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2016-08-14 5:27 PM

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Subject: VO2 Max
I'm trying to figure out how much I can do to increase VO2 Max. I've heard it's very difficult unless you train at altitude. I hate the idea that it's a fixed thing that I can't do much about. When I do group runs I am always the first to be winded and have trouble chatting with everyone. When I swim I pretty much need to take a breath every two stokes.

I've done some tough races (two HIMs and IMMT) but I don't have the speed I'd like to have and I think my lungs are sort of holding me back.

Any thoughts on this are welcome.


2016-08-14 6:13 PM
in reply to: halfironmike

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Subject: RE: VO2 Max
Have you actually had your VO2 max tested in a lab to see what it is?

It's very rare for VO2 max to be the limiting factor. There are lots of things you can do to improve your speed, though.

By the way-- if you are using your Garmin's estimate of what your VO2 max is, THAT can definitely be improved upon by training. That's not a hard cap and not likely to be your true VO2 max that you'd get by a test.
2016-08-14 6:36 PM
in reply to: halfironmike

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Subject: RE: VO2 Max
I agree with Jen that the v02max number is really not important. (I've had mine done and it's just a number, not a useful training guide)

There are lots of things you can do to improve your race pace. Training at a 'vo2max' effort is one of them, as is LT/tempo type training and just doing endurance training. You don't mention what sport you are seeking improvement, but these types of training stimuli work for all tri-sports (S/B/R).

Not being able to talk while running is a pace that is above easy, and probably not true tempo. It's hard but not super hard. There is more benefit to that pace than just easy, aerobic running, BUT it always depends on what the goal of the workout is.

In swimming, you need to first be able to hold a steady, even, efficient, easy pace and learn basic swim mechanics to go faster. It is a technical sport-much more so than B and R.
And I breathe every stroke, by design, at a sustainable pace which is worked on with distance swimming to improve my swimfitness. Speedwork comes with shorter sessions with focus on mechanics of the stroke and decreasing by resemblance to a barge travelling through the water.

You seem to be doing long course tri races. The goals of these races is to hold B and R paces that are reasonably fast and..not..slow..down (much)

Training to get to that point takes volume training with multipace segments. Some runs or rides have tempo segments with recovery, some have much faster vo2max effort with lots of recovery and many are just aerobic running/riding miles.

The proper mix is important to improve without breaking down. A coach can be key. If not, learn about the process of training.

>
2016-08-14 6:44 PM
in reply to: halfironmike

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Subject: RE: VO2 Max
Assuming you're not an elite athlete already training at/near the absolute top of your physical potential, pretty much any appropriate training will help you improve your VO2 max. Whether lower or high intensity would be most effective (the latter tends to push it up faster, but carries greater risk of injury) would depend on your background and where you are in the season. It's not a set value, just a "ceiling" that reflects your fitness at a point in time.

Another possibility--any chance you might have asthma (exercise or allergy induced), or an iron deficiency, or other medical issue? That can lead to breathlessness out of proportion to the intensity of the activity, regardless of your actual fitness. And the former two are pretty common in endurance athletes. I used to wonder if I was allergic to my bike, until I realized that every time I bike outside, my lungs are taking in all those allergens at high speed, and my airways are constricting!

I seriously don't understand how the Garmin figures out Vo2 max. Every once in a while I'll do a bike workout and it (Edge 520) will announce, "New VO2 Max" and give me some number. I train with power so I would assume it is doing something with power and/or heart rate?? But sometimes it doesn't seem like it was really that hard a workout!
2016-08-14 7:06 PM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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Subject: RE: VO2 Max
These are great replies. Very helpful. I should mention that I had my VO2 Max measured about a year ago (at age 47) and it was 38.9. But I hesitate to mention it because I don't know if the guy did it right and I don't think I pushed myself hard enough. (It was at a local university with a health sciences program.)

My challenge is running. I'd say I'm a pretty strong swimmer and maybe even exceptional on the bike. But my running is often a plodding performance. My legs are very muscular (from decades of cycling and soccer) and I wonder if that's somehow a disadvantage on the run. I did an Olympic-distance race a few weeks ago and had a good swim, a screaming bike spilt, and then got passed by lots of people on the run.

All of these replies are helpful. I think I need to do more high intensity interval training, including at the track.
2016-08-14 7:08 PM
in reply to: halfironmike

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Subject: RE: VO2 Max
Originally posted by halfironmike

I'm trying to figure out how much I can do to increase VO2 Max. I've heard it's very difficult unless you train at altitude. I hate the idea that it's a fixed thing that I can't do much about. When I do group runs I am always the first to be winded and have trouble chatting with everyone. When I swim I pretty much need to take a breath every two stokes.

I've done some tough races (two HIMs and IMMT) but I don't have the speed I'd like to have and I think my lungs are sort of holding me back.

Any thoughts on this are welcome.


Swim more - mostly hard, sometimes easy
Bike more - mostly hard, sometimes easy
Run more - mostly easy, sometimes hard

Shane


2016-08-14 8:14 PM
in reply to: gsmacleod

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Subject: RE: VO2 Max
Originally posted by gsmacleod

Originally posted by halfironmike

I'm trying to figure out how much I can do to increase VO2 Max. I've heard it's very difficult unless you train at altitude. I hate the idea that it's a fixed thing that I can't do much about. When I do group runs I am always the first to be winded and have trouble chatting with everyone. When I swim I pretty much need to take a breath every two stokes.

I've done some tough races (two HIMs and IMMT) but I don't have the speed I'd like to have and I think my lungs are sort of holding me back.

Any thoughts on this are welcome.


Swim more - mostly hard, sometimes easy
Bike more - mostly hard, sometimes easy
Run more - mostly easy, sometimes hard

Shane


Yeah, THIS^^^^^^^^^^

Listen to Coach Shane-I would...and have in the past...
2016-08-14 9:50 PM
in reply to: halfironmike

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Subject: RE: VO2 Max

Originally posted by halfironmike I'm trying to figure out how much I can do to increase VO2 Max. I've heard it's very difficult unless you train at altitude. I hate the idea that it's a fixed thing that I can't do much about. When I do group runs I am always the first to be winded and have trouble chatting with everyone. When I swim I pretty much need to take a breath every two stokes. I've done some tough races (two HIMs and IMMT) but I don't have the speed I'd like to have and I think my lungs are sort of holding me back. Any thoughts on this are welcome.

Ummm?  No...you don't have to be at high altitude to increase your VO2 Max.  You also don't have in in crease your VO2 max to increase your sustainable race pace.  I read Dave Scotts 20 year old book on Triathlon Training at the begining of the summer and he had a lot of information on this stuff.  I am not an expert on it but basically your your intervol training is what trains increases your VO2 Max.  I ran track for the Univerisity of Wyoming at 7200 feet above sea level.  Out distance running coach had a PhD in altitude training and what I understand from him is that the benefit of altitude training in that you can stress your body (which is required for it to get stronger) at altitude with less pounding on your joints.  For example you may get an equivalent work out in 1 mile at altitude to 1.1 miles as see level.  If you are doing 70 miles a week at sea level you only would have to do 63 miles at altitude to get the same benefit and that 7 miles reduction in volume may mean the difference between staying healthy and getting over use injuries.  So elite athletes that and doing as many miles a week as their body can handle can do more at altitude.  Most people have do 6 hours a week with out any risk of over use.  Once you get past that your form becomes very important because if you are not in good form you can cause over use injuries.  Once you get over 20 hours a week...well even a Pro may be hitting their limits so if they can reduce their volume and still get the same work out (or get more out of the same volume) it is a huge advantage to them.  So....my track coach's advise was to get the same training on lower altitude to increase the volume.  He had equations for what volumes would be equivalent at different altitudes.  

Note:  I am from Oklahoma and went to College in Wyoming.  I Trained all summer in the hot muggy climate and then in the fall returned to the cool climate at high altitude. I always found it much easier to go from the hot humid climate to the cool high altitude climate than the other way around.  Yes...high altitude cause a thinning of your blood.  This transformation takes about 10 days to occur.  Heat causes the same thinning of your blood as altitude done over the same 10 day period.  So heat does caused the same physiological changes as altitude does.  Humidity does something to you too.  Vapor molecules are smaller than air molecules and it seems like it effects your respiratory system and breathing is some way.  I don't remember the details but look at runners that train in Humid climates compete against runner who train in dry climates.  Those that train in the humidity always seem to have the upper hand.  What else?  Sand runs....another training technique is sand runs.  My high school Cross Country team would go to a river bed that was usually very low by the end of the summer with some sand bars and would do our first two weeks of training as a team in the sand.  Running is sand does the same thing as running at altitude does.  It allows you to increase the stress on the body with out increasing the impact on the knees, joints etc.  So just like 70 miles at sea level is equivalent to 63 at a certain altitude 63 miles in the sand works out to be something like 70 miles on a solid surface.  

So...I am not a Phd in Altitude training and may not have a clue what I am talking about I am pretty sure you breathing problems have nothing to do with the altitude you are training at.  All the guys that run with you are at the same altitude so if you are breathing harder than they are you may have something similar to a sports educed asthma going on (I used to get wheezing attacks in high school from wind sprints so I could do short distance sprints, but the longer slower races (1600m +) I could run with not wheeze attacks).  You may have a deviated septum (I also have this which restricted my breathing).  You may have other things going on that may you different from the guys you are running with.  I grew out of my wheezing.  I was given an inhaler in high school even though the doctors didn't hear any asthma in my lungs.  I only used it for a few years.  I did a lot os slow miles and my heart and lungs got stronger.  The volume is what did it for me.  It wasn't an over night thing or even a 1-2 year thing, but lots of volume over lots of year did do it for me.  I can now do wind sprint with out wheezing attacks or hyper ventilating. 

2016-08-15 7:51 AM
in reply to: BlueBoy26

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Subject: RE: VO2 Max
???? Unless I am really confused, high altitude does NOT cause a thinning of your blood. The air is thin, but In fact, blood gets "thicker" due to greater number/higher concentration of red blood cells. In fact, high altitude mountaineers, even young, previously healthy ones, actually even Sherpas, who should be genetically adapted to high altitude, sometimes get blood clots and strokes for this reason when climbing at high altitude..

If training in heat/humidity caused an effect similar to altitude training, OMG, I would be winning Kona. Training in a very hot, humid climate, the body adapts by increasing blood volume, which in fact makes the blood thinner as the concentration of red blood cells is then lower. One can actually become functionally anemic--sadly common, particularly with women athletes. I really have to keep after my diet and take a supplement or my iron will get low enough to affect performance. Heat/humidity is a chronic stress on the system and, yes, it feels good to go train and race somewhere cool and dry, but I'm not sure how much of a training aid it actually is. It not only adds training stress, but also negatively affects things like recovery, appetite, and sleep. Long workouts or races in the heat sometimes leave me nauseous and unable to refuel properly for hours, for example, and sometimes it can be hard to sleep at night after getting overheated, especially after a race in tropical conditions. That can lead one vulnerable to illness and injury.

When I'm training here, I have to be MUCH more careful about managing intensity, cooling, hydration, and recovery, or workouts/paces that I could easily handle in a cooler climate will just dig me into a hole. Definitely, training in heat/humidity is a big advantage if you're going to compete there; if not, not so much. About all I can say in favor of training in enervating heat is that it probably develops mental toughness!
2016-08-15 9:01 AM
in reply to: halfironmike

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Subject: RE: VO2 Max

Your lungs are almost certainly not holding you back.  It's your legs.  Specifically the muscles in your legs that you are using for running.  Run more and your 'problem' will fix itself over time.

Also, if you are doing these group runs often where you find you can't chat with everyone, you may need a new group--or to run by yourself for awhile.  Slow down so that you can chat (within reason) with everyone for most of your running.

2016-08-15 11:28 AM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: VO2 Max

 

Well this is what the Wiki says on altitude training.  Yes if you can work at the same intensity at high altitude it is better for you, but if you are breathing hard at a given intensity at low altitude you will be breathing harder at high altitude.  Yes...slow things down on slow days if you are breathing hard and run harder on speed work days to increase the VO2 Max.



Edited by BlueBoy26 2016-08-15 11:28 AM


2016-08-15 12:30 PM
in reply to: halfironmike

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Subject: RE: VO2 Max

My challenge is running. I'd say I'm a pretty strong swimmer and maybe even exceptional on the bike. But my running is often a plodding performance. My legs are very muscular (from decades of cycling and soccer) and I wonder if that's somehow a disadvantage on the run. I did an Olympic-distance race a few weeks ago and had a good swim, a screaming bike spilt, and then got passed by lots of people on the run.


Do you mean your stand-alone run speed or your triathlon run speed?

Often people's triathlon run speed is hampered more by how hard they push on the bike during the tri, rather than their actual base run fitness.
2016-08-15 12:36 PM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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Subject: RE: VO2 Max
Originally posted by Hot Runner
I seriously don't understand how the Garmin figures out Vo2 max. Every once in a while I'll do a bike workout and it (Edge 520) will announce, "New VO2 Max" and give me some number. I train with power so I would assume it is doing something with power and/or heart rate?? But sometimes it doesn't seem like it was really that hard a workout!


I don't get it either. I only use mine for running so it's using HR and pace, but I don't really get the algorithm. But it seems that it doesn't depend on how hard the run is, but it's using some sort of pace vs HR parameters. Still-- at best it's probably closer to VDot and not VO2max.
2016-08-15 4:16 PM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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Subject: RE: VO2 Max
Originally posted by Hot Runner

???? Unless I am really confused, high altitude does NOT cause a thinning of your blood. The air is thin, but In fact, blood gets "thicker" due to greater number/higher concentration of red blood cells. In fact, high altitude mountaineers, even young, previously healthy ones, actually even Sherpas, who should be genetically adapted to high altitude, sometimes get blood clots and strokes for this reason when climbing at high altitude..



altitude increases the number of red blood cells, but also increases your circulatory volume to help get those red cells around, so if well hydrate, you can actually have a lower hematocrit despite having more red blood cells.
2016-08-15 4:33 PM
in reply to: AdventureBear

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Subject: RE: VO2 Max
Originally posted by AdventureBear

Originally posted by Hot Runner

???? Unless I am really confused, high altitude does NOT cause a thinning of your blood. The air is thin, but In fact, blood gets "thicker" due to greater number/higher concentration of red blood cells. In fact, high altitude mountaineers, even young, previously healthy ones, actually even Sherpas, who should be genetically adapted to high altitude, sometimes get blood clots and strokes for this reason when climbing at high altitude..



altitude increases the number of red blood cells, but also increases your circulatory volume to help get those red cells around, so if well hydrate, you can actually have a lower hematocrit despite having more red blood cells.


And we won't even talk about 2-3 DPG and hemoglobin saturation curves and cool physiological stuff like that!

http://www.altitude.org/haemoglobin.php

*(And none of this has anything to do with v02max...)
2016-08-15 7:15 PM
in reply to: jennifer_runs

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Subject: RE: VO2 Max
Originally posted by jennifer_runs


Do you mean your stand-alone run speed or your triathlon run speed?

Often people's triathlon run speed is hampered more by how hard they push on the bike during the tri, rather than their actual base run fitness.


It doesn't matter if I'm in a race or not. A lot of good runners my age (48) can run 7-minute miles for a 10K. I'd be lucky to be at 8:10 per mile in a 10K. Maybe I just need to push myself harder or -- as suggested earlier -- do more base mile training and add some fast intervals to build fitness. The good news is that I'm healthy and strong (no injuries for over a year and no asthma or anything) so I mostly just need to work on this.


2016-08-15 7:32 PM
in reply to: halfironmike

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Subject: RE: VO2 Max
Originally posted by halfironmike

Originally posted by jennifer_runs


Do you mean your stand-alone run speed or your triathlon run speed?

Often people's triathlon run speed is hampered more by how hard they push on the bike during the tri, rather than their actual base run fitness.


It doesn't matter if I'm in a race or not. A lot of good runners my age (48) can run 7-minute miles for a 10K. I'd be lucky to be at 8:10 per mile in a 10K. Maybe I just need to push myself harder or -- as suggested earlier -- do more base mile training and add some fast intervals to build fitness. The good news is that I'm healthy and strong (no injuries for over a year and no asthma or anything) so I mostly just need to work on this.



Google BarryP 321 - do that for six months and then worry about speed.

Shane
2016-08-15 7:44 PM
in reply to: halfironmike

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Subject: RE: VO2 Max
Originally posted by halfironmike

Originally posted by jennifer_runs


Do you mean your stand-alone run speed or your triathlon run speed?

Often people's triathlon run speed is hampered more by how hard they push on the bike during the tri, rather than their actual base run fitness.


It doesn't matter if I'm in a race or not. A lot of good runners my age (48) can run 7-minute miles for a 10K. I'd be lucky to be at 8:10 per mile in a 10K. Maybe I just need to push myself harder or -- as suggested earlier -- do more base mile training and add some fast intervals to build fitness. The good news is that I'm healthy and strong (no injuries for over a year and no asthma or anything) so I mostly just need to work on this.



A lot of good runners in their late 40's have thousands of miles on their legs cumulatively. Hence, Coach Shane's suggestion-run more, sometimes fast, mostly easy. You will increase your aerobic capacity and be faster at all speeds with volume training, and that takes time and patience. The right timing and dose of faster training is cause for an entirely longer thread. But there are % of weekly mileages that can be used to guide pace and amount, based on race times. Use Jack Daniel's vdot. Very helpful and informative.

Vo2max sessions in running are very fast 4-5 minutes of hard running that is extremely hard. Gut-wrenching, make you want to puke hard. This type of 'speed sharpening' is useful for shorter races, but not all that helpful in long distance triathlon or HM/M racing. You will risk getting injured pushing yourself harder unless you know how and when to do it. Tempo runs are much easier/safer and will still give a lot of impact in terms of performance. And don't discount just running often-even at a slow pace. You can improve lots, even when running very slow, if you do it a lot.

I'm now ~55 and when I did a lot of run training for M races in my 40's, I could knock off 10K's at 43-44 minutes easy. I was knocking at the door of 40 minutes for a while. But when the consistent running went down from 40-50 mpw to my now 20ish/week with tri-training, my run times have fallen way off at 10K and up.

*Note that equivalent times using vdot is dependent on actually putting the time in to training, getting volume and multipace training in consistently for a considerable time.

A run block focus is always something that can be done in the winter while doing indoor cycling and working on FTP with shorter/harder indoor rides and occasional swims to work on form. Ramp the mileage and do some solid tempo runs and your 10K times will fall, for sure.
2016-08-16 12:31 AM
in reply to: dtoce

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Subject: RE: VO2 Max
Originally posted by dtoce

Originally posted by AdventureBear

Originally posted by Hot Runner

???? Unless I am really confused, high altitude does NOT cause a thinning of your blood. The air is thin, but In fact, blood gets "thicker" due to greater number/higher concentration of red blood cells. In fact, high altitude mountaineers, even young, previously healthy ones, actually even Sherpas, who should be genetically adapted to high altitude, sometimes get blood clots and strokes for this reason when climbing at high altitude..



altitude increases the number of red blood cells, but also increases your circulatory volume to help get those red cells around, so if well hydrate, you can actually have a lower hematocrit despite having more red blood cells.


And we won't even talk about 2-3 DPG and hemoglobin saturation curves and cool physiological stuff like that!

http://www.altitude.org/haemoglobin.php

*(And none of this has anything to do with v02max...)


Oh you went there!! ... "oxyhemoglobin desaturation" is a great party word to throw around as well...
2016-08-16 7:59 AM
in reply to: halfironmike

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Subject: RE: VO2 Max
I don't mean to be rude in any way, but did you ever consider the fact that you might not be a good runner? I am not. No matter how much work I put into it, I would never run 7 min/mile 10K. I think in my case it's a simple matter of mechanics.
So I'm wondering why you are comparing yourself to others that have only age in common. Maybe they ARE good runners.
There are people that are good at math. People that are good at cooking. People that can public speak. ETC. But people that aren't good at those activities don't usually strive to be. Seems very different with running.

But...to your VO2 topic. That number seems VERY low. I had mine thoroughly tested at a research facility and it came out to 74.3. (they actually made me run the test again to be sure. Then again on a bike. All the same)
What I understand about VO2 max is that it is almost never the limiting factor, but the "cap" of where the rest of your body can perform. As said before, your bigger leg muscles are using a lot of O2, therefore tiring you out quicker.
I wouldn't dwell much on VO2. Mine is very high yet I bet just about anyone on here could beat me in a race.
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