Q&A: Tracking VO2 max + Using a 12 day Microcycle

Posted by Scott Christensen


One of the benefits of Scott Christensen’s ‘Preparing the Elite Junior Middle Distance Runner 800/1600’ is the opportunity to get answers to your training questions when you have them.

Here are a couple of good ones for you to think about:

Jason S.: How do you figure an athletes VO2 Max, and how do you keep track of this while you rain, so you know you are training him/her in the proper zone?

Scott Christensen: Hi Jason. VO2 max is considered a “date pace”  for athlete and coach. It is their ability to utilize max oxygen TODAY with the fitness level the athlete has TODAY. So forget any history on your athlete. It can be tested in the lab by a physiologist. It can also be tested by a coach using the Astrand Test. That is 3200 meter time TODAY at exhaustive pace. It should change weekly as the athlete’s fitness improves. You can either do a 3200 test (race) or run a mile, or run a 5K, or even an 800 meter race and then cross-reference using comparable effort values. The Jack Daniels VDOT tables in Running Formula are great. Other VO2 max tables can just be pulled off the internet. That way you do not have to run a 3200 test every week, but you have the same (approx) VO2 max value from a different race comparison.

If you want more information about V02 max training with your middle distance runners, you want:

Scott Christensen’s ‘Preparing the Elite Junior Middle Distance Runner (800/1600)

 Erik C.: I’m curious about the number of sessions per 12 day microcycle for each type of workout (i.e. special endurance 1, 2, speed, VO2max.,etc) and how that differs from pre-competitive, competitive, and peak phases. More specifically, does the 12 day microcycle change dramatically through the different training phases of a macrocycle? Erik Cross Also, how much and what kind of anaerobic training would you recommend for November-end of January getting ready for Track?

Scott Christensen: Hi Erik: I recommend the 12 day training cycle in order to get everything done that needs to be done. The 800/1600 is an event group that has the highest number of training components in order to cover the aerobic and anerobic development that is needed. 3200 ruuners for example should do two VO2 max workouts per 12 day cycle. 800 meter runners should only do one VO2 max effort. Differences like that exist in the training models between events.

Special endurance 1 and special endurance 2 in the 800/1600 group should each be done twice per cycle. Hills (strength runs) should occur early in your training season and after four 12 day cycles, that second special endurance 1 can take the place of hills. During peak, keep the 12 day cycles alive, but change to “capacity” type repetition runs instead of “efficiency” type interval runs. In others words do less total repeats, triple the rest, and do them faster. That draws the peak.

If you want more information on why using a 12 day microcycle is the most effective method for developing your middle distance runners, you’re looking for:

Scott Christensen’s ‘Preparing the Elite Junior Middle Distance Runner (800/1600)

To your success,

Latif Thomas


Scott Christensen - Scott Christensen’s teams have been ranked in the national top 10 eight times. He won the 1997 High School National Championship and his squads have captured multiple Minnesota State Championships. Scott has coached 13 Minnesota State Championship-winning teams and 27 individual Minnesota State Champions. He was the USTFCCCA Endurance Specialist School junior team leader for the World Cross Country Team in 2003 and the senior team leader in 2008. Scott is a 14-year USATF Level II endurance lead instructor.

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