How To Consistently Improve Your Running

The simple running test that’ll help you train smart for years to come…

If you want to keep getting faster at distance running you’ll need to get smart with your training. And to get smart you need to know what your current fitness levels are and which training intensities you should be training at. Thankfully there’s a really simple way to work this out. In some cases, you don’t even have to step foot out the door. Before I introduce this particular method, let me explain the advantages of run-fitness testing so you can decide if it’s something you’re interested in:

5 Benefits of Testing Your Run Fitness

  1. You can set yourself up-to-date training zones, so you can always run at the optimal intensity
  2. Enables you to predict an accurate pacing strategy for upcoming events, increasing your chances of a great result.
  3. Gives you a wake-up call when you’re not training as effectively as you could be
  4. Stops you from over analysing your training for clues about your current form. Helps you avoid the day to day psychological ups and downs that follow good and bad workouts.
  5. Gives you a clear sense of progress and reward for all your hard work. This can be very motivational.

The Method​

The simple test I’m talking about is known as the VDOT method. It was developed by coach and author Jack Daniels as a way of estimating your current VO2max – the optimal rate at which your heart, lungs and muscles can use oxygen during exercise.

A VDOT test involves a maximal 3km time trial (see below for details). Once you know your best current time for a 3km test, you can enter the results into an online calculator or consult a VDOT chart (see below). These will help you calculate your personalised training zones and predict your race times over a variety of distances from 800 metres to marathon.

In fact, you may not even have to do a 3km time trial. Some online calculators allow you to enter a recent race time (for example, 5km) to estimate your VDOT, current race times and training zones.

The beauty of the VDOT method is that it’s a quick and easy test that you can perform every 6 to 10 weeks. It gives you an up-to-date idea of the paces you should be holding in training, as well as a good idea of the optimal pace strategy for your next race.

The Test

Warm Up:
15 mins easy run, including 4x100m accelerating from easy to hard.

Main Set:
Run a 3km timed maximal effort.

Warm Down:
5mins easy run

3 Sample Workouts

NOTE: Make sure you include a 15 minute warm up and a 5 minute warm down for all of these sessions:

Session 1:
2 x 10 mins at Threshold Pace, with 60 secs rests

Session 2:
9 x 400m at Interval Pace, with 90 secs rests.

Session 3:
Two sets of 7 x 200m at Repetition Pace, with 3 mins rest between sets and 30 seconds rest between reps.

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5 Top Testing Tips

  1. Test yourself every 6 to 10 weeks, even if you’ve not trained much during that period. This allows enough time to see a positive or negative difference. If you’ve had some time off training, your new test results can act as a useful benchmark for future improvement.
  2. Test yourself in similar circumstances each time. External factors like temperature and equipment need to be consistent between tests. Similarly, internal factors like fatigue need to be consistent too, so it’s a good idea to always test yourself towards the end of a recovery week so that you’re fresh.
  3. Test yourself a couple of weeks before a key event, so that you have a good idea of what to expect on race day and how to deliver it.  Testing can actually help reduce race nerves, as it gives you more confidence in your pacing strategy and helps you avoid setting yourself unrealistic targets.
  4. Try not to feel too elated or deflated about each test result. It is not feasible to be in peak shape throughout an entire calendar year, so there will inevitably be periods of gain, loss and plateau. Your aim is to see a general upward trend in your performance levels over time, but that does not mean every single test has to be better than the previous one.
  5. Don’t start off too fast – this is the most common error people make when conducting testing. Your results will likely be better if you can adopt a more even pacing strategy. And it won’t feel so unpleasant either.
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Phil Mosley (Coach & Founder)
Phil Mosley (Coach & Founder)

Phil is a recognised endurance expert who founded MyProCoach in 2010 to offer smart training plans that still leave quality time for your family, friends & career - complete with highly-rated coach support (he has sold over 40,000 so far). Learn more here!

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Planning Your Off-Season

You can start our Off-Season (Fitness Maintenance) plans anytime you like.

They’re designed to help you maintain a good level of fitness when you’re not specifically targeting an event, such as, during the off-season, or anytime you’re taking a break from racing.

Planning For Your Event

For the best outcome, input the date for your “A” target race and the tool will default to a plan that will fill that gap nicely. If you want, you can then adjust the plan length to start it on a different day.

Note that you can still work in other, smaller races during your plan too!

Unlimited Athlete Price Rise - Dec 1st 2021

As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, after 2 hugely successful years of our Unlimited Athlete subscription with over 1300 active members, we’ve decided to increase our prices for the first time on December 1st.

The feedback has been outstanding (rated 5.0 from 100’s of testimonials), and recently we’ve also added further personal coach time… For example, our coaches now check your personalised training zones are set up correctly, and also keep you accountable by getting in touch if you haven’t logged any training for 2 weeks.

So, to maintain this great customer service and to support our coaches, on Dec 1st we’re increasing both price options by $5 per month, or by $4 per month if you pay annually (but for all existing Unlimited Athletes, to give a fair warning, renewals will not increase in price until Feb 1st, 2022).

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Which comes down to as little as $3.55 per week for unlimited training plans and ongoing certified coach support. We can’t thank everyone enough for all your support!

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