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FAQ: VO2 Max
This chart is alarming to me. Either this chart is way off, or I have no idea what I am doing. I am a 37 year old male with a recently tested VO2max of 55.8. Other variables tested are; PMHR of 206 BPM, LT of 169 BPM, AeT of 139 BPM and LT calorie burn of 1169. Based on the calculator above, I should be able to run an 18 minute 5K and 1:23 half. I can’t get anywhere near that, and I have been running for several years. The best I have attained as an adult is a 22:15 5K, and my half times are off the chart pace even more. Ironically, I can also run a 60 sec 400 meter, which is better than that above. I seem to have a great deal of trouble with overheating and dehydration. I have tried all the tricks from hydration to salt loading to pickle juice. They help, but it seems that I produce a ton of waste heat that my body struggles with. High intensity workouts leave me lethargic and fatigued for several days. I am trying to figure out the path which will get me closer to the predicted times on this calculator. Any thoughts?
You have described a very interesting set of personal circumstances but nowhere do you mention how much training you are doing. With your 400m abilities, Yasso 800′s at 2’45” would be easily achievable, yet you describe your half marathon time as being exceptionally poor. With the correct training I have every faith that you are capable of running 1h23′ for a half marathon and should be able to dip under three hours over 26 miles!!!
there are several variables to consider that are extremely relevant which should be included in the analysis with the largest factor being weight..I recently had a VO2 test at a local college…I am a 50 year old male with a MHR at 180 BPM which was tested at 52 Vo2 capacity with a LT of 168 BPM…According to the VO2 conversion chart, I should be able to run near a 3 Hour marathon…No Fing way am I running near a 3 hour marathon or a 3:30 for that matter…The culprit?…I also weigh 182 pounds and am 6’1″…and no I am not fat (11% Body fat analysis)…Thus I would ask what is your weight ?…I would imagine the analysis above assumes a body weight of lot less near 180 (155-165 perhaps?)…
These numbers are guidelines for what you can do under optimum conditions. And people are different. You may just have the genetic make-up of a sprinter and be full of fast twitch muscles. You just may not be an efficient distance runner.
I could never achieve what my VO2 said my marathon or 5 miles could be, but I could hit my numbers between 15K and half marathon and 5K and under.
You say you can beat your predicted quarter mile times, but what kind of workouts do you do for your 5Ks? Are you doing mile repeats and five mile runs with three miles of tempo. For your half marathon times are you doing weekend long runs in the 15 mile range?
I laugh at the VO2 numbers I get from workout equipment, my treadmill gives me a a VO2 reading in the 70s and the elliptical at the gym would consistently give me 58-60. The best way to use this calculator is to take a recent race to determine your VO2 max and then use that to gauge what similar performances would be.
A 37 year old male with a 22:15 5K has a VO2 max of 44.0 and that translates to a half marathon of 1:42:12, is that more in line?
Bottom line is running is for fun and being fit, being out with people. Times are nice, but they shouldn’t stress you.
I generally agree with what Todd said. I find it interesting that Todd hit his predicted VO2 max times under 5K. For me, my actual race times at under 5K are almost always faster than the predicted times, because I do speed work (400s, 800s) if I am preparing for these shorter distances. Genetic speed endowment likely plays a role, too. My other race times (10K, 1/2 marathon, marathon) are pretty close to the prediction.
I agree with the sentiment that VO2 max times in themselves should be taken with plenty of salt, especially if not cross-checked with actual race times. Furthermore, VO2 max (as you may know) measures the maximum amount of oxygen uptake, not the performance of a runner. Good runners have a high VO2 max, but having a high VO2 max does not necessarily mean a good runner. As Dan said, one’s body build can play a significant role.
I too feel that race predictors are overoptimistic for 1/2 marathon and marathon times based on my own experience
but I think the reason is to do with the fact that most runners train at 10km levels most of the time then occasionally extend to a longer race. As a result they are not fully trained up to the longer distance
In my case I am usually slower than the prediction by 15 mins for a 1/2 marathon and around 30 mins for a marathon
I think if I did an extended period of marathon training say 12 months and did 3 races over that time I would get close to the marathon predicted times without my 10km time getting any quicker
I did a 10km in Jan 2010 at 66 mins (age 64) with no training in the previous 12 months
I did the 2011 London Marathon with only moderate training in 6h 20
I am an ex smoker and started taking up running seriously this year to keep me out of smoking. I have been on a personal quest to improve my V02MAX to clear up my lungs from almost 35 years of smoking. I must say this calculator is quite accurate compared to other sites. I entered a V02MAX of 39 which is what I got from another calculator that is based on distance & race time parameters., i am 49 years old male, 5’4″ & 138 lbs. The race time predicted is AMAZINGLY so close to my PRs on 5K @ 24:48, 10K @ 50:16 and Half Marathon @ 1:57:39 I am on my 3rd cycle of High Intensity Interval workouts 10 x 400 @ 7:30m/mile with 30 sec- 1 min recovery. I have seen a jump on my aerobic capacity to sustain an increased pace for a longer duration. As my threshold increases, i plan to gradually increase the intensity. (length & pace). I also use an ULTRA BREATH breathing exerciser to compliment my training.
Don’t have much to add here that hasn’t already been said – except to reiterate that these race times are “idealized”. If you read Jack Daniels’ book where he goes in-depth about this stuff (VO2 Max and associated race values) you are talking about a very narrow set of requirements that include you being at an ideal weight, having trained for a specific race, etc. As an example of what I’m talking about — say you trained for and ran a 5K race in 20:00. According to that race result, your VO2 Max is around 49.8 and your predicted marathon time would be 3:11:18. Trust me when I say that if you went out and tried to run a marathon a week later, without training for it, you would not be able to run a 3:11:18 marathon. All that to say – specificity of training is VERY important AND there are a lot of factors at work. Rather than being disappointed if you aren’t running times that your specific VO2 Max suggests you should be; you should be excited because that means you have the potential to run those times and you have room to improve from where you are.
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I have to admit that I agree with calculations. I’m 50 years old female. Last year my VO2 was 33, and my Half was predicted to be 02:10:32. I trained for 8 weeks for the Half and I finished it with 02:10 timing. This year, I didn’t train for my Half long enough and my timing was 02:46 – 36 minutes longer!
I guess I’ve never tried to train, not true, A few months before I turned 60 I did a Bruce Treadmill test that said I have a VO2 max of 55.1. Even when I was taking my running and training very serious in my 40′s I couldn’t come close to the times your chart says I should be able to run now at 60. I know I live and do all my races above 5,000 feet and perhaps that has a small part to my times but not the drastic difference I see on your chart.
I’m a 66 year old male. My VO2 max is 39. I ran a 5k last Saturday in 24:31 which is about right. I will be running a marathon this Sunday but from my prep I know I will be nowhere near the 3:54 in the chart (don’t I wish!). I will be very happy with a 4:20 which is about 1:00 slower than the chart. I have trained for five months including 9 5k’s and long runs up to 30 miles. I have run two marathons in the past two years and have a good idea from them and the long runs of my capabilities. I hope to see a steady improvement.
I think your training may help account for the difference. I wouldn’t recommend running a 5k a week before a marathon as it will tire your legs and significantly increase risk of injury. You should focus your training on a long run on Sundays, and mostly easy runs other than that.
Also, runs more than 20 miles is counterproductive. It may be a good idea to drop your longest runs to 20 miles and only do that twice before tapering down to your race.
The BAA (Boston athletic association has some good marathon training schedules that are worth checking out.
So according to the charts my VO2 max is around 55. I am 6’2 and weigh 205 pounds all of the numbers are about accurate except for everything over a marathon. Is my Vo2 max higher than that in reality? I dont know anyone that is as big and fast as me at the same time.
I wouldn’t be too concerned if the numbers are “accurate except for everything over a marathon.” For longer races (including the marathon), overall stamina plays an increasingly larger role compared to VO2 max. Raw speed can definitely help when combined with that stamina, however, to which the near-2hr marathoners can attest.
If your numbers are accurate as you say for everything marathon and under, they’re probably a good indicator of your true VO2 max, although a laboratory test is really the best way to determine the number.
“Is my Vo2 max higher than that in reality? I dont know anyone that is as big and fast as me at the same time.”
Your relative V02 is indicated as 55 ml/(kg*min). The absolute amount of oxygen that you use is 55 * ml/(kg*min) multiplied with your weight of 92kg = 55 * 92 ml/min = 5.1 l/min.
An absolute VO2 over 5 liters per minute is good. An eliter runner might end up at 4.5 liters only. You should try out endurance sports where weight is not such an important factor in performance. Rowing, canoeing, long distance swimming, where you dont have to carry your weight and too some extent also cross country skiing might suite you. Your VO2max depends on and differs between sports. Maybe it will be even higher in some and lower in some. Top level performers in these sports have 6liters VO2max or more.
Relative VO2max is a running and cycling performance predictor but a bad indicator of aerobic performance in other sports and also a bad indicator of general arobic fitness. The latter is better determined by the formula Absolute VO2max / (weight)^(2/3) which of course correlates with relative VO2max, but number crunching is seldom useful. Why dont you try out some non weight carrying endurance sports and see how it goes.
Is this Conversion site correct? Assuming the same VO2 max, Regardless of the age I input, I get the same results????
Athletes “A” and “B” can both run 5K (same conditions) in 27 minutes and if “A” weighs twice as much as “B”, seems to me “A” would have to be fitter and therefore have a higher VO2Max than “B”. Is this correct and, if so, is there a calculator somewhere which derives VO2Max from distance, time and bodyweight ?
The units on VO2Max are mL O2 consumption per kg per minute. So it already accounts for body mass, and “A” is not necessarily fitter than “B” in terms of running. Their identical race times indicates identical VO2Max. Since “A” weighs twice as much, however, it implies that he/she takes in twice as much oxygen, however.
I have read that some athletes such as rowers have huge oxygen consumption capacities (it takes a lot of oxygen and huge muscles to be a good rower!), but their actual VO2Max values are often only average or good because of their higher body masses.
In some sense, “A” may be fitter than “B”–”A” can probably bench press a lot more and still run as fast as “B”!
Sorry Justin, I should have posted my followup reply by clicking “Reply” like this. Going senile LOL
Thanks for your kind response Justin. It appears VO2Max is not the “universal” (cross-sport) measure of aerobic ability I was seeking.
I believe the “degree of ability” to convert oxygen into work is crucial to health and this can be much improved by exercise and healthy lifestyles.
A simple unit of measure for “aerobic ability” would allow me and my dear wife (for example) to compare and encourage each other even though we exercise differently and do not weigh the same etc. etc.
Probably not thoughts for a runner’s website but thanks again for such an interesting and informative forum.
Best regards, Ian
Aah, perhaps this is what I’m after…
In order to go from absolute to relative vo2max, simply multiply your absolute vo2max * 1000 (to get mL) then divide by mass (kg)
absolute vo2max = 4.0L/m
weight = 75kg
relative vo2max = (4.0 * 1000) / 75 = 53.3 ml/min/kg
extract from – http://www.cyclingforums.com/t/475262/vo2-max-and-bodyweight
VO2Max calculators using distance and run-time only might be using the same arbitory bodyweight for eveyone? If I knew what weight they use I could factor it out and factor in my actual weight to get a more accurate relative VO2Max.
…nope, I’m wrong because that would make the heavier runner seem less capable. I give up. LOL
I don’t know but it seems to be that the guys in their 50s posting 50, 55 vo2max without training, and saying they can’t run the predicted times … yes, training is going to make a big difference in run times. But also, your Vo2max testing may have been off, especially if it was based on tables and did not include actual respirator breathing apparatus. Because one you are getting up there into the high 50s, 60s you are looking at very high levels of fitness approaching elite. And without a lot training it’s unlikely that’s you, especially at that age. Most likely that number is wrong, IMO.
This is an interesting conversation. I agree with the comments that it boils down to specificity of the race you are training for. That said, it looks like some of the posts here are trying to use their 5k time to predict a marathon. Well, if you’ve been training for 5k and not doing many miles, you simply are not going to be able to match the table.
However, I think the reverse can be true. For example, to use my own experience – In 2002, I ran Boston Marathon in around 2:51: 30. A few weeks after that, I ran a 5 k in 17:17. I had marathon training in my legs (50 to 60 mile weeks). This translated into a fast 5k time. (I did not train specifically for 5k at all)
Basically, If you are doing lots and lots of miles (50 to 60 per week, including a 20 mile long run) that is probably going to translate into fast times over a range of distances from 5k to marathon. Then specificity of training would help produce even better results for a particular distance being focused on.
Wow, according to your tables I should be a rock star but I’m not even close. I’m a 63 yr old male who does mostly longer distance triathlon. I do race 6 to 8 road races every year and average about 40 to 45 miles a week year round. In April of 2012 I had heart bypass surgery. I had been training for the Boston marathon and setting PR’s just prior (adult PR’s). Three months after surgery I had my vo2 max tested and it was 46.3. On your table this comes pretty close to matching my best times for the 5k, 10k, half marathon but I’m a little slower than the marathon predicted time. A year later (this past July) I had my vo2 tested again at the same lab and it tested this time at 57.8. Now, when I plug that into your table I should be a world beater. If I could run those times I would have finished first at this past Boston marathon. I was some 48 minutes slower in 98th place. Any thoughts?
Interesting VO2 max results, indeed. I am extremely skeptical about the accuracy of at least your second VO2 max result of 57.8. I somewhat doubt anyone–except, perhaps, somebody going from puberty to adulthood–could go from a 46.3 to a 57.8 on just one year’s worth of solid training. Plus, VO2 max declines a percent or two per year with age, assuming fitness is simply maintained, after peaking in one’s twenties. I’m 28 and have worked up from maybe forty-something in high school to the mid 60s now, according to my race times (10 K, 1/2 marathon, marathon).
What I neglected to say was the first vo2 test was done 3 months post op with very little training. I was still recovering from surgery. The second test was a year later (15months post op) and was probably a more accurate vo2 max test. These tests were both done in the same lab by the same technician. I’ll probably do the test again this summer.
What I was more interested in is the question about why my race times don’t seem to match up with your predicted times. I know that training has a big impact.
Interesting discussion, for reference I had my VO2 Max tested on the treadmill the other day, it resulted in 56.1 and I am 35
Im at the start of my marathon training and probably at 80% fitness (park run 5k times are around 18:10 and PB on same course is 17:26) but the prediction table puts my 5k time at 18:04, my 10k time at 37:27 when my PB is 36:14 and Half Marathon time at 1:22 with my PB at 1:19…….however my marathon time is predicted as 2:53 and my pb is 3:03.
Any test is subject to variation.
It is obvious that your VO2 max is higher than the treadmill test indicated.
This true if you have several races at different distances to go by.
If you forget the treadmill test, how did the rations stack up?
I bet they were pretty close.
If you are only at 80% you are very talented and can expect some great times in the future.
Having the proper weight really helps your race times.
Remember VO2 max is not a fixed number. It can be improved with speedwork and weight control.
To max your VO2 max you must do speed work as many times a week as your body can stand it.
The optimum is 15 to 20 minutes of max breathing as many times as you can.
That hard breathing does not necessary have to come all from running.
I see some 16 minute 5 Ks in your future!
Ok.. I’ve looked at the table and did a little additional research on the matter…First off, this table was obtained from research Jack Daniels did for thousand of runners that he has trained…He has tested thousand of runners and performed a correlation between their running times and their VO2 max…the table represents an average..you can find the table in his marathon books (Daniels Running Formula)
Second, the VO2 results and predicted running times are an average..As such, some people running times will be better than predicted and some will be worse.
Third, I’m not definitely sure, but I believe most of the runners that tested were running 50-100 miles per week..As such, if you are not running anywhere near this mileage, this prediction table is probably useless.
Finally, genetics plays a huge role in this the prediction times in terms of “training specificity” Specifically, what aerobic muscles are you exercising? a perfect example is myself.. In high school, I use to be able to run quarter miles at a 1:15 pace and also do a mile around 5:45…However, I had no upper body aerobic strength…In college, I began swimming for fitness and after months of swimming I was able to perfect the swim stroke and develop upper body aerobic strength…But guess what ??? in the process I lost all my running speed…Basically genetics traded away some of my aerobic/anaerobic strength in my legs for some in my upper body….
I am currently 52..I run 6 days a week averaging 55-65 miles with two weekly tempo runs, and capped with a long run of 16-20 miles every weekend..I also supplement my running with a weekly workout on the rowing machine or a mile swim…I had my VO2 tested every year for the last three years..It averaged around a 51…According to the VO 2 tables, I should be able to run a sub 3:10 marathon…In reality not even close..I can’t even do a 3:30 marathon let alone a 3:10….
However, a running coach informed me that if I were to completely give up any upper body aerobic/anaerobic training, I should see some drastic improvement in my running times after 3 months if I continue to keep up my running schedule…On this matter, this would be a tough decision, since I am hesitant (too vain) to lose the upper body strength I currently have…But at least I know why my VO2 fitness has not even come close to predicting my running times…
Awesome that you’re rocking the running regimen at 52! I hope to do so as well.
How much does a VO2 max test cost? I’m curious about getting mine done.
As to the running coach’s advice, I would consider your body weight before your upper body fitness in determining whether to cut back on upper body training. Giving it up altogether is foolish in my opinion (2:37 marathoner speaking); what would be better is to focus on toning more lean muscle.
That said, let’s say for argument that you’re 5′ 11″, 200 pounds. I look at those two numbers and say to myself, that guy’s probably not going to break three hours, unless he has a rockin’ VO2 max.
on this matter I see your point in regards to weight. and I do believe part of it has merit…Currently, I am 6′ 1″ and weigh around 176 pounds…My bodyfat % has been determined to be around 11-13%…so I don’t believe the problem I am having is because I’m fat…But I do concede your point that I see a lot of runners with my same fitness level weighing 15-25 pounds less running a great deal faster than myself…However, I also see runners who weigh around the same weight and age as myself qualifying for Boston…These runners do very little to no upper body aerobic activity compared to myself…The running coach I consulted with indicates he sees the same effect on triathletes all the time….
..With respect to VO2 test, a local colleges or health facilities will perform one at the cost between $100-150….
I agree that your height, weight and % body fat all seem pretty reasonable. A bit on the heavier side for marathoners.
Thanks for VO2 testing info. A bit on the expensive side . . .
When I was 50, I ran 17:53 5K. My percent body fat measured 6.7%. I was the lowest the lab had ever tested.
My wife tested 11.1 which was the lowest ever for a woman at that lab.
The guy that tested me was 135 lbs and a 2:26 marathoner and he was higher than I was.
I looked like I had AIDs!
Every pound extra you carry adds about 2 seconds/mile to your pace.
I was 5’7″ and 138 lbs As low as I was a typical 5’7″ Kenyan weighs about 108 lbs!
I was not a very talented runner, so I had to train very hard and get my weight as low a possible to even be close to the good guys. As hard as I trained, their were guys my age that were 20 seconds/mile faster than I and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
BTW, I am 73 and weigh about 158 right now (down from over 170) and trying to get back close to 140 so I can run again.
When I was well trained, I had a VO2 max of about 58 and my ratios were almost exactly the same as the tables.
This chart is very accurate from 800m onwards, yet the aerobic / VO2 / VO2 Max demands and pace ratio is not apparent from 200m to 400m. With a highly trained , high VO2 Max runner it is possible to run 3.39 1500 or 3.56 mile off 1.52, but not common at all ( runners like Murray Halberg, Brendan Foster or Steve Prefontaine for example, at 1.51 to 1.52 range, yet near 3.37 to 3.38 ). A 1.52 800m runner typically requires 400m speed of 51.4 secs or 23.8 secs for 200m. The chart inexplicably has 27 secs 200m and 54 secs values. A 54 sec 400m, for even the strongest runner would return high 1.56, more typically 1.57 to 1.58.Also, 7.48 3000m returns nearer 13.20s 5000m and 27.44s 10000m for strength based runners, which suggest values nearer 61mins half marathon. Very good chart for elite runners from 800m upwards.
You are correct in your observation that VO2 max des not predict times for the shorter distances.
The reason is those distances are totally dependent on how fast a person is and that speed far exceeds the ability to take in a utilize O2. Some people can hit a top speed of 25 mph or higher. Distance runners can barely hit 20 MPH.
With the shorter races a person starts fully oxygenated and after some relatively short time is in O2 debt.
As the distance gets longer that fully oxygenated period become a smaller percentage of the entire race and a runner stabilizes at the speed that balances with their VO2max.
800 meters is the point where that early period is not so important,
Training improves your VO2max and your ability to run a complete race close to your VO2max. Weight loss improves your VO2max as there is an element of weight in the definition of VO2max.
Frank Shorter did not have the highest VO2max, but he could run a complete marathon very close to his VO2max.
Hi, I just had a vo2 test done as part of university test, I’m taking part in my VO2 was 43 I’ve punched it in, and my times alll match up with my current times for example 5km best us 22:40 predictor says 22:37 my 10km best is 48:32, going by my VO2 I can get down to 46:55 which is possible, so all in a goid guide, I am due to do 2 weeks HIIT as part of the study, and hope to see my VO2 will increase, fingers crossed my times come down to, I will report back once course is done .
The calculator was nearly perfect in predicting my 5k, 10k, as well as the half-and full marathon times. The deviation was from 2 seconds 5k to 3 minutes marathon! I am 40, and my VO2 is 51. I run consistently 40-45 miles a week, and train for a race in reasonable but not crazy manner. In addition, non of these race distances were new. The new one was 50k, and the prediction was off by about 40 minutes (I was slower). I run 4 marathons a year and believe that these are the once that keep me going and let me gain the best results at my VO2 capacity.
Obviously all of our experiences are different and the variables are almost too many to consider but I thought I’d share my experience anyway
I had a professional VO2 max test last week and came out at 46.3. The chart pretty much mirrors all of my pbs except for marathon which obviously has a major mental component which I will be working on,(Just a bit weak over the long distance.) I was astounded at how close most of the other predictions are.
Predicted actual pb
1 km 03:56 3:56
5 km 22:32 21.23
10km 46:44 46.49
Half Marathon 01:43:38 01:43:33
Marathon 03:35:03 4:20:09
When I was 50 I could run an 18 minute 5K.
I was trained and in shape to the max.
There ratios are right on!
That does not mean you can run an 800 meter trial and go out the next day and run a marathon based on the ratios.
You must do the training for a marathon to achieve the max marathon results.
Another point: You can run an 800 meter test every week and be within a second or so of your optimim.
A marathon is a different story. To run your best marathon is much more difficult.
For instance, how are you feeling that day? What is the weather? do you have headwinds for the entire course, do you have to defecate during the race? did you get too hot?
To run the perfect marathon is a rare thing. You may train and run 10 marathons and never have the perfect one.
As far as weight. VO2 max takes that into consideration. If you weigh 210 with a V02 max of 30 and lose weight to 140 , everything being the same you will have a VO2 max of something like 45.
A good rule of thumb is your mile pace will improve by 2 seconds with every pound you take off.
My suunto/movescount says vo2 = 43 which is 1.42 för 21.1km. But my time today on the race was 1.31. I guess suunto messures different (not vo2 max) and I know my running technique is good (which is the only parameter that is for sure). I know that my running form is good because I always loses during ascent and winning descent/flat.
I think numbers above is guidelines and each runner hav some poor parameters, mine is the entral capacity.
//Ronnie (swedish runner)
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