can look at. You know, lactate threshold is the measure of the effort that you can sustain at a steady state for longer periods. VO2 max is a measure of the total amount of oxygen you can take in and then you write running isn’t just about oxygen, though.
It’s not just about, you know, a threshold number or a certain pace, right. So when I talk about running economy, we’re talking about a whole range of factors that influence your running like your running form, your technique, your strength, your training, balance, all these other things.
So typically, when people look at running economy, though, if you go online and start doing some research on running an economy, they kind of lump it in there with VO2 max and the way they measure it is using the same equipment that they use to measure VO2 max.
So you put on this gas analyzer you put a mask on, you run on a treadmill, that I’m using this sort of broader definition of running an economy as a combination of VO2 max, lactate threshold, power, speed, strength, endurance running form, all of these things are more important as a whole to look at.
So this is more of a holistic look and improving your running performance than just looking at these two numbers, these two metrics that are, frankly, kind of confusing for some people, even though I just explained all that stuff, you might be still scratching your head a little bit. And thinking like, I don’t understand this stuff. It’s okay. You are not alone, for sure. Okay.
So I like that broader definition. I like just looking at running economy as your overall running performance and all the things that go into affecting that. Okay, so let’s just talk about, like how we can improve this running economy?
How do we improve that, one thing that’s going to help improve this a lot is just getting stronger. Right? We want to focus on strength work. And I talk to my clients about this every single day, the importance of strength training for runners, if you want to improve your body composition, like diet is going to be probably the number one driver there. But the number two driver is going to be strength.
If you want to improve your running, if you want to get faster or be able to run longer, strength training is going to get you there. It’s so, so important. In fact, they did a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology. And it showed that a group of runners replaced 32% of their running training with explosive strength training. And they improve their 5k times without any changes to their VO2 max.
So they were running less but they just did more strength training and they were able to improve their running performance. They’re running 5k times and their VO2 max stayed the same. So you can see that VO2 max isn’t all that great of an indicator, right?
But strength training is going to be one of the best things you can do for yourself. Like I said, it helps you improve fat burning helps to improve your ability to run faster. It helps you to run longer, because you’re going to be able to run longer distances before your muscles fatigue, it’s going to help you to prevent injury. So overall running economy is going to be improved by getting stronger.
Another factor is the type of strength training that you’re doing. So part of the strength training would be lifting weights and lifting heavier weights to build stronger muscles. But another form of strength training would be to do something like plyometrics and jumping exercises, hopping exercises, those kinds of things that help improve tendons and ligaments.
So this is going to improve flexion, it’s going to approve the elasticity of your tendons and ligaments. And so you’ll have a little bit more like spring in your step. All right. And they’ve done some studies where they showed that runners who performed five minutes of a double legged hop exercise, so they just like jumped up and down, saw improvements in the running economy at higher speeds.
So just doing something as simple as that can help improve your running economy as well. So stuff like Plyometrics, super important for runners. It’s one of those things, you can’t really improve tendons and ligaments through strength training alone, that does help, it takes a long time to get there to improve those things. But doing the plyometrics will help speed that process up a little bit.
Another way that you can improve running economy is just working at your goal, race pace. So the more you train, at your goal, race pace, the stronger your body’s going to be at that pace, and you’re just going to become more economical at that pace. Right, it’s pretty simple to just say like, hey, if you run a, you know, nine minute pace for a marathon, then you got to do a lot of training, a big volume of training at that nine minute pace.
And the more you do that, the more efficient, you’re going to be at that nine minute pace, right. So don’t be afraid to spend some time doing that kind of work and working at that goal, pace, right. Also, training volume is going to help to improve your running economy and the frequency of your training.
Like we want to make sure you’re running enough to where you are improving your volume, increasing your volume, and maybe your your frequency of running, but you got to make sure you’re doing in a way that isn’t too much, right, because if you increase your overall volume, a lot of people do that.
And they end up getting injured because they’re running too much too often. So you got to build that strong aerobic engine and volume will help you to do that. But then you got to be careful of the frequency and be careful of not, you know, going too fast or too adding too much volume too soon. Because that’s how you risk improvement.
Another way of improving your running economy is doing these interval workouts that I’ve mentioned, you know, the HIIT workouts, the high intensity interval training, and running faster, because when you run faster, you improve all these metrics, but you also improve your running form.
It’s really hard to run with terrible form when you’re sprinting. Or if you’re running hard up the hill, you’re naturally going to have better running form and better running form means that you’re improving your running economy there as well. Right. So there are a number of factors that affect your running economy, including VO2 max, including lactate threshold.
I hope you understand that I know this can all be a little bit confusing to the average runner, right. But I hope you understand now that how, you know just trying to improve one of these metrics may not be really worth it, or may cause a little too much stress or condition for whatever.
If it was me, I would focus on improving overall as a runner, I would look at my whole running economy in general. Is your effort level at a certain pace improving? Yes or no? Is your pace for that 5k 10k half marathon, whatever distance you’re using as a benchmark, is that improving? Does running generally feel easier? Or is running feeling hard? Or are you recovering properly from one workout so that you’re able to do the next workout to your full potential?
These are better questions to ask and better ways of looking at how you’re improving. I mean, the numbers are interesting, and there’s a lot of good data you can get from there. And improving VO2 max and improving lactate threshold will improve running economy as well. But just understand that there’s a bigger picture we want to be looking at here. Okay.
All right. I hope you guys got something out of this episode today. And as always, if you’re looking for some help with any of this stuff, we can talk about personal coaching, just head over to runningleancoaching.com click on Work With Me. That’s all I got for you today. Love you all, keep on Running Lean, and I’ll talk to you soon.