The critical velocity workout goes like this: fairly simple workout but huge benefits for marathoners. The workout consists of 2K repeats run at 15K pace followed by a 2-3 minute recovery. Most groups will start at 3 reps of 2K and then progress to 4 or 5 reps later in the program. Track surface is ideal because the markings are easy to find, but it can also be done on the road if marked.
Location and Surface:
Track(preferable) or road surface
The critical velocity workouts have been performed and experimented with for many years now but have recently been a hot topic amongst coaches and running discussion boards around the world. The reason for this is that the benefits from a critical velocity workout tap into a number of energy systems and the physiological benefits are incredible. Because of the pace, you get benefits not only to your lactate threshold but also your VO2 max. Lactate threshold benefits come because you are exposing your body, for short periods of time, to the point where it can no longer burn lactic acid as energy and it begins to accumulate in the blood. If you let your body stay in this state for too long, you can seriously hamper your training, but if you expose the body in small doses it will learn how to manage in these circumstances. If your body is not trained for it and you expose yourself to this lactic acid accumulation for too long your muscles divert all their attention to processing glycogen as a fuel source, which is in very limited supply, since it can no longer process the lactic acid,. Since you are in oxygen debt you cannot process fat quickly enough so the body, stressed for fuel and out of glycogen, begins to eat muscle protein, which causes serious damage to the muscles and requires extra time for recovery. Lactic acid can be used as fuel if there is enough oxygen present but at CV pace there won’t be. So, if the workout is done properly, you will not stress the body so much that you need 3 days to recover but enough that you will strengthen your bodies efficiency as an engine. VO2 max benefits come because you are exposing your body to oxygen debt. The more exposure your body gets, the more efficient it will become when exposed to this stress in the future. Most people can increase their VO2 max, but only in small increments, roughly 15%. The pace of a CV workout is roughly 15K pace. Somewhere between half marathon pace and 10K but never faster than 10K and ideally should be closer to half marathon pace. As long as runners stay between these limits the workout will be a success. Too fast and you are accumulating too much lactic acid and recovery will be much harder, run slower and you don’t get the benefits of increasing your bodies efficiency at using and buffering lactic acid. Traditionally CV workouts were considered a pace that could be sustained for 45 minutes. For our purposes this pace would tap into the sub 10K pace for most of our runners so we will use 15K.