VO2 max

Discussion in 'Professional Cycling' started by IanHighfield, Jan 1, 2010.

  1. IanHighfield

    IanHighfield New Member

    This subject has come up in several threads so far. I used to think it important to register a high number. Then I did a bit of reading on elite marathon runners.

    American Bill Rodgers who dominated marathoning like few others only registered a 70 on a standard multi-breath VO2 test. While this is well above normal, it is low for elite endurance athletes.

    All Rodgers' managed to do was race at 2:09 at a time when to break 2:12 was rare. 2:12 represents a pace of 5 minutes per hour. Today runners train at that speed. But in 1975 Bill Rodgers was an uncoached cigarette-smoking hippie who admitted to loosing his shoes under the bed for weeks at a time.

    The one thing he had going for him was a willingness to suffer and an understanding of what racing at the edge of darkness meant. He always maintained a person was at their fastest when unable to think or do simple time compilations en route.

    His most famous statement about racing, and one I always remember, is a racer should do the first half of any race like a training run and then go berserk in the second half. I like that: Go berserk.

    Another great American was the late Steve Prefontaine. Maybe the best American ever. He liked to describe his racing style as "A short trot to get to the dog fight." He once told a reporter he "Likes to go out hard and make something happen or die like a dog trying." More dog analogies. I think I would have liked Prefontaine.

    Both runners of moderate VO2 who could not be beaten on force of will alone and the pain that comes with it.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2010
  2. Alex Simmons/RST

    Alex Simmons/RST Cycling Coach

    VO2max is a poor predictor of performance ability. You need a certain level to be a pro, but beyond that it's just a ticket to the game and other factors are equally if not more important (e.g. % of VO2max sustainable at threshold and gross metabolic efficiency).

    IOW it's the power we can produce at threshold that matters (physiologically speaking), and our VO2max is only one of the factors that influences that power output.

    Quoting VO2max as a fitness indicator in isolation of other factors is a bit like trying to guess the volume of a box when you only know the length of one side.