Speedwork or VO2 max ?


I have a current 10k time of 55 minutes and I'm in training for the Helsby 1/2 marathon using this schedule. However, I'm a bit preplexed as to what speed I should be doing the speed sessions at.

For threshold training I've been using this article because it contains a usefule table showing different training speeds based upon your current 10K time. My problem is that in the article, Amby Burfoot asserts that I shouldn't be doing speedwork at all - I should instead be doing VO2-Max work. So the table doesn't give any figures for speedwork.

Can anyone give me any guidance ?

thanks in anticipation,


  • Mikey,

    I'm no expert, but have been running a few years and have used the article by Amby Burfoot to tailor my training.

    VO2 - Max work IS speedwork. So instead of running at the 4 x 800m at 5K speed(or whatever speed is recomended on the schedule), run at your VO2 max (as indicated by your 10K time) for 4 x 800M.

    It's quite tough, so don't really need to do more than once a week (if doing other speed sessions during the week).

    The article was saying that there are three important runs that you should try and fit into your training. The RW schedule encompasses these but the Burfoot article gives you a more better gauge as to what speed you should do them.

    One word of caution. It's probably worth checking your 10K time half way through the training schedule. It may have dramatically improved and you can then readjust VO2 max and lactate threshold runs accordingly.

    Hope this helps

  • Mikey,

    Don't know if I mad it clear that you substitute one of the speed/interval sessions in the training plan for an interval session run at VO2 MAX pace. Don't add it in as an extra session. You may overtrain and exhaust yourself.

  • I agree with KP - speed work will increase VO2 Max.

    I used to do it with intervals of 2 minutes at a faster pace on the treadmill, followed by 2 minutes at recovery pace, but there are all sorts of possibilities that should work.

    Basically just push yourself past the point of being comfortable. Gradually your body will get used to it so that you can recover quicker.
  • Yes, the whole point of the Burfoot artice is that you should do your some of your speed-work at or around your VO2 Max pace (as estimated in his table from current 10K pace).

    Also do some of your training at or around your lactate threshold pace- and don't forget recover runs (these can feel very slow, but they need to be).

    Just taking some of the gueswork out of what pace to run at for the different types of runs to get maximum training benefit.
  • Cheers KP and Iain,

    thanks for your advice. I'm following Amby Burfoot's table but with (hopefully) better figures based upon my 5k and 10k race paces amd all's well so far!

    Thanks for the input and apologies for not replying earlier.

  • MikeB,
    I never really took much notice of the coaches in my old club and avoided the sessions, preferring to run hard for as long as I could round the streets with other members. However, since moving and joining a new club and doing the sessions and other training properly, I've just knocked 1:30 off my 10k PB. I had actually been slowing down over the past year or so! The reason : I was training far too hard, constantly aching, getting fatigued and basically doing myself no favours. Now, I'm training better, I never feel tired or ache, look forward to my runs and just feel great. So take note of all this Vo2max, LT and RE stuff as it does work. If you haven't got access to a measured track log onto streetmap.co.uk and print out the map of your area at 500m scale and just choose a quiet road of the right length. Then just time yourself. Good luck with your next race.

  • David,

    thanks for the input. I'm doing as Amby Burfoot recommends - training using figures from his table based upon my 10K time. I've already seen a real improvement: yesterday I did a 10K training run 3:42 minutes faster than my previous PB so I'll definitely be continuing with it. Not that my old PB was much to write home about!

    Six weeks to go!


  • Mikey,

    Keep us up-to-date on your progress.

    It's great when you first start off down the "proper" training route because there is so much improvement that can be made. I'm kind of envious in a way because I am never going to see those jumps in perfomance again.

    I put any "success" I have had down to the training sessions you are now using.

    Good luck.

  • KP,

    You said I should keep you up-to-date on progress. Thanks.

    I've been continuing with the schedule and today's specified run was a 10 mile time-trial, so I entered the Stockport 10.

    The target time was 90 minutes bit I managed it in 85, so I was well chuffed with that. I'm certain that I wouldn't have achieved that without the speed training.

    So, bring on the four villages half! Actually, I have another 6 weeks of (hopefully) productive training before that!

    Thanks to all for the encouragement.

  • Is there a good book on all this stuff that I can get someone to buy me for Xmas?

  • Popsider,

    my $0.02

    there are a number of books out there, but I have to say that *my* main source of guidance has been this web site.

    Furthermore, my main source of inspiration has been the various forums hosted here.

    On today's (cold) expericence, when it comes to christmas presents, I'd say give books a miss, use the web and recommend £25 or so on a good baselayer. I'm currently using a £35 helly hanson.

  • That should have read £25 H.H base layer
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