MAS is a familiar term for runners. Who has never heard the question “What is your MAS” in a discussion between runners? Let’s look at the definition of maximum aerobic speed, how to calculate it, and most importantly, how to use it properly in training.
Definition of MAS?
The maximum aerobic speed, which we can abbreviate to MAS, is the speed at which the runner reaches his maximum oxygen consumption: the VO2Max. Beyond this pace, one quickly gets tired and the effort becomes more intense.
The maximum aerobic speed can be maintained between 4 and 7 minutes, depending on the runner. What is a good MAS? The speed ranges from 10 km/h for beginners to more than 24 km/h for the best in the world. Marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge has a MAS of 24.3 km/h.
But be careful: the maximum aerobic speed is not the maximum speed a runner can run. So it is possible to exceed the 100% MAS, in a sprint of a few seconds the runner will be faster.
In other endurance sports like cycling there is a similar concept: MAP: Maximal Aerobic Power.
What is the purpose of determining this speed?
To progress in running and become a little faster, it is interesting to train intervals. If the MAS can be kept between 4 and 7 minutes with a continuous effort, it is possible to run at this pace between 10 and 20 minutes if you combine your run with fast repetitions and lower sections.
These sessions with short intervals are for example:
- 10x400m on the track with a recovery time of 1 minute
- 20x(30”-30), 30 fast seconds and 30 lower seconds
How can you calculate your MAS?
There are numerous tests for MAS, and it is very likely that the result will not be the same if you decide to take several different tests.
Our favorite test MAS: the Half Cooper
The Cooper test (developed by an American PhD) consists of running as long a distance as possible in 12 minutes. As already indicated, the maximum aerobic speed can only be maintained for 4 to 6 minutes, so the half Cooper, which lasts 6 minutes, is more accurate.
Run the longest possible distance for 6 minutes. Then divide the distance traveled in meters by 100 to get your MAS. If you ran 1500 meters, you have a MAS of 15 km/h. Useful, isn’t it?
Start with a 15-minute warm-up and finish with 2 15-second accelerations. Then you are ready for this quite intense effort.
The laboratory test with a cardiologist or sports doctor
Your doctor will work with you to determine the procedure for the exercise test on a treadmill. The speed of the treadmill will be gradually increased every 2 to 3 minutes until exhaustion. The doctor will make sure your body is responding well to the exertion by tracking various heart parameters and the amount of oxygen consumed. The lab test is the only way to determine your VO2 max. GPS Watches provide only approximate values.
The disadvantage is that the speed of the treadmill is often not properly calibrated. Therefore, the speed during the test does not correspond to that of a comeback on a track or road. The cardio data can be used normally.
Now it is possible to perform a VO2max test on a distance of 400 m with a small ergospirometry device that weighs less than 1kg. These tests are the most efficient to measure your MAS and your VO2max.
These performance tests also allow you to determine your running pace, commonly referred to as baseline endurance, and thus avoid always running too fast. As for runners on the track, the power tests can be used to measure the lactic acid accumulated at the end of the test and the effectiveness of the anaerobic zone.
In the athletics clubs: the Luc-Léger test with signal tones and the VAMEVAL test
There are 2 tests with signal tones where you have to reach cones when you hear the signal. The test is a bit complicated to organize and is performed by coaches in athletics clubs.
The Luc Léger test (developed by a Canadian PhD) is used mainly in collegiate sports and at the secondary level, and proposes to run and beam at 20 meters. It is not suitable for runners.
The VAMEVAL test, on the other hand, is performed on a 400-meter track. It is offered in many clubs in September.
Calculate your MAS without test, from results of runs
Using 2 run results (over different distances), you can estimate your maximum aerobic speed by predicting the speed at which you could run a 6 minute race.
This method is really the only way to determine your endurance. You can have the exact same MAS as a friend, but finish 20 minutes ahead of them in a marathon: In other words, you have more endurance.
We have developed a tool that allows you to accurately and easily calculate your MAS based on the results of runs. This method is usually more accurate than tests, because we are usually at our best during competitions.
When do I do the MAS test?
Ideally, you should take one of these tests at least 2 weeks after you have completed a training cycle to get a representative value for your level. If you are progressing quickly, you can take another test every 2 months to see where you are.
To measure your progress, there is nothing better than entering competitions and breaking your own records.
You can improve your MAS at any age. For well-trained runners, maximum aerobic speed generally reaches its maximum at age 30. By training close to your maximum heart rate (HRMax), you can improve your MAS.
I have my MAS now: how do I use it?
Numerous tables at MAS give you clues to your 10-km pace, for example, for a marathon. Is this reliable? Yes and no, it all depends on your endurance. Endurance is the ability to maintain a pace for a given time.
The current best marathon runner, Eliud Kipchoge, can run the marathon in 2 hours at 84% of his maximum aerobic speed. If you run the marathon in a time of 5 hours, the effort is about 60% of your MAS.
Therefore, you need to consider the runner's endurance and add maximum aerobic speed to determine your training pace and heart rate zones.
The RunMotion Coach app gives you directly the right speeds (10km, half marathon, marathon…) according to your MAS and your endurance. No more connection tables and calculations, you have everything at your fingertips and a customized training plan. The insurance to reach your next goal 😉