You know when you’re running really fast, maybe even sprinting, and you feel the burning sensation in your legs and you feel that copper-y taste in your mouth? That’s the byproduct of you pushing your body to it’s limits, and that byproduct is called lactic acid. The body can easily manage and remove lactic acid during aerobic exercise (running) and by doing this it is maintaining itself BELOW the lactate threshold.
When performing anaerobic exercise (sprinting or HIIT) the body produces way more lactic acid than it can get rid of and so the acid starts building up - causing the burning sensation. That’s when the body goes PAST and ABOVE the lactate threshold. So, simply put, the lactate threshold marks the boundary between aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
In speed workouts, your goal is to allow your body to adapt to different speed variations and promote the ability to remove lactic acid from the body with increased efficiency. Now remember, these changes happen over time and with continuous progression. One speed session won’t turn you into Mo Farrah! This needs to be a planned, consistent progression.
Speaking of progression, let’s talk a little bit about periodisation. This term is used a lot when coaches/athletes are planning the running year (which races they’re going to participate in, what type of training they’ll do at which point in the season, etc…). Periodization is used in much broader terms such as macro, meso and microcycles but we won’t get into that right now - all I want to say is be careful when you’re planning out your training!
For a beginner, one speed focused session per week is enough, advanced runners can experiment and adapt to their own needs. Another important thing is that you should NEVER, EVER, EVER perform speed training sessions back to back. Always perform a speed session on the day AFTER a slow jog and make sure to have a rest day or an easy jog on the day AFTER the speed session. This is especially true for beginners! You can be a little more flexible with fartlek sessions.
Let’s dive right into the 3 main speed sessions you should include in your training…
Remember, if you want to create a plan and use these techniques, you must take periodisation into account – it will help you in the long run (pun intended)! Hopefully these tips will help you reach your goals and smash your PR’s! Speaking of PR’s, let me ask you a question! How do you organize your race results?
You don’t? You should! One of the best feelings you can get as a runner is looking back and reviewing your past results only to realize you’ve made major improvements! The best way to keep your race results organized is to create your own RunPage! RunPage allows you to build your own Runner Profile and create your RunPage’s in which you can upload your images, your finish time, your bib number and more! Give it a try – you wont regret it.
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