Unfortunately, a majority of runners learn it the hard away that long distance running offers anything but instant gratification. Whoever believes that running fast will win you the race is wrong, and we are most certainly not placing our case based on the rabbit and the tortoise story. Time has proven it again and again that running fast is not a sane man’s choice as it has led to multiple injuries and overtraining instead of personal bests. Running for as long as you can at your maximum speed doesn’t reap promising results, which is one reason why most athletes and personal trainers are re-focusing their attention on running smart rather than running fast. But what does that even mean?
Running smart means opting for workouts that naturally increase one’s performance over time as it targets core body muscles at precise paces to reach a specific goal, such as winning a long-distance race.
In the not-so-long-past, VO2 max was considered pivotal for successful performance when taking part in endurance exercises but in recent times, research has shown that the anaerobic threshold, synonymously known as the lactate threshold, is a much better indicator of performance. This discovery alone compels athletes to demand workouts solely dedicated to maximize their endurance while performing. Studies are showing that the most effective way to achieve that is through anaerobic training.
In this blog, we shall discuss two such training methods central to increase an athlete’s anaerobic threshold. But first, let’s begin with the basics of what the anaerobic threshold actually is.
Understanding Anaerobic Training
When one talks of marathons and long distance running, one of the most common terms associated with it is anaerobic threshold. The term anaerobic means “without oxygen”. According to the science of exercise, this refers to strength-building exercises in comparison to endurance training.
Anaerobic threshold (AT) can be described as the physiological point in exercising where the lactic acid in one’s body starts to accumulate in the muscles faster than it gets cleared away. This happens when one is performing a hardcore workout routine, such as long interval running. It is for this reason that the term is often interchangeably used with lactate threshold. But only a core athlete knows that they are not the same thing.
When the question is how one can increase their anaerobic threshold, many physical trainers recommend the following two training methods.
Training Method 1: Long Interval Training
The first method involves high-intensity training for a shorter amount of time span at a velocity above the anaerobic threshold. These high-intensity sessions vary, but most typically involve training at 15 RPE but less than 20 RPE, which recovery runs less than 12 RPE. While training to increase anaerobic threshold, an individual’s interval training must not exceed more than 10% of the weekly training level.
But then again, this is not the only metric to live by. If a determined athlete wishes to further increase his/her lactate threshold, it will only be time well spent. But there are some factors that might hinder one athlete’s performance from another, which include age restrictions, training levels, body mass, goals, and the time dedicated to perform high-intensity trainings.
Training Method 2: Pace of the Race
The second method involves the pace of the race. Paces are most commonly expressed in mins/mile or mins/km. These paces can further be classified as RPE and intensity. Why? It’s because when an individual is running in a windy condition or on an undulated ground, pace becomes meaningless. The 8 minutes that you walked up a hill are different from the 8 minutes you took to reach downhill.
For most beginner runners, and even some experienced ones, the hardest thing to understand is the threshold pace.
T-pace is among the most productive training types ideal for long distance runners. Training at the threshold pace allows runners to prevent overtraining and has proven to yield better consistency and satisfying workouts.
The reason it is termed as threshold pace is because it explains the intensity at which physiological changes at the lactate turnout occur. It is the point at which lactate acid accumulates faster in the muscles and is also cleared from the blood at a faster rate. If we increase the speed, it helps the individual run faster. Prolonged training at the same pace allows the trainer to increase its body’s ability to do just that. It is due to this reason that it is most effective.