Most of my stories about running tend to involve me scoffing at the advice of others, only later to find out that they were right the whole time. This is one of those stories.
For a good while people had told me that doing track workouts and other speed work was key to running success. "Nah," I said, "I just run pretty much as fast as I can handle, all the time!" Obviously, 100% effort would lead to the best outcomes!
In my defense, For a good while I've been at a point where just getting out and running more actually would lead to better results. In 2017 I ran the most that I have in a year (1,578 miles) and set PRs at the 1-mile, 5k, 10k, 10 mile, half, and full marathon. And I did my first Half Ironman. During that time, my VO2 Max, as estimated by my Garmin watch was consistently in the 51-54 range.
This August though, I finally convinced myself to give speed workouts a real try. By setting some goals in WeAchieve, I dragged myself to the track on some truly brutal summer nights, and have been a tad spotty with it of late, although having a weekly goal has helped tremendously.
So, what's happened? Well, if Garmin's VO2 calc is to be believed, I've entered semi-rarefied air! As it steadily climbed over the year, I am now at a VO2 Max of 59 which is apparently in the top 1% for 30-year-old dudes.
Illustrating the point a bit more, I overlayed my VO2 with my total meters of interval work in the second screenshot. While I never want to be the guy extrapolating from sample size n=1, there appears to be a clear relationship here that at least doing some speedwork (even just 10k of high intensity work in a month) is enough to take things to another level.
Of course, I could also just be spotting a bias in Garmin's VO2 calc, but I'd prefer not to think about that. I'm looking forward to putting this all to the test in some races in 2019!