I’m a certified VDOT O2 Distance Running Coach!
The VDOT O2 Distance Running Coaching Certification is my certification as a running coach, but what is it, who is it from and what does it mean?
VDOT (V what?) stands for V̇O2 Max (pronounced V dot O2 Max) and is the amount of oxygen you consume per 1 minute of running. The VDOT values were pioneered in the 1970s after a wealth of research and the formula to calculate them was put together by renowned running coach Jack Daniels with the help of former NASA scientist Jimmy Gilbert. So this coaching method has a scientific and calculated approach, the VDOT tables have been used since the 1970s as they’re that good! This is where the name of the certification comes from. Your VDOT value is used to calculate your custom pacing zones for each type of run and race predictions for various distances.
You will be assigned a VDOT value based on a recent race result or a 5k test at race pace. By assigning you a VDOT value I will then assign you specific training paces for each type of run in your half marathon or marathon training plan. This is then coupled with proven training methods, knowing how much time to spend at a certain pace per week to benefit from the workout without overtraining and when to assign various workouts to prepare you for race day. This method of coaching means you will train at the right level for you instead of always running at “comfortable hard” like many runners do, these paces are then built into your structured training plan (See a sample training plan here).
Each run on your plan will be a set distance and pace instead of a vague “40 minutes easy” like many plans, each run serves a specific purpose and should move you towards your goal. Your training plan is completely customised to you, from the paces you will train, the times you run per week and the distance for each run. While you don’t need a qualification to be an online running coach, I wanted to go ahead and get certified to show that I know my stuff. Jack Daniels is a world-renowned coach who has enjoyed great success with his methods and has coached athletes at the Olympic level. His influence on running coaching has been enormous with his research impacting how many athletes approach their training and races.
Fun Fact: I scored 97.5% on the best 🤓
The VDOT (V what?) O2 Distance Coaching Certification is awarded after passing the VDOT O2 Distance Certification Exam which costs $199 to take and requires a score of 80% or more to pass, which is authored by Jack Daniels himself. The test covers all aspects of his teachings from the principles of coaching, which covers how to coach athletes in a way so they get the most from their training and enjoy the sport. It also means I know how to use his VDOT tables to give you precise pacing zones for each of your training runs, the pacing zones related to each value are incredibly accurate and accurately mirror a runner’s fitness. Your VDOT value, short for “V-dot-O2 max”, is the amount of oxygen you can consume during 1 minute of running. This value is calculated from your current fitness level (a recent race time or 5k test at race pace) and your pacing zones in your training plan are based upon it, meaning that your plan is custom to you and built around you from the ground up.
Having custom pacing zones takes the guesswork out of how fast to run during training and ensure your training is moving you towards your race goal. As you get fitter your VDOT value increases, meaning your pacing zones and plan will change with your VDOT value. I also take into consideration the VDOT value you need to be at to reach your race goal and factor this into your plan to get you race ready.
It also covers how to put together training plans for a range of distances and ensure that each plan I write is suited to each individual athlete. This includes what volume of your weekly training should be easy running, how much speed work you should do, how many reps of intervals you should do and how long your long run should be. While I knew a lot about his methods from my own training, passing the test required studying his book from cover to cover as it goes into great depth about coaching practices and training methods, which I can now say has become my training manual.
Check out the certificate on Instagram!
Who it’s from?
This certification comes from Jack Daniels, a renowned exercise scientist who won 2 Olympic medals in the Modern Pentathlon and has seen great success since transitioning to becoming a running coach. His research has helped shape running coaching and how half marathon and marathon training plans are put together. His infamous VDOT tables, pseudo VO2max values based on fitness level and running ability, determine athletes appropriate training intensities to prepare them for their upcoming race. These tables have been used since the 1970s, they’re that accurate!
He also theorised that 180 steps per minute is the optimal running cadence after a study at the 1984 Olympics. Using his formulas for training ensures an athlete trains at an appropriate level and improves their performance while minimising the risk of injury or overtraining.
What does it mean?
This means I know how to create structured training plans that get results for clients by using the VDOT formula as the basis for designated training zones. My plans are based on Jack Daniels’ methods and aim to get the maximum benefit from the least amount of stress. This doesn’t mean intervals will be easy! But why run 1 km intervals in 4:00-minute pace when running them when at a 4:10 pace elicits the same physiological result? It also means I know how to use various training methods and different workouts in your training plan to prepare you for race day. I felt it was important to get certified as it proves I know how to coach people for marathons and write training plans that get results.
I use these methods myself for my own training and currently have a marathon PB of 2:52 which I’m looking to beat.
Check out my training plans options to get a custom training plan for your upcoming race and get to the start line ready to go!
If you have any questions about this qualification, my plans or about me then feel free to email me.