Maximal Aerobic Speed (MAS) is the speed at which we run when our oxygen consumption (VO2) hits its maximal value (VO2max) during a progressive maximal test. It is a useful index of aerobic capacity, on which to rely to set optimized running training sessions.
To accurately measure MAS, a lab-evaluation test is required, where VO2 is continuously measured and O2 composition of the exhaled air analyzed.
However, it is possible to obtain an valid MAS estimation without a complex lab test, using a test that requires little equipment.
Our 2-minute stage protocol
The MAS evaluation test that we propose is a simplified version (Péronnet and Thibault, 1991) of the Léger-Boucher test (Léger and Boucher, 1980). This indirect, progressive and maximal field test has several advantages : it is simple, inexpensive and just as relevant as the direct measurement of VO2max in the laboratory.
The test requires :
- an oval running track of at least 200 meters, where markers are placed at every 50 meters (mini traffic cones will do the job)
- the MAS field timer included in our phone app : 3-2-1 Go !
- Begin the test beside any of the markers,
- Run at the displayed speed (km/h), which corresponds to the stage level (starting at 7 km/h).
- Adjust your speed to pass markers at the sound of the bell,
- Stop the test as soon as you cannot reach a marker at the sound of the bell.
At the beginning, the test is relatively easy (speed of 7 km/h). Running speed then increases by 1 km/h at every (approximately) 2-minute stage.
MAS evaluation test table
|VO2max (ml/kg/min)||Time interval between ‘’beeps’’/ markers
|Number of ‘’beeps’’ per stage||
The test can be performed by many runners at once. For example, on an 400-meter oval running track with 8 markers, 48 runners can easily take the test : the test begins with 6 runners at each marker.
An alternate 7-minute test
It is also possible to get a decent MAS estimation with a 7-minute maximal test : a very motivated runner can usually maintain a running intensity that corresponds to his VO2max for 7 minutes.
To measure MAS we take the maximum distance ran in 7 minutes and use it in this formula :
VAM (km/h) = D (km) ÷ 7 x 60
For instance, if one runs 2000 meters on a 7-minute maximal test, his MAS is 17.14 km/h.
What about the VO2max ?
With the MAS value it is possible to obtain a VO2max estimation, by multiplying MAS (km/h) by 3.5 :
VO2max (mL/kg/min) = VAM x 3.5
For instance, a runner showing a MAS of 17.14 km/h has a VO2max of 60.0 mL/kg/min.
Le marathon : équilibre énergétique, alimentation et entraînement du coureur sur route (1991) Péronnet F et G Thibault. Décarie et Vigot, 438 pages.