>General Running>Training pace, % of VO2 max and training intensity
Of course the relationship is meaningful. If you have a VDOT estimate based on a true maximum effort, and your training runs, based on distance and pace, are worth a high percentage of your VDOT, it probably means that you're training way too hard. The only exception would be if your VDOT is from a fairly long race, in which case it's probably not your real VDOT. (Very few people are well enough trained to maintain "ideal" relationships between their shorter and longer race times.)
You don't need to know your VO2Max for anything. VDOT, which is basically velocity at VO2Max, is the meaningful measurement because it incorporates both VO2Max and running economy--the two variables that together determine performance. I'm always amazed by how everyone wants to know their VO2Max, when nobody seems that interested in the blood lactate concentrations that correspond to maximum steady state. In the lactate threshold context, everybody understands that it's PACE that matters, not some meaningless chemical measurement. But once we start talking about maximum oxygen uptake, everyone gets obsessed with how much fuel the engine can burn and they forget to think about how fast the car can go.
What was the secret, they wanted to know; in a thousand different ways they wanted to know The Secret. And not one of them was prepared, truly prepared to believe that it had not so much to do with chemicals and zippy mental tricks as with that most unprofound and sometimes heart-rending process of removing, molecule by molecule, the very tough rubber that comprised the bottoms of his training shoes. The Trial of Miles, Miles of Trials. How could they be expected to understand that? -John Parker
Many many long years ago Daniels and another dude published this:
VO2 (generally, NOT necessarily max) = -4.60 + 0.182258v + 0.000104v^2
where v = running velocity in meters/minute (yeah, weird units), and VO2 = rate of oxygen consumption normalized to body mass in ml/kg/min; a convenient closed-form relationship between how fast you gotta go through the Os to run at a certain speed.
Anyway, it seems to me that there you have enough. If you have your VO2-max (or some close estimate based on race effort), then this relationship would tell you what you need to know to figure out exactly what pace = X% of your VO2-max. Still doesn't directly answer the OP's question relating online VO2max results from different levels of effort, but it gives him an answer.
BTW, I like this comment:
But once we start talking about maximum oxygen uptake, everyone gets obsessed with how much fuel the engine can burn and they forget to think about how fast the car can go.
We are fragile creatures on collision with our judgment day.
I've got a fever...
On your deathbed, you won't wish that you'd spent more time at the office. But you will wish that you'd spent more time running. Because if you had, you wouldn't be on your deathbed.
Thanks to everyone who popped in, I didn't know the Daniels "intensity" tables and I do like the look of them, they seem to answer my question very well, i.e. they measure how much of a strain a particular workout will have taken on you - I do tend to do things by feel but sometimes you underestimate things and become a bit overtrained.
Just restarting a marathon training cycle, taking it step by step, so it helps