Balke Test

After some researching on my running books and on the Internet, I found out that the evaluation run that my coach did to me prior to my speed training 4-5 years ago was the so-called “Balke Test”.

The Balke Test is a way to measure one’s VO2 Max. VO2 Max is the maximal rate at which oxygen can be brought in and used by the exercising muscle. It stands for ” Volume Of Oxygen Uptake” which is simply described as the body’s maximum capacity to transport and utilize oxygen while running. It is expressed in “milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute” If you have a higher number of VO2 Max, the better for you to run faster and more efficiently.

In order for a runner to undergo the Balke Test, he needs an oval track, a stopwatch and a calculator. The following are the steps in undergoing the test:

1. Go to an oval track. After a thorough warm-up, run as fast as you can for 15 minutes, covering a distance as much as possible. Be sure to run on the most inner lane of the oval track as it is measured as 400 meters.

2. Record the number of laps that you have covered plus the extra meters. Multiply the number of laps by 400 meters and then add the extra meters you covered after the last lap.

3. After having the number in meters, convert the number to meters per minutes by dividing it by 15. For example, if you covered 6 laps & one-half, multiply 6 laps by 400, then add 200. The distance covered in meters is 2,600 meters. Divide 2,600 meters by 15 minutes and the result is 173.3 meters per minutes.

4. From that 173.3 meters per minute, the first 150 meters/minute is equivalent to 33.3 ml/kg/min.

5. The remaining 23.3 is then multiplied by 0.178 and added to the base of 33.3. So, going back to our example, 23.3 X 0.178 = 4.14. If the base 33.3 is added to 4.14, the result is 37.44 ml/kg/min or VO2Max.

This means that your current aerobic fitness is 37.44 and it serves as your baseline VO2Max.

In the books “Hansons Marathon Method” & “Jack Daniel’s Speed Training”, you can find chart that would recommend ones target pace in Interval Training, Tempo/Threshold Runs, and Easy Run.

You can apply the Balke Test again on the middle of your training in order to check your progress in terms of your pace and speed to cover a certain distance.

You can also refer additional information on the Balke Test and the recommended paces on your speed training by browsing on Google.

So, lace up, go out of the door and run!

Balke Test On The Oval Track
Balke Test On The Oval Track

(Source: Hansons Marathon Method by Like Humprey With Keith & Kevin Hanson)

Getting Back My Speed

Interval workout in an oval track or in a measured-loop course is one of the best ways to improve one’s speed in running. Whether you are training for the usual long distance runs from 3K to Marathon or even Ultra Marathon Races, a runner needs to incorporate speed workouts to his training program.

Having been absent in local races for the past months and weeks, I continued to do my LSDs on the roads, trails and mountains as I slowly recovered from my running-related injury. But my LSDs and peak-bagging feats made me a slower runner on the roads but made me a stronger runner on the trails.

For the past 3 weeks, I’ve started running again on city roads and I monitored my LSD pace for these runs. I’ve observed that I could run an average of 7.5K per hour speed which I think is an appropriate ultra marathon speed to finish an ultra distance within the prescribed cut-off time. But for a marathon pace, such speed is a “death march” pace to the finish!

I wanted to improve my speed to the range of 8-8.5K per hour and for me to get into that range of speed is to do some interval workout. I started doing my interval workout at the Philippine Army Grandstand/Parade Ground Jogging Lane. The course is flat, paved and it is approximately 1-kilometer loop (actually it lacks 3-5 meters which is very negligible). This is where I started doing my weekly 1K interval repeats in five (5) repetitions with 400-500 meters as walking breaks in between.

What is different and unique in my interval workouts is that I do it after one hour of snorkling/swimming at the Philippine Army Swimming Pool and it is usually done from 11:30-12:30 noon time. Yes, that’s how crazy I am in my present training. That is the reason why my skin is becoming darker everyday! (Note: One-half of the loop is partially shaded with trees)

My first week interval workout data gave me an average of 5:30 minutes/km pace and my average LSD speed increased to 8K per hour. My second week interval workout gave me an average of 5:20 minutes/km pace and my average LSD speed increased to 8.5K per hour. Lately, my third week interval workout gave me an average of 5:10 minutes/km pace and my average LSD speed increased to 9.0K per hour. In my rough estimate, it’s within 10:45 minutes/mile range and if I can sustain such pace, I can run a full marathon in 4:42 to 4:45 hours. Not bad for a Senior Citizen!

Even if I immediately wear my running shoes after coming out of the swimming pool and do my jogging to the Parade Ground, I still do my warm-up easy run for 1K; do some basic stretching to my calf muscles, quads, hamstrings, glutes and ITBs; and do some brief speed drills like “knee-high” or “100-ups”, butt kicks, and bouncing lunges! After my interval workout, I have to do also another 1K “cool-down” jog or brisk walk before I end up with my post-stretching exercises, the same ritual before the workout, except for the speed drills.

Since is it very hot at noon time, I see to it that I have to drink water every time I finish one repetition of the workout. It is only after the workout that I ingest food and drink my sports drinks. (Note: There are water fountains along the jogging lane)

If you want to get faster and more consistent in your training and races, don’t forget to include an interval workout in your training program, at least, once a week. There are other ways and means to make you faster but I’ll have to reserve that in my future posts.

Remember, interval workout is the reason why the runner in front of you is faster and stronger! You can do it, too! And ultimately, beat the runner who had been passing you or the guy in front of you!

Mt Samat Mt Miyamit 438

(Note: Don’t be misled why I’ve been swimming a lot. Swimming is a part of my cure/treatment to my injury and I use it as an “extender”/cross-training workout for my ultra running training)

Tuesday May 25, 2010

AM: ULTRA/5.6K @ 29 mins/Average Pace: 5:08 mpk (Adidas Adizero Mana)

It was a hot day as I decided to start the week with a short run at the ULTRA/Philsport Oval Track at 8:00 AM of this day. I purposely had the day before, Monday, as my rest day after running back-to-back last Saturday & Sunday. I ran 10.1 K in the morning of Saturday at the MOA-PICC-Cultural Center-MOA Route and another 10.2K run in the evening at the The Fort. Last Sunday, I was about to run in the morning at the MOA Grounds but instead, I just stayed on the sidelines to watch the San Mig Coffee Run. However, at 7:30 PM, I returned to the MOA Complex to run another 12.1K before the start of the Call Center’s Night Fun Run.

I really needed those easy long runs on weekends for my endurance in order to back up my body strength in preparation for my speed runs during the week.

On this day, even if it was too hot, I did my usual warm-up run  for 4 laps at Lane #8. My GF 305 registered a distance of 2.33K with a time of 11:50 minutes; average pace of 5:04 mpk. After a brief water break, I did 2 X 400 at Lane #1 with an interval rest of  1 minute. My first rep was timed at 1:43 mins with an average pace of 4:08 mpk. My 2nd rep was timed at 1:41 mins with an average pace of 4:00 mpk. I could hardly breath after doing two reps because of the heat of the sun. It was too hot that I had to take water break in-between my speed reps. Finally, I decided to stop my 400 meter runs and ended doing an easy run for another 4 laps at Lane #8. I had a time of 12:49 minutes and my legs became heavier as I ended my last 2 laps.

PM: ULTRA/8.8K @ 44 mins/Average Pace: 5:00 mpk (Adidas Adizero Mana)

I joined the BR Speed Training at the ULTRA Oval Track at 6:30 PM with the rest of my elite athletes and the Professionals. I ran the usual 4 laps at the outer lane of the oval track as my warm-up before I did my stretching exercises, brief drills, and core workout. After my water break, I did 4 X 1,600 with an interval rest recovery of 2-3 minutes. The following were the data taken from the GF 305:

1st rep: 7:46 mins; average pace of 4:42 mpk

2nd rep: 7:45 mins; average pace of 4:38 mpk

3rd rep: 7:45 mins; average pace of 4:39 mpk

4th rep: 8:10 mins; average pace of 4:50 mpk

I finished my workout with another easy and relaxing 4 laps at the oval track for my cool down run/jog before doing my post stretching exercises. My body and legs are in shape as I did not feel any pain or issues during my workout. The only problem was the heat and humidity plus the number of runners & walkers using the Oval Track during Tuesday evenings. How I wish the Coaches teaching and supervising the different running clinics at the Oval Track should teach their students on the proper use/etiquette to be observed while running or walking at the oval track. 

After the workout, it was nice to hear the stories and experiences of the Team BR Professionals who participated in the latest “The Bull Runner Dream Marathon” held in the early morning of Saturday. You did great, guys! It was nice also to congratulate Mari Javier of Team BR Professionals who got the Champion Award for the RUNNEX 1oK Run held last Sunday morning at the UP Campus and another Champion Award for the Call Center’s 10K Night Fun Run held in the evening of the same day at the MOA Complex.

The BR Speed Training Staff & Elites are really proud of you! Congratulations!!!

Two or Three Days Rests

Last week, I had a 3-day rest (Monday to Wednesday) from running and resumed my running on the morning of Thursday at the ULTRA Oval Track. I did a 10K run at the oval within my 97% Lactate Threshold with an average pace of 5:03 minutes/kilometer. On the following day, Friday morning, my son and I ran the route of the Happy Run 15K with 79%-80% Lactate Threshold with an average pace of 6:10 minutes/kilometer. However, during our scheduled “speed” session on Friday night, Maj Espejo gave us the usual instruction to run 75% of the distance we are going to run for the Sunday’s race at our 100%-110& Lactate Threshold. So, for the members who were scheduled to run the Happy Run 15K, they ran 11 Kilometers at their race pace and I ran 7.5 kilometers at my race pace for the Resolution Challenge 10K Run and finished it with an average pace of  4:48 minutes/kilometer. On the early morning of Saturday, I was back at the ULTRA Oval Track for my 30-minute “active recovery” run with a 70% Lactate Threshold or with a slow pace of 6:30 minutes/kilometer. Well, last Sunday, I finished the Resolution Challenge 10K Run with an average pace of 4:32 minutes per kilometer, barely missing eight (8) seconds from my 110% Lactate Threshold.

This week, I had another 2-day (Monday & Tuesday) complete rest from running.  I went to the gym after lunch yesterday for a 0ne-hour workout for my upper body and “core” muscles. After a short shower and changing my attire for running, I was already on my way to the ULTRA Oval Track for the Wednesday scheduled training. During our training session, the coaches gave us more new “jumping & bouncing” drills and “new” speed drills we had never experienced before. Our coaches keep on surprising us with their “gimmicks and techniques” wherein they explain the importance of each drill for us to improve our finish time and running technique & form. The best part of such explations is that our coaches deliver their point in English! I can say that almost 100% of the members keep on improving their finish time because of the “message/voice” of Coach Salazar which keeps on repeating to our ears & brains during weekend road races! Here comes now the best part—our “main course” for the day! We were directed to do 5 X 400 meters with 1:30-minute rest in-between interval at our 110% Lactate Threshold. That is just the starter. After 3-minute rest after finishing the 5 X 400, we have to do 2 sets of 15-minute runs with 3-minute rest in-between the sets within our 110% Lactate Threshold, too! There was no need to complain as we knew our coaches were leading us to a new and higher level of running performance. As my GF 305 was not working because of spent battery power, I really did not know how fast or slow we were running on those laps and sets. However, what I knew was that I became stronger and faster after those two days rests and did not have any leg pains or soreness even if I had my gym workout before this speed training session yesterday.

On these two or three days rests, I went to the province, away from the polluted air of Metro Manila. I just enjoyed the fresh air and the nice cold weather in Laoag City last week and in Cagayan Valley last Monday & Tuesday. No running but just a short walk to have a glimpse of those vast fields newly-planted with rice. Just breathing the fresh air around; enjoying the fresh foods which were home-cooked and sometimes, served “raw”; and resting and relaxing for the rest of the day during these days made me recover my tired muscles and I know my body is ready again for more running “adventures” in the coming days.

To all the runners, I suggest you take also a 2 or 3-day rest and drive/fly away from the noise, crowd, traffic and polluted air of Metro Manila and re-charge yourself. Just relax, eat, and breath the fresh air around you.

Also, to most of the runners who want to improve on their speed and finish times in their future road races, you should know your Lactate Threshold and be able to use it in your training. You should know the answers of the “WHY” you are doing those repetitive interval runs of 100, 200, 400, or 800-meter or other speed runs on the track and your “fartleks” in your road runs. Not knowing the reason/s why you are doing something to improve your running is not good for your training.

(Note: For those runners who do not understand or don’t have any knowledge about Lactate Threshold, join or visit our “speed training” sessions at the ULTRA Oval Track, our coaches will be glad to explain it to you. If interested, our coaches will be glad also to test and find out your Lactate Threshold. For our schedules of training, please visit

How Does It Feel To Run 127K In A Week?

Last week (5-11 January), without being conscious about the number of kilometers I’ve ran the whole week, I was able to increase my 80-105-kilometer average weekly runs to 127 kilometers. Let me explain how I was able to run such number of kilometers.

Last Monday evening, I ran 20.3 kilometers at the ULTRA Oval Track where I was running alone for the first 10K with an average pace of 5:10-5:15 mins/km. For the last 10K run, MarkFB joined me and we were running at an average pace of 5:30 mins/km. I was surprised that I was still strong during the run even if I had a “runabout” at EDSA the day before. I think I got my strength and was able to recover after resting the remaining dayof Sunday after the “runabout” and sleeping early in the evening.

I had a “double run” on Tuesday where I ran a fast 30-minute continous run in the morning and another interval speed runs in the evening. In the morning, I was able to run a distance of 6.6 kilometers in 31:52 minutes with an average pace of 4:49 mins/km. In the evening, I did 5 X 400 at an average time of 1:36 minutes per lap with 1 1/2 minutes of rest in between laps. These laps registered an average pace of 3:45 mins/km. Unbelievable!. After five-minute rest, I did a 30-minute speed run at 100% effort. I was able to finish 5.9 kilometers with an average pace of 5:06 minutes/km. The evening speed run was part of our regular “speed training” with the Team Bald Runner. To include my warm-up runs, I was able to run 17.3 kilometers for the day.

On Wednesaday, another “double” run for me. My morning run was devoted to my “active recovery” run where I was able to run 5 kilometers in 31 minutes with an average pace of 6:31 mins/km. I was running within my 70% effort. In the evening, I joined the regular speed training classes and we did 5 X 1,000 meters at our best effort or 110% effort where I averaged a time of 4:40 minutes per kilometer. After the speed interval run, we had a 45-minute run within our 80%-85% effort. I finished the 45-minute run with a distance of 8.26 kilometers and with an average pace of 5:39 mins/km. Total distance covered for the day was 19.8 kilometers.

On Thursday evening, I did a “pyramid” speed run (3K-2K-1K-2K-3K) with an average pace of 4:50-5:00 mins/km. To include my warm-up, jogging in-between laps, and cool-down jog, I was able to run a total distance of 14 kilometers.

On Friday, I had my “active recovery” run after my warm-up run. The run lasted for 32 minutes where I covered a distance of 5 kilometers. Total distance for the day was 6.7 kilometers.

On Saturday morning, the Team Bald Runner went to the ULTRA Oval Track in order to attend to new students for our speed training but nobody came. Instead, I started my run later in the morning with the sun already shining. I tried to experience the feeling of running with the heat of the sun on my body. I was accompanied by Coach Salazar for a 15K run. We were able to finish the run in 1:18 hours with an average pace of 5:14 mins/km. I was able to consume the water inside my 2.0-Liter TNF “bladder” during the duration of the said run. This proves that I should need a lot of water to hydrate myself while running under the heat of the sun. This run was part of my training for the Bataan 102 Ultramarathon Race. The total distance was 16.8 kilometers.

The Hardcore Group’s “Runabout” along C-5 Highway Loop came next the following day. We finished 32.1 kilometers for that day.

This was my first time to reach this number of kilometers for a week in my running workouts. I felt tired and wasted after the “runabout” last Sunday and I did not mind not being able to watch the movie “Baler” as I opted to rest and sleep for the rest of the day. I started to feel pain on some of the muscles of my legs and knees but through regular massage and more intake of protein drinks, these pains are slowly fading away. For this week, I slowed down with my mileage and hopefully will be able to recover for another PR time this Sunday although my weekly road races will be my assessment/evaluation tool if I am really improving with my time as a result of my “speed” training with the Team Bald Runner.

See you at the PSE Bull Run this Sunday morning.

“Real warriors” never surrender; they fight up to their last breath!

100 Days: One Friday Evening Workout

7:03 PM 19 December 2008 @ ULTRA Oval Track

Yes, on this day (26 Dec 08), you have 100 days before the Inaugural Bataan Death March 102K Ultramarathon Race!

I attended the Friday session of our “speed” training, barely two days before last Sunday’s Patakbo sa Kabundukan. After the usual warm-up easy run around the oval track for four laps and almost 40-minute stretching and drill runs supervised by Coach Salazar, we had a 5-minute rest for water break and personal necessities.

All the participants in the “speed” training were surprised to hear from Coach Espejo what we had to do. We were told to run 75% of the distance we had to run for the Sunday’s race with our best effort or race pace. The rest of the students did not have any race to participate for the coming Sunday but they opted to run 75% for an imaginary 10K race. Since I was scheduled to participate in the Patakbo Sa Kabundukan’s 21K Run, I had to run 15.75K with my best effort.

According to Coach Espejo, the reason why we had to this kind of speed training two days before race day was to simulate what the body would do and expect during race day. However, he advised us to follow it up with another 30-minute active recovery run on the day before the race at 70% effort.

On that Friday evening workout, I ended doing 16.25K with an average pace of 4:45 mins/km for the 1st 10 kilometers and slowed down to an average of 5:00 mins/km for the next 5 kilometers and later picked up my pace on the last kilometer at 4:50 mins/km. Overall, I had an average pace of 4:54 mins/km. The speed run training culminated with a one lap walking and stretching exercises.

After this Friday evening workout, I realized that my “speed endurance”  was only good for 10 kilometers. I was not surprised about my assessment on my endurance because after I finished the MILO National Finals Marathon, my training were geared towards two successive 10K road races and most of my runs were active recovery runs after the Marathon Race and I never had any running workout for a distance more than 10 kilometers.

After assessing my endurance capability with the said speed workout, I formulated my race strategy for the Sunday’s 21K run—I had to slow down with my average pace on the 1st 5K and slowly increasing the pace on the 6th to 11thK, and race on my best up to 110% effort for the last 10 kilometers. If not for those jeepneys, tricycles, & garbage trucks along the route and lack of road marshalls, I could had made a better time on my last 10 kilometers. I experienced my first “negative split” in a half-marathon distance in this road race.

So, one of the “secrets” in our speed training is already out for other competitive runners to try and follow—run 75% of the race distance you have to compete two days before race day with your best effort (100%) and follow it up with a 30-minute active recovery run at your 70% effort a day before race day. This should be done if the road race for Sunday is a half-marathon and lesser distance road runs.

Reminder: To The “Hardcore Group” & Future Fast Runners

The “Free” Speed Training at the ULTRA Oval Track will start this afternoon at 5:30 PM and it will be followed with another one tomorrow at the same time and next Friday afternoon. Henceforth, this speed training will be done on the said days and time on a regular basis.

The speed training requires each runner to report in their running attire (leave your Ipods at home!). Each runner will be given a “diagnostic test” to determine your level of competency in running. Of course, you will be told to run at your race pace for a certain period of time. Capt Espejo will start from there out from the results of this test. For you to hear his instructions while you are running, again, you have to leave your Ipod at home. Aside from the instructions, Coach Salazar will remind you to hear the sound of your feet/shoes everytime they hit the ground/track.

For the other runners, you will learn also the technique of drinking of water from those cups while running. Your mentors will provide you with drinking water during the training.

Remember, our training is “low-tech”—no computers, no screens, no LCD projector, no Public Address System, & no comfortable chairs (you will be seating on the bleachers or on the track). This is a “personalized” training and your workout will be different from the other runners. That’s the reason why you are called “The Hardcores” or the “Road Warriors”.

Good luck! Lastly, this is FREE!!!

FREE Speed Training For “Hardcores”

Team Bald Runner is inviting runners who have been training/running continouosly for one year for a “free and personalized” speed training lectures and speed workouts at the ULTRA Oval Track every 5:30-7:00 PM on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. This is open to everybody, male and female, who are in competitive running and would like to improve their PR Best times in every road race. This training will start on 18 November 2008.

Captain Ferdie Espejo Jr and Coach Saturnino Salazar, both Level 4 IAAF trained-coaches, will conduct the said training and to be assisted by members of Team Bald Runner.

Runners are advised to prepare P29.00 for payment to Philsports/ULTRA for the use of the Oval Track.

Duathletes & Triathletes are also encouraged to join this training.

Tempo Run

29 December 2007 (AM Run)

I did a modified speed/”fartlek” run this morning along the 2-mile route inside the camp with the goal of running 6.2 miles or 10 kilometers to find out if I can still improve my time. Using the TIMEX “Zone Trainer Digital Heart Rate Monitor”, I would like also to experience the feeling of reaching my Maximum Heart Rate during my speed run workout.

I made three rounds along the 2-mile route inside the camp and additional 400 meters to complete the distance of 6.2 miles or 10 kilometers. I registered the following split times every round:

1st round—-16:25 mins

2nd round—-31:44 mins

3rd round—-47:49 mins

400 meters—-49:52 mins

From my TIMEX Zone Trainer Heart Monitor, I got the following data:

Peak Heart Rate—-173

Minimum Heart Rate—143

Average Heart Rate—-157

Total Calories—-769

I made a 1-mile cool-down run at 9:00 min pace/mile after the speed run and it was followed by stretching.

It appears that I am slowly improving my time for the 10K distance.