First of all, what is your lactate threshold and why is it such an important factor in your running abilities? For the untrained person, lactate threshold training is something unheard of, but what the pros know is that this is a very important element to consider.
The lactate threshold is the point at which your blood-lactate level soars. This is during exercise that increases with intensity. Let me explain. When your body is working at a normal level and all of its oxygen needs are being met, your lactate levels are lower. The harder you exercise, though, the more demanding your body becomes and the harder it is to get the level of oxygen it needs. Anaerobic glycolysis kicks in. When this happens, it produces energy for your body to use as well as lactic acid. The key is once your body produces more lactic acid then it can handle, your performance suffers. Your energy production slows down. Your muscle contraction slows down. And, you begin to fatigue.
The goal is to run as long as you can without crossing your lactate threshold level. For the untrained, their threshold level is at 50 to 60% of their maximum output while elite professionals threshold level is 70-90% of maximum output. Lactate threshold training is working slightly above this level, which will help you push harder and accomplish more in your running.
First things first, you need to know where you stand. What is your lactate threshold? You have two choices. You can have blood drawn while exercising, but this isn't convenient, is it? Or, you can do this. Take your 5K race pace and add 35 to 40 seconds per mile or add 15 to 25 seconds per mile to your 10-K pace.
Now your are ready to start the training. Choose between two methods, but insure that you are using a solid warm up and cool down period with each workout. Most experts recommend a one to two mile warm up and a few strides. For the cool down, another one to two miles is needed.
Kenyan runners are known to be tempo runners. Put a weekly tempo run into your schedule. Run at a steady lactate threshold pace for 20 minutes. Then, gradually extend this over four to six weeks to four and then five miles. You need a flat road or track to run so you can check your mile splits to keep your pace steady. You'll need to keep an even pace through the end of the run. If not, you are going too fast.
The workout is created by Rodolfo Gomez of Mexico. He finished second at New York in 1982. He has coached runners like German Silva and Adriana Fernandez. You may know them as former New York City Marathon winners. This workout that Gomez has developed has gotten a lot of recognition as being quite successful.
This method of lactate threshold running includes 1000 meter repeats at lactate threshold pace. The key to this workout is there are only 60 seconds of recovery between each repeat. Why such a short time? You barely have enough time to grab a few breaths and shake your legs! But, this is successful because you get the mental break you need and the repeats are short enough to keep your blood lactate level close to the threshold level.
For elite runners, Gomez would have them run upwards to 15 of these. For a beginner, or the untrained lactate threshold individual, starting at four and working up to either seven or ten is an ideal goal. Your goal is to keep these consistent with short breaks. If you are too tired, then you need to run slower as you are simply starting out too fast. Lactate threshold training is what will keep you in the game and pushing harder for faster results.
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