Tired of not improving your run split? Or are you putting in a lot of time running, only to be reduced to walking during a race? This high intensity workout will help bust you out of your rut.

Similar to my ‘Break Your Plateau on the Bike Workout‘, adding VO2 Max workouts – or sessions specifically designed to improve your aerobic capacity – will enable gains in both aerobic and anaerobic power as well as improvements in your speed.

Additionally, by combining a VO2 set that includes properly designed recovery efforts, you will enhance your ability to clear lactate from your muscles and ultimately train your body to keep your legs fresher during a race.

Keep in mind that VO2 workouts are hard! You should be pushing hard each interval although not at an all-out sprint. It’s helpful to come into this session with reasonably fresh legs so you can get the most gain from them. The intervals may seem shorter than you’re used to, allowing enough rest to recover for the next repeat (hopefully!)

Incorporate this workout once per week within a 6 to 12 week block during the season, and you’ll bring up your speed and increase your economy across all distances.

Have fun, smash it, and let me know how it goes on  Facebook or Twitter.


Dave’s Run VO2 Workout

There are 4 terrain options for this workout.  Regularly choosing a different type of terrain provides great training stimulus. I encourage you to mix it up and try all of them to help build gluteal, core, quad and calf strength! Here are your  options:

  1. Track
  2. Measured flat course
  3. Hill with an uphill grade of about 1 to 3%
  4. Uphill and downhill combination, 75% uphill and 25% downhill in one segment, again with a grade about 1 to 3%.

Tip: Don’t forget the 25% of the total time running downhill for building eccentric strength and power!

Warm Up

12 min with the final 3 min at aerobic pace


1st Set  

6 x 30 sec with 30 sec easy jog. The goal in this set is to build each interval up to your desired VO2 pace over the final 10 sec.

Main Set

In this set beginners should aim for around 9 minutes total of VO2 intervals where more experienced athletes can increase their time to up to 18 minutes.

4 x 3.5 min

Rest Interval (RI) increases after each repetition.

  1. 90 sec
  2. 2 min
  3. 4 min
  4. 4 min

Run these hard!

Note the increasing RI will allow you to maintain your target pace on the 3rd and 4th repeat.

If you’re unable to hold the same pace throughout the interval, include a short jog for 20 sec at the 2 min mark of each repeat. This will allow you to “collect” yourself and give a short enough recovery to regain the pace for the final 90 sec.

If you’re running these as hill repeats, your RI will be the entire descent back to your starting point.

If you are doing the combined uphill and downhill workout, 75% of the interval is uphill or approximately 2 min 40 sec, then carefully turnaround and run the final 25% or 50 sec downhill.

After each repeat — to aid in the recovery and lactate clearing mechanism — run the initial 20 sec of your recovery at aerobic pace, then jog very slowly; walking is fine, if necessary.

Cool Down

8-12 min

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