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What are the big rocks of endurance events success?

Research tells us the big rocks that predict success in endurance events are:

VO2 Max



VO2 Max

VO2 Max is the amount of oxygen we can use per minute. Untrained or elderly people can have values as low as in the 30’s and the highest are often seen in elite cyclists and cross-country skiing, sometimes in the 90’s. A high VO2 Max means you can shift a lot of oxygen to the working muscles and is genetically determined to some degree, but it is trainable and should be a major component of a training plan. VO2 is different from one event to another due to such differences as the amount of muscle mass being used.


vVO2 is the velocity at VO2 Max. Some authors equate this to LT (Lactate Threshold) but that is a different physiological parameter, and many define it in different ways. vVO2 has been shown to be an effective discriminator of performance between athletes with the same VO2. As it’s hard to increase an athlete’s VO2 beyond a certain stage, vVO2 becomes important in long term development.


Economy is the oxygen or calories cost of moving at a certain speed or over an identified distance and it’s calculated in different ways. It will vary between events, so running economy will be more expensive than cycling as weight is supported and there are gears etc in the latter. Economy is influenced by different qualities eg. strength, coordination, use of ground reaction forces and technique. It is also task specific, running economy will change with gradient and terrain. Research is showing that economy is often the key quality in successful athletes.

An individual’s performance will be determined by where the 3 big rocks overlap.

And this also tells us where an individual athlete needs to improve.

If any of the rocks are pebbles, that’s where improvement lies.

So, 2 questions:

Have you had your rocks checked? Are they pebbles or boulders?

Is your training plan developing your pebbles into boulders?

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