Why Do A Running Fitness Test?

The purpose of running fitness testing is to provide information that can be used to both optimise training and enhance performance.

Getting your training intensities correct and working on the right things at the right stage of the year means you aren’t wasting precious training time.

The risks of injury, illness and overtraining can also be reduced as a consequence.

The main physiological variables that impact on performance will vary depending on the event you do, so getting your training right for your event and also for your current physiological status is important.

In short, a running fitness test will help you maximise your training in the time that you have available to train.

For more information or to make an appointment for a running fitness test please contact us.

Running Fitness Test

Running Fitness Test Protocol

The test is in two parts (maximal and submaximal) and includes measures of VO2max, maximal heart rate, running economy and lactate thresholds and corresponding heart rates and running speeds.

You can download a detailed description of the test protocols here.


After the testing you would receive a written report. The report would include all the data that was collected during your testing session, and an explanation of what it all means.

The tests allow us to determine your strengths and weaknesses, and we explain how these impact on your performance. Your report would give training advice based on your test results, taking into account the training you currently do, your goals, and the time you have available to train.

What Is Measured?

Running Economy

During the submaximal test your oxygen uptake is measured, this allows us to determine your running economy.

The less oxygen you use at any given speed, the more economical you are. If you are preparing for a marathon then running economy is very important. If you are training for a 5K race then this variable is less important.

If running economy is important for the event you are training for and it is something you need to improve, then we will give you suggestions of how to go about doing this.

Lactate Thresholds

During the submaximal test we measure the concentration of lactate in your blood. Lactate is produced when your body uses carbohydrate as a fuel.

When running you will be using a combination of fats and carbohydrates as fuel. We have a lot longer lasting supply of fats than carbohydrates in our bodies and therefore as a distance runner, the more you can use fats, the longer your energy supplies will last. lactate threshold

Fats supply energy slowly to the working muscles, whilst carbohydrate provides a fast supply. At low exercise intensities, much of the energy will be provided by fats.

As exercise intensity increases and energy is required at a higher rate, more of the energy will be supplied by carbohydrates.

What we are looking for during this part of the test is to find when you move from using pretty much mainly fats as a fuel, to including a small proportion of carbohydrates, and then when you shift to using pretty much mainly carbohydrates. These points are usually referred to as lactate thresholds.

These two points tell us how well trained you are aerobically and in short, as a distance runner you want to train to shift these points to occur at higher speeds. This means you would still be using fats as a fuel whilst running at faster speeds.

Maximal Oxygen Uptake

The max test gives a measure of your maximal oxygen uptake, or VO2max. This is the greatest amount of oxygen that your body can take up and use. It is a good indicator of your capacity for endurance, however more important for performance is the percentage of this that you can comfortably sustain.

This is often referred to as fractional utilisation. So the fraction (percentage) of your VO2max that you can sustain during a race. This is related to where your thresholds lie but is also influenced by things such as your running economy, nutritional status, the race course, the weather on the day of a race and so on.

For the purposes of the lab test we look at what percentage of your VO2max your thresholds lie at. Whilst having your thresholds at a high percentage of your VO2max is good, if they are at a very high percentage then to make further improvements you may have to improve your VO2max or become more economical so that you are using less oxygen at any given speed.

In this way the tests highlight what you need to work on to improve your running fitness, and ultimately your race performance.

If you don’t know what is limiting you, then how do you know what training to do to improve? Or what intensity to train at for any given session?

Don’t leave it to chance, contact us to book a running fitness assessment!

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