Testing your Endurance

A way to test an athlete's aerobic endurance - beyond the scope of maximal work, which is measured by VO2 type tests - is just to run for long periods of time and see what times are achieved.

This is probably sensible, and once we run for more than about an hour the event will be at least 95% aerobic (this level is only about 75-80% for a VO2 max test).

Therefore, a very good measure of an athletes aerobic endurance will be their half marathon or marathon times.

To a significant extent an athletes cardiovascular fitness is a good indicator of their endurance capabilities. This measures the speed at which a relatively light exercise is carried out, and the athletes heart rate is measured as they recover.

A good test for this is the Harvard Step Test

  1. Find a step which is 45-50 cm high - this could be a box / a high step / low wall or chair.
  2. Take the athletes pulse (measuring for 30 seconds each time) after 1 minute of stepping up and down from the elevated surface, followed by after 2 minutes and 3 minutes.
  3. The score achieved is calculated using the following formula:
    30000 / (sum of the 3 pulses x 2)

Scientifically, this is the amount of oxygen the body can use in millilitres, per kilo that you weigh, per minute.

excellent> 90
good80 - 89
high average65 - 79
low average55 - 64
poor< 55

Use this table to measure your cardivascular fitness - if it isn't all that good, then some low level exercise for at least 30 mins, 3 times a week would be a good idea (this is something often neglected by sprinters). We all need to be "fit to train" even if aerobic capacity isn't necessary for our individual events.