Critical Velocity Running: A Comprehensive Guide to CV Training for Runners

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CV Running Guide: What Is Critical Velocity Running?

Critical Velocity (CV) running is a training concept that has gained popularity among runners looking to improve their performance and endurance. It is a method that focuses on running at a specific pace that is sustainable for a prolonged period. By incorporating CV running into your training routine, you can enhance your running efficiency and achieve better results in races.

Understanding the Concept of CV Running

CV running is based on the concept of critical velocity, which is the maximum running speed that can be sustained aerobically without accumulating an excessive amount of lactic acid in the muscles. This pace is just below the lactate threshold, which is the point at which lactic acid begins to accumulate faster than it can be cleared from the muscles.

The key to CV running is to find the optimal pace that allows you to run at a high intensity while still staying within your aerobic capacity. By training at this pace, you can improve your aerobic fitness, increase your lactate threshold, and enhance your overall running performance.

Benefits of Incorporating Critical Velocity Training

Incorporating CV training into your running routine offers numerous benefits, including:

  1. Improved endurance: By training at your CV pace, you can increase your aerobic capacity and improve your ability to sustain a higher intensity for longer periods.
  2. Faster race times: CV running helps enhance your lactate threshold, allowing you to run at a faster pace before reaching fatigue. This can result in improved race times.
  3. Enhanced running efficiency: By training at your CV pace, you can improve your running form and efficiency, reducing the risk of injury and improving overall running economy.
  4. Mental toughness: CV training pushes you to run at a challenging pace, helping to develop mental resilience and toughness in pushing through discomfort during races.
  5. Versatile training: CV running can be incorporated into various training programs, making it suitable for runners of all levels and distances.

How to Calculate Your Critical Velocity

Calculating your critical velocity is essential for effectively incorporating CV running into your training routine. There are several methods to determine your CV pace, including:

  1. Time Trials: Perform a time trial over a set distance, such as 2 miles, and record your time. Divide the total time by the distance to calculate your pace per mile. This pace can be used as an estimate of your CV pace.
  2. Race Data: Analyze your race performances and identify the pace at which you can maintain a steady effort for an extended period. This pace can serve as a starting point for CV training.
  3. Heart Rate Monitoring: Use heart rate monitoring during training to determine the pace at which you can sustain an effort just below your lactate threshold. This heart rate zone corresponds to your CV pace.

Designing an Effective CV Running Workout Plan

To design an effective CV running workout plan, consider the following guidelines:

  1. Determine your CV pace: Use the methods mentioned above to calculate your CV pace.
  2. Incorporate interval training: Include intervals at or slightly faster than your CV pace into your training plan. These intervals should be of varying distances and durations to challenge your aerobic capacity.
  3. Gradually increase training volume: Start with shorter CV intervals and gradually increase the duration and distance over time. This progressive overload helps improve your aerobic fitness without risking overtraining.
  4. Include recovery days: Allow adequate rest and recovery between CV workouts to prevent overuse injuries and optimize performance.
  5. Monitor progress: Regularly assess your performance and make adjustments to your training plan as needed. This may include tweaking interval distances, adding variety to workouts, or adjusting training volume based on your progress.

Tips for Maximizing CV Running Performance

To maximize your CV running performance, consider the following tips:

  1. Consistency is key: Incorporate CV training into your regular running routine consistently to see the best results.
  2. Listen to your body: Pay attention to any signs of overtraining or fatigue and adjust your training accordingly. Rest and recovery are crucial for optimal performance.
  3. Vary your workouts: Include a mix of CV intervals, long runs, tempo runs, and recovery runs to improve overall fitness and prevent plateauing.
  4. Warm-up and cool-down: Prioritize a proper warm-up and cool-down routine to prepare your body for intense CV workouts and aid in recovery.
  5. Nutrition and hydration: Fuel your body with the right nutrients and stay adequately hydrated to support your training and optimize performance.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in CV Running

To ensure you get the most out of your CV running training, avoid the following common mistakes:

  1. Starting too fast: Begin CV workouts at a pace that allows you to sustain the effort without compromising your form or overexerting yourself.
  2. Neglecting recovery: Rest and recovery are critical for adaptation and improvement. Avoid overtraining by incorporating rest days and easy runs into your training plan.
  3. Ignoring form and technique: Focus on maintaining proper running form and technique during CV workouts. Poor form can lead to inefficient running and increased risk of injury.
  4. Neglecting the basics: Don’t overlook the importance of a well-rounded training plan that includes strength training, flexibility exercises, and cross-training activities to support your CV running.
  5. Failing to monitor progress: Keep track of your workouts, race performances, and improvements to gauge progress and make necessary adjustments to your training plan.


Q: How often should I include CV running in my training?

A: The frequency of CV running depends on your training goals and overall training volume. It is generally recommended to include CV workouts 1-2 times per week, gradually increasing the duration and intensity as your fitness improves.

Q: Can CV running benefit marathon training?

A: Yes, incorporating CV running into your marathon training can be highly beneficial. It helps improve aerobic fitness, increases lactate threshold, and enhances running economy, all of which are crucial for marathon performance.

Q: Is CV running suitable for beginners?

A: CV running can be beneficial for runners of all levels, including beginners. However, it is important for beginners to gradually build their aerobic fitness and running base before incorporating CV workouts into their training routine.

Q: How long should CV intervals be?

A: CV intervals can vary in distance and duration. It is recommended to start with shorter intervals, such as 400 meters or 800 meters, and gradually increase the duration as your fitness improves.

Q: Can I still do speedwork alongside CV running?

A: Yes, speedwork can complement CV running by targeting different energy systems. However, it’s important to balance the intensity and volume of your workouts to prevent overtraining and injury.

Q: Can CV running help improve 5K race times?

A: Yes, CV running can help improve 5K race times by increasing aerobic capacity, lactate threshold, and running efficiency. Incorporating CV workouts into your training plan can lead to faster race performances.

Q: How long does it take to see results from CV running?

A: The time it takes to see results from CV running varies depending on individual fitness levels and training consistency. With regular training, improvements in aerobic fitness and race performances can be observed within a few weeks to a couple of months.

Note: The answers provided in this FAQ section are for informational purposes only and may vary based on individual circumstances. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified coach or healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance.

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