EPC Tips - VO2 Max Interval Run

Jun. 10, 2015

Training the Vo2 Max energy system is hard work. You can do longer intervals that build you into your Vo2 Max energy system over the first 2 minutes and then you hold it there for another 1-3 minutes, take a long rest and repeat (5x5:00 w/ 4:00 recoveries for example). Or you can do shorter intervals with very short recovery intervals that gradually build you into the Vo2 energy system over the first several intervals and then basically keep you the energy system in an "on-off" fashion for the remainder of the main set. The following session addresses the later example.

I find this method to feel a little "easier" and more manageable as the work is broken up into small segments with partial recoveries to break it up, but at the same time keep things moving.

In the main set below you'll see the work interval durations are very short at only 200m and the recovery intervals are even shorter at 100m. The concept here is that you run very fast for each 200m interval (roughly around 2k pace) and run very easy for the 100m segments and then repeat 10-20 times through. With each interval you will run the same speeds while your exertion level (and HR) will continue to rise. The short partial-recoveries between them allows your HR to come down a little before you launch into the next work interval, but keep it high enough that you get back into the Vo2 energy system quickly upon the start of the next interval. As the workout progresses you reach your Vo2 Max energy system typically around 5-6th interval and then remain training that energy system for the remainder of the main set.

You can do this session as a stand-alone run workout or as a run off the bike to make it even more triathlon specific as you approach your goal events.

If you run off the bike, you'll lean more towards the shorter end of the number of intervals (as you'll likely have done some work on the bike prior to the run) or if you're just running, you'll lean towards the higher end of the number of intervals. I recommend doing this workout for the final 3-5 weeks leading into your goal events, before you begin your taper/recovery period. As you progress each week, you can choose to add more intervals (from 12 to 16 for example) or lengthen the intervals (to 400m work, 200m recovery) for higher training load. This is fast training, so don't jump in head first. Rather take time to gradually build the load from moderate to heavy as you go week to week. Words of wisdom: A little bit goes a long way and too much will hurt you more than help you. Good luck!

Stand-alone WARM-UP:

  • 5:00 Dynamic Warm-Up
  • 10-15:00 easy run
  • 4:00 build to tempo pace
  • 2:00 walk
  • 4x[0:15 strides, 0:45 walk]

Off-the-bike WARM-UP: 

  • 4:00 build to race pace
  • 1:00 walk


  • 10-20x[200m (or time equivalent) @ ~2k pace, 100m (or time equivalent) jog]


  • 2:00 walk
  • 5-10:00 easy run
  • 3:00 walk
Written by Cody Waite, professional endurance athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Endurance Performance Coaching. Looking for help with your training for 2015? Check out EPC’s Personal CoachingGroup Coaching, and Custom Training Plan options created to fit your needs and budget.  Don’t forget to ‘LIKE’ the EPC Facebook Page and follow Cody on Instagram
EPC Tips