Power Output at VO2 Max

Read this on Joe Friel’s blog this morning…regarding VO2 max:

If you want to be an elite athlete you need to have a high VO2max. But that just gets you to the start line. To compete well you also must be economical…and you need an anaerobic/lactate threshold at a high percentage of your VO2max.

[The winner of the race will be the person] with the highest power output at VO2max. Given the choice of a high VO2max or a high power output at a lower VO2max, always pick power. It should be obvious that the person who can put out the most power when at his top end is the person who is most likely to win. There’s a close relationship between power and the results of a race. In the same way, if you know the paces a group of runners can do at VO2max, you have the best indicator of how the race results will come out.color>

After reading this, I went back to my VO2 Max Test results. My power output at my VO2 max was 400 watts. I’ve always felt like I have good power on the bike. My thoughts have been confirmed with race results (2nd, 7th & 7th in my age group on the bike leg in my three triathlons). Although, I’m not sure how good 400 watts at VO2 max really is.

A little research shows that Greg LeMond (three-time winner of the Tour de France) had a power output of 450 watts at a VO2 max of 92.5! I found another professional cyclist that had a power output of 390 watts at his VO2 max of 65.2. A quick Google search turned up the results of an amateur cyclist that tested at 350 watts at a VO2 max of 59.

So if power trumps VO2 max, then I’m in good shape on the bike. After reading more on the subject, I’ve decided the one reason I often “bonk” on the run in my triathlons is because of the leg power/force I use when riding. I tend to hang out in the high gears (smaller rings) and use my leg muscles to get over hills and push it on the flats. I can achieve the same speed and use less energy by changing to a lower gear and increasing cadence. I plan to work on this over the winter….we’ll see.

Ran 1.5 miles as fast as I could. This is a new part of my training. This is one of the many “tests” that I will do every month or so to see how things are progressing. Today’s run gives me a baseline to start from. I did the distance in 10:13 (6:47 min/mile pace). This isn’t very fast, but it was done around the track at the gym…21 laps. There’s a lot of slowing down to turn involved in running 21 laps around a small track. Next time I do this test I’ll try it on a long, flat stretch of road.
1 hour of weights (back, biceps, abs)

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