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 Billat's 30-30 Workout: An Alternative To Classic Intervals
Submitted by Rickshaw :: Wed Jan 12, 2005 11:14 am
Veronique Billat, a professor of sport sciences at the University of Lille, France, has developed a new approach to VO2max training that appears very promising. Her 30-30 workouts provide similar benefits to classic interval training, but are easier on the body and better tolerated by beginner/intermediate runners. An experiment involving modestly fit physical education students showed that twice-weekly 30-30 workouts boosted VO2max by an impressive 10% in just 8-10 weeks.

VO2max is the maximum rate at which your body can consume oxygen, while vVO2max is the minimum running speed needed to force the body to consume oxygen at that rate. Increasing VO2max enables you to run harder and faster, and so most training programs include various workouts designed to help boost VO2max. The classic approach is to run a series of intervals of about 5 minutes each at roughly your 5K race pace, with about 2 minutes easy jogging between intervals.

Billat's 30-30 workout takes a different approach. Athletes run for 30 seconds at vVO2max, then 30 seconds at half that speed, repeating as many times as possible until vVO2max can no longer be sustained. In practice this usually amounts to about 20 intervals.

How do you find your vVO2max? For most people, it's about the same as their 1 mile race pace. Billat suggests using the fastest pace you can sustain for six minutes. More background and a calculator for determining your vVO2max can be found here.

The pace during 30-30 work intervals is faster than during classic 5 minute intervals: roughly 1 mile race pace vs. roughly 5K race pace. Despite this, the 30-30 (even when carried to the point of exhaustion) appears to be easier on runners' bodies than the demanding long intervals. Furthermore, in Billat's tests, runners accumulated more total time at VO2max during 30-30 workouts than during classic interval workouts.

More accomplished runners may wish to move up to 60-60 intervals or higher, to a maximum of five 180-180 intervals. The longer intervals are considerably more demanding, but appear to be somewhat more effective than the 30-30 intervals for those runners who can tolerate them. Note that even these "long" intervals are still a significant departure from classic interval training, due to the faster running speed and longer recovery time between intervals. But for most recreational runners who are looking to improve their speed but dread the weekly interval session, 30-30 workouts appear to be a great alternative.


South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: Billat's 30-30 Workout: An Alternative To Classic Interv Posted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 8:56 pm 

Okay, so how does a 3%, 6%, or 10% increase in my VO2max translate into race time or pace? Shoud I expect that if after 10 weeks of doing this workout and I find that my VO2max has increased by, say, 5% that I can expect my race times to improve by 5%? In other words, can I expect to improve my 10K race from a 7:00 pace to a 6:39 pace?

Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Billat's 30-30 Workout: An Alternative To Classic Interv Posted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 9:23 pm 

Rouglhy, Yes, I think so. There are other factors at play too, discussed on the pages the article links to. Like the length of time you can sustain a VO2max effort run may change semi-independently of the actual VO2max value. Also, I think the running speed does not change linearly with VO2max.

You can estimate the effect using the Runworks calculator: . It computes your VDOT, which is a pseudo-VO2max (your true VO2max can't be determined on the basis of race times alone). Use the calculator to see what times you could run if your VDOT were 5% higher.

From your example, a 7:00 pace 10K (43:30) yields a VDOT of 47.1, and a 6:39 pace 10K (41:20) yields a VDOT of 50.0, which is 6.2% higher.

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