Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A New Marathon Clinic - A New Road

A new marathon clinic started last night.  If my faulty memory serves me correctly, I think this is my fifteenth consecutive marathon clinic.  My next marathon will be my 25th.

I have set myself an overall goal of yet again qualifying for the Boston Marathon - still a daunting 3:30:59 or better - and I must confess that I am really looking forward to running a Fall Marathon.  In a perfect world I would love to break through the 3:20:00 barrier.

I agreed to be the Pace Group Leader for the 3:45 group and know that my Sundays will be spent with many old friends.   Something else to look forward to in the coming months.

One of  the best parts for me - at least anticipated - in the upcoming clinic has been the number of marathoners I know who are looking to set new personal bests.  I really do love nothing better than crunching numbers...

I encouraged everyone who expressed an interest in setting a personal best to start out with a clear baseline of their current fitness by going and getting their Max VO2 tested and their body fat accurately measured AND by knowing their current Maximum Heart Rate.  Once you've established those parameters, the rest is numbers crunching and training.  Hard training. Smart training.

The clinic started out with a tempo run and I finished up about where I expected after a long springtime of sloth, gluttony and indulgence!

First confession.  I am tipping the scales at 206 pounds.  Three pounds heavier than when I began my first quest to qualify for Boston!   And at a body weight back in the day of 203 pounds, my body fat percentage was 22%.   So my current beluganess puts me in the 24% body fat ball park!

For a little walk down memory lane, here is that old Blog...

I ran 8 kilometers last night in 39:51, which is about what I expected to do. My best 8K last year when seriously training was a much more promising 34:11.

One of my favorite marathon web sites for training information, tips and calculators is

An 8K time of 39:51 calculates to a marathon of 3:54:48, which I suspect is spot on.

A rough rule of thumb is that for every percentage of body fat that you lose, you gain one percent in performance, or speed. Calculated another way, for someone like myself, for every pound of body fat I lose, I'll get one minute faster over 26.2 miles.

In 2005 and 2006 that is exactly what happened.  I lost twenty five pounds and ran back to back 3:30:00 marathons in Kelowna and Boston.

Back to the tempo runs.  Last year in 2007 I ran a best 8K of 34:11, which according to the Race Result Predictor projects a marathon time of 3:21:24, all other things being equal, and in the best of all possible worlds...

After the run last night the usual suspects went for pasta and pizza.  And in time honored tradition we bench raced our bodies. "If I do this, if I do that, you should really..." God how I love these lunatics...

So this morning I woke up a little stiff but so looking forward to the next 16 weeks of sweat and toil.  I signed up for a couple of races yesterday to get my competitive edge back and to give me some concrete goals to work towards.

Back on the Boston Diet - or as I like to put it - the long, cruel summer...

And under the category of you can never have too much information:








1. What are some different levels of VO2 max, and what do these numbers mean?

VO2 max values, typically expressed in ml/kg/min., can vary between 20 and 90 ml/kg/min. The average value for a sedentary American is about 35 ml/kg/min, while elite endurance athletes average about 70 ml/kg/min. Your sedentary VO2 max value is primarily determined by genetics (a sedentary person may have a VO2 max value as high as 50 ml/kg/min. or as low as 20 ml/kg/min). Although anyone can improve their sedentary VO2 max value through training, this genetic variation helps explain why everyone can't train themselves to be elite.

2. What are some of the highest levels of VO2 max ever recorded?

The highest VO2 max value ever recorded, 93 ml/kg/min, was from a Scandinavian cross country skier. Steve Prefontaine, at 84.4 ml/kg/min, had one of the highest VO2 max values recorded in elite runners. Grete Waitz had a VO2 max of 73 ml/kg/min. when she was running at her best, one of the highest recorded values for women and on par with the values for some elite men. 

3. How do some elite runners make up for lower levels of VO2 max?

Although all elite runners have VO2 max values well above the population mean, the correlation between VO2 max and performance is not absolute. Derek Clayton only had a VO2 max of 69 ml/kg/min. and Frank Shorter only recorded a value of 71 ml/kg/min., yet both of these runners ran marathon times of under 2:11 and surely outperformed runners with higher values. This variation in VO2 max values among the elite is possible because VO2 max is only one of several factors that determine running performance. These other factors include mental attitude (ability to tolerate pain), running economy (how efficiently one runs), and lactate threshold (fastest pace you can maintain without accumulating large amounts of lactic acid in your blood). A runner with a relatively low VO2 max, but high in these other performance factors, could outperform a runner with a significantly higher VO2 max but with poor running economy and a low lactate threshold. For example, Derek Clayton and Frank Shorter compensated for their lower VO2 max values with their high efficiency and ability to run their marathons at a high percentage of their VO2 max without accumulating too much lactic acid (high lactate threshold).
MAX VO2 Calculators


Blogger April said...

Great informative post! Thanks!

1:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's great to have you back!

2:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Karen said...

Keep Blogging Coach Vince!

5:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome back!!

7:40:00 AM  

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