What is VDOT?

I mention the term “VDOT’ a lot in my blog posts and (understandably), a lot of people don’t know what the heck I’m talking about.  I base most of my training these days off of what I’ve learned from a book called Daniels’ Running Formula by Jack Daniels (the running coach, not the whiskey distiller – though I’m a fan of both).

In short, VDOT is a way of determining one’s training intensity based upon a recent race performance.  The long version is that VDOT refers to the rate at which oxygen is consumed – the volume of oxygen consumed per minute.  You can read more about the science behind it in Conditioning for Distance Running: The Scientific Aspects by Daniels, Fitts and Sheehan.

To learn more about how to determine your VDOT and how to apply it to your training, I highly recommend Daniels’ Running Formula.  It contains a table to determine one’s VDOT based on times in various race distances.  From there, you can determine appropriate paces for various workouts.  The whole book is a useful read as it helps you understand why you do different types of workouts.  The book has definately taken my running to the next level.


  1. Can someone please tell me what VDOT actual stands for!!! I ve bought Jack Daniels book, trawled the internet & still with no success, is it a secret or does no-one actually know what it stands for????Many Thanks Mark.

  2. VDOT is simply a measure of your current ability based on race performance. It is mathematical calculation that is a pseudo representation for your aerobic capacity, or the maximum amount of oxygen your body is capable of consuming per minute during exercise. Aerobic capacity is generally symbolized by a capital V with a dot over it (repesenting volume), followed by a capital O and a subscript 2 (the chemical representation of oxygen gas) and a subscript “max” indicating it is the maximum volume of oxygen processed. When reading this symbol, it is pronounced: “V-dot-O-2-max”. Daniels just shortened that to use the term “VDOT”.

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