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Hints and Tips

Here's how to train for the 1500 metres today

Brian Mackenzie reports on some research that will help you improve your 1500 metres

Research carried out in the US at George Washington University, and the University of Rhode Island concluded that the key factors in boosting times for the 1500 metres, were anaerobic power, V02max, and running economy (the amount of energy needed to run at a quality pace). How can you boost all three? It's simple if you use the following workouts. Sessions that build anaerobic power are marked with an (A), those that boost the economy are marked with an (E), and those that upgrade V02max have a (V) (note that some workouts help both anaerobic power and economy):

  1. Sizzle through 400-metre intervals at close to top speed, with a recovery period (slow jogging) which lasts about 2½ times as long as the actual interval (A)
  2. Run 400-metre intervals at a pace three seconds faster per 400 than current one-mile race tempo (or 800-metre intervals that are six seconds faster per 800), with eight-minute, slow walk recoveries in either case (E)
  3. Hill assaults: rocket up a steep, short hill (less than 75m high) at close to top speed and recover by walking back down. If you live in a flat section of the country, substitute with stadium steps or a staircase in a tall building for the hill. Another possibility is to do 20-second repeats on a stair-stepping machine at a very high-intensity, with two-minute recoveries (A & E)
  4. Hill climbs: find a more gradual hill with a long upslope (200m or so) and repeatedly run up it. Half the time, run at close to mile pace, and the rest of the time "bound" up the incline with high knee lifts and a springing action at the ankles. Recover by jogging back to the bottom of the hill (A & E)
  5. Aerobic intervals: run 1200 metre intervals at a pace of 25 seconds per 1200 slower than one-mile pace, with recoveries equal to or shorter than the intervals (V)

All the above workouts are high-intensity, so slower running is reserved for warm-ups, recovery days, and the offseason when it's OK to boost your mileage to develop your V02max.

Astrand Treadmill Test - how to determine your VO2 max

Brian Mackenzie explains how to monitor your vo2 max


To monitor the development of the athlete's general endurance (VO2 max).

Required Resources

To conduct this test, you will require:

  • Treadmill where the speed can be set at five mph (8.05 km/hr) and grade of the glope can be adjusted
  • Stopwatch
  • An assistant

How to conduct the test

The athlete runs on a treadmill set at a constant speed of 8.05 km/hr (5 mph) to exhaustion. At timed stages during the test the grade of slope (%) of the treadmill is increased as detailed in the table below:

Time (min) Slope
0 0%
3 2.5%
5 5%
7 7.5%
9 10%
11 12.5%
13 15%
15 17.5%
17 20%
19 22.5%
21 25%
23 27.5%
25 30%
27 32.5%
29 35%

The treadmill is set up at the start with a speed of 8.05km/hr (5 mph) and a grade of the slope of 0%. The athlete commences the test. After 3 minutes, the grade is set at 2.5%, and then every 2 minutes the grade is increased by 2.5%.

The assistant starts the stopwatch at the start of the test and stops it when the athlete is unable to continue.

Analysis of the test result

From the total running time, an estimate of the athlete's VO2 max can be calculated as follows:

  • VO2 max = (Time x 1.444) + 14.99

"Time" is the total time of the test expressed in minutes and fractions of a minute.


The athlete stopped the test after 13 minutes 15 seconds of running (13.25 mins).

  • VO2 max = (13.25 x 1.444) + 14.99
  • VO2 max = 34.123 mls/kg/min

Article Reference

This article first appeared in:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2003) Hints and Tips. Brian Mackenzie's Successful Coaching, (ISSN 1745-7513/ 3 / July), p. 12

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2003) Hints and Tips [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Brian Mackenzie is a British Athletics level 4 performance coach and a coach tutor/assessor. He has been coaching sprint, middle distance, and combined event athletes for the past 30+ years and has 45+ years of experience as an endurance athlete.