If you’re an avid runner or triathlete you’ve probably heard the term of lactate threshold training. Now is this a fancy name for smoke screen or does it really have some significance to your physical performance? Let’s dig a little bit to find out!
What is lactate?
Lactate(lactic acid) also known commonly as milk acid is a chemical compound that was discovered in the 18th century by a Swedish chemist. Now it wasn’t until in the 20th century that individuals started to put it together with fitness training.
Now this effects our bodies in many ways, typically our bodies like to generate the energy from aerbobic methods (with oxygen). However when doing anaerobic training like lifting heavy weights for example we need faster energy production than our bodies can generate alone from delivering oxygen into the muscles. So this energy comes from glucose and the process of glycolysis (glucose broken down into pyruvate). Now pyruvate gets sent to places in the body for further breakdown to supply energy but when the body is limited on oxygen it will temporarily convert pyruvate into lactate which allows the cycle of glucose break down to continue. This type of energy production is high rate and can continue for 1-3 minutes during this time lactate levels grow very high.
So what is lactate threshold?
In most causes the lactate levels stay steady but during increased strenuous activity is when it builds up faster than it can be removed from the blood. This in turn results in your lactate threshold. Once you cross this threshold you become tired, fatigued and if you’re running you may notice your pace drop all of a sudden.
You can raise your lactate threshold through proper training and learn how to stay close but not over it. This allows you to use lactate more efficiently so that it takes longer to build up in the blood. Now it’s important to know lactate threshold training is most beneficial for endurance athletes or triathletes. If you’re a sprinter or strength training then it will be beneficial but not of great use.
Improving lactate threshold
The hardest part is to understand your body and continue to push for new limits but not overexert yourself. For example in long distance running, consider increase your distance by 5-10% each week. You’ll notice after a few weeks that you can run longer and harder before the pace drops which could mean your lactate threshold is getting higher allowing you to do more.
Once you have completed mileage increase. Look into max training which means running your distance with a hard to somewhat hard pace. Eventually you’ll become used to training right at your lactate threshold.
Lastly you can follow it up with some interval training to get added benefits from both types of exercise. Just remember to listen to your body and don’t overdo it. If you push too hard from the beginning you might get injured or actually hinder your results. Our bodies are always more durable than we think but always know we are still just flesh and bone!