I recently got my VO2max tested and I’m extremely low at 41.92mL/kg.min. At the same time, I feel like VO2max workouts are “easier” than sustained efforts. I’m left gasping for air, but it’s not as painful as sustained efforts.
What does that mean? I would figure that with a low VO2max rating, my body would lean towards efforts at threshold or below but it seems to be able to knock out VO2max efforts at above the prescribed intensities.
This is my understanding from listening to the podcast and reading Things on the Internet, so take it with a grain of salt (and please correct errors): The VO2max “zone” is an approximation of the power you need to generate to reach the VO2max physiological response, when you’re consuming the most oxygen your body can possibly handle. When you train and your FTP goes up, your body needs less oxygen to hit the same watts. Your VO2max capacity hasn’t necessarily increased; your body has become more efficient with oxygen. You need to generate more power to get that physiological response.
That said, like @bbarrera said, your VO2max capacity itself is trainable. Ideally, as you train you’re both becoming more efficient with oxygen, and increasing how much oxygen you can process. It’s two orthogonal adaptations.
Having a 41.92mL/Kg/min relative VO2max means nothing with out associated power. You (we) are good at what system we train the most honestly. So for someone with a relative VO2max of 90 who never train VO2max will probably suffer/feel the same as you. The guy with 90 is probably generating way more power than you but, performing relatively the same as you.
+1 and VO2max work has a significant mental component. With more TR training history, my comments on VO2 workouts have gone from that was a horrible experience to solid effort no backpedaling required.