Right Foot Out #2 – Mix & Match to improve performance

Previously we learned that a firm foundation in running can be built by observing the 6 fundamental laws of training. Continuing the series, we explore how to improve your performance by varying your training intensity. While it is without a doubt that elite runners have a high training mileage (usually > 100 km / week), they also train smart by distributing their training load (time or distance) across different intensities. If you are already having a weekly mileage of about 20km for the past 2 – 3 months, you can start to vary your training intensities to reap the optimal outcome for your amount of mileage.

Understanding the Intensity Concept

What exactly is “intensity”? In its simplest form, it means how hard or how easy was your run. That, however, can be pretty subjective and lacks precise measurement. Heart rate monitoring is often used as an objective tool although it’s really filled with plenty of limitations and flawed training concepts. The popularity of such can be attributed to intense marketing campaigns in the late 1990s and early 2000s by the manufacturers of these gadgets, plus the fact that speed-distance devices (i.e. GPS watches) were very expensive and quite unheard of back then.

Thus for the rest of this article, speed (km/hr) will be used as the primary indicator of intensity.

Establishing your Maximal Engine Capacity (Vmax)

Imagine your body to be like a car. We are all of different shapes and sizes varying in engine capacities. Hence, if you cannot establish your true maximal engine capacity, you won’t be able to drive (run) at the appropriate speeds for suitable durations without causing the system to overheat. This capacity is called Vmax or Velocity Max. The following is a test to know your Vmax: 

*Repeat the test a few days later and take the higher of the 2 Vmax values*

Following the test, you will be able to individualize your “training zones” base on the workout hierarchy table below. Hence if your Vmax is 16.5km / hr, your zone 1B or long run pace will be 10.7 – 12.4 km /hr. 


We will be talking more about Zone 1A,B & C where the bulk of your mileage (70-80%) should be built upon. See the following for a better description of the Big 3 Zone 1 workouts:




Spend the next 2 months playing around the subzones within Zone 1 and find yourself gradually getting stronger. In Part 2 of this article, we will explore Zone 2 & 3 where runners will be exposed to higher intensity training and how to go about properly doing them for safety and performance purposes.

Written by Philip Tan

Philip is an Exercise & Performance Scientist with Running Guild who specializes in optimizing the performance of endurance athletes. With his motto “for sports, for science, for service”, Philip left his career at a local hospital several years ago to go out & bridge the gap between science and man while constantly encouraging others to challenge beliefs and practices to seek out scientific truth.

Running Guild is an events & coaching company that focuses on boutique events. Renowned for their ultra-marathons (including Southeast Asia’s longest single-stage Craze Ultra 100 miles Challenge), Running Guild believes in delivering high-quality event experience to all their participants. Follow them on their facebook for the latest news & updates athttps://www.facebook.com/RunningGuild


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