In our previous article, we showed how to find out whether your runner should increase or decrease VLamax. Now it’s time to answers the final question: how to increase or decrease VLamax and How to increase VO2max in the meantime.
Ben Tilus, National and State Champion coach in track and field and XC, shares his 3-step approach when it comes to balancing VLamax and VO2max in runners. In short:
- First: lower VLamax. As explained in the previous article, this will decrease lactate production and therefore increase the lactate threshold (or critical velocity).
- Second: increase VO2max. This enables the athlete to run fast without accumulating lactate and it enables the athlete to “burn” lactate as a fuel.
- Lastly: increase VLamax. As soon as VO2max is high enough, the aerobic energy system is able to burn (clear) lactate quickly. Therefore, it makes sense to increase VLamax / lactate production again.
Let’s learn how Ben Tilus implements these 3 steps in training. Ben Tilus continues:
HOW TO LOWER VLAMAX IN RUNNING
To lower VLamax, we first take away anything out of the training program that would raise the VLamax. Examples are:
- Stay away from aggressive weightlifting
- Don’t do short hill sprints with long resting periods in between
- Remove any massive sprinting in general
Download the whitepaper to read what training sessions Ben adds to the training program, to lower VLamax for runners.
HOW TO INCREASE VO2MAX IN RUNNING
Once VLamax (and therefore lactate production) is down, we start to focus on increasing VO2max. The challenge is to keep the VLamax low, while raising VO2max. Why? Because you want to train the aerobic system to burn (clear) lactate, but you don’t want your athlete to produce a lot of lactate at high intensities, because that would increase VLamax.
There is a trick to do this in training. This special training technique increases lactate concentration during an interval (which stimulates VO2max) without having to run at high intensities (which would increase VLamax).
To increase VO2max, I start implementing VO2 reps. But I stay on the lower edge of VO2 rep intensities. Training volume almost always has to go up a little bit as well.
HOW TO INCREASE VLAMAX IN RUNNING
When VO2max has gotten high enough – probably over several seasons – we can start increasing VLamax again. The INSCYD virtual test (prescribed in the previous article) will show you whether there is benefit to raising your athlete’s VLamax.
To increase VLamax, we stay away from the training strategies that decrease VLamax (described in the whitepaper).
Instead, here are some examples of what I add to the program to increase VLamax:
- 20 second sprints every mile of a run, or;
- 200 meter accelerations with full recover (e.g. 20 minutes) in between, or;
- 8 reps of explosive weight training with long rest (e.g. 10 minutes) between sets, or;
- 10 second hill sprints with walking recovery (e.g. 5 minutes)
We also continue with VO2 reps, described in the How to increase VO2max section, but now at a higher intensity, since we’re not worried about increasing VLamax anymore.
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Coach Ben Tilus is an elite performance coach and data analyst who has helped runners of all distances achieve maximum results through individual testing and optimized training since starting coaching in 2008. In 2020 he founded XLR8 Performance Lab and began testing and assisting approximately one dozen athletes over the first 6 months of the business. Today he serves over 200 athletes, primarily working alongside high school athletes and their families to accomplish their goals! Learn more at xlr8-performancelab.com