improving vo2 max

Hello there, I hope some of you may be able to help me. I've been running for about five weeks now. The course I run is two miles long, and consists of two hills, one of which isn't too bad and is at the beginning of the course but is enough to make me puff(!!!) and as a result I have to slow down to recover. After a couple of minutes I pick up again, and run to the one mile mark in twelve mins! I turn around and run almost to the end but have to conquer the other hill which is very steep and if I do manage to run to the top, I have to walk home. The thing is, I'm also looking to improve my vo2 max, as I have a fitness test in five weeks time which includes a "beep" test. I have to get up to level 8. Would it therefore be a good idea to leave out the hills, and concentrate on speed intervals on the flat? I understand hill work is very good at conditioning the heart and lungs, but at present I do struggle, and given a flat surface I perform quite well. Any advice or suggestions would be very much appreciated. Thankyou very much


  • drewdrew ✭✭✭
    Teresa, hills are a great way to improve your VO2max. They are also less likely to result in injuries than speed work on the flat.

    A couple of comments:

    1. You should be having a warm up for between 5 & 10 minutes. Doing a hard hill effort right at the start of your run is not a good idea (no wonder your puffed!)

    2. You could take it easy going out to the turn and if you have to walk up the first hill to avoid being puffed then that's ok. Run as fast as you can back home and if you have to walk home after the hill, that ok.

    If you do this for another 4 weeks then you should notice a major improvement in your breathing and fitness.

    After you've done your bleep test you could then start to increase the length of your run gradually, if you want to continue running.
  • Teresa,

    You mention that you have to take a beep test, have you ever done one of these or know what it entails.

    To do well in these you also need to be able to change direction efficiently so you may want to try practicing the turns. The type of turn may also change so if you can find out how it the test is to be run it would be in your favour.
  • Teresa

    As someone who does a tremendous amount of hill running I can testify to the benefits particularly for the purpose you have in mind.

    When on really steep hills try reducing stride length but maintain leg speed (i.e. so moving forward more slowly) in much the same way as you would do with cycling (by changing down a gear). Also, try being a bit more vigorous with your arms.
  • hi, you could buy a copy of the beep test from this web site, then you could practice in a more real life way..

    good luck with that
  • Thankyou all very much for your help. Yes Keith, I bought my own beep test (a cassette), measured out 20 metres, and had a bit of a bash at it at the level 4 I'd had enough!!! The actual test I will take will be done in a gym, whereas I'm plodding up and down my lawn (in need of a good cut) which isn't completely flat. I haven't really got anywhere else that I can do the test, but my thinking is that if I can do my slightly more difficult version, then I'll have no trouble doing it for real. (mmm...thats the theory anyway!) I suppose I'm going to have to stick with the hills (DAMN) as you guys have advised, but I do get disheartened sometimes when my lungs feel like they're going to burst...I just hope it gets easier. By the time I'd reached the top of the easier hill on yesterday's run, my heart rate monitor read at 85%. Is this too much? Anyway thank you all again
  • Hi Teresa,

    If you don't fancy the hills another way to improve your VO2 Max is to do something like 3 minute intervals. You alternate between jogging for 3 minutes and running as fast as you can manage for 3 minutes and repeat as many times as you feel able.

    If 3 minute efforts are too much then try 2 minutes or 1-and-a-half minute intervals. The idea is to keep moving between efforts, but you can take those rests as slow as you like.

    The terrain isn't important and in fact if you're doing this you're probably better off not doing it up and down hills, at least to start with, as it's a very tiring session in itself.

    You'll really hate your stopwatch by the end of it ("What? 3 minutes? That was NEVER 3 minutes rest! ;-) but it'll do your running the power of good.


  • Forgot to say - that counts as a hard session (!) so you probably don't want to do it more than once a week and you need a good easy/rest day afterwards.

  • And just to clarify - I said run "as fast as you can manage" for the efforts, which is true in that you should be pushing yourself.

    That said, the idea is to maintain a constant pace throughout each effort and, ideally, to run each effort at the same pace (although you'll most likely slow down towards the end of the session).

    So it's no good racing off at the start of an effort at a pace you can only maintain for a few seconds - fast but constant pace throughout each effort is the idea.


  • Thanks for that helpful advice Dave. I am going to try a mixture of all the great advise I've been given by all of you (many thanks), I did try some interval work two days ago, and as you've pointed out Dave, I started out far too fast and couldn't maintain that pace for the other reps!! I'll let you know how I get on. Thanks again.....Teresa
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