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Running Research News And Events
December 16, 2011

    What is the best possible workout for advancing your running velocity at lactate-threshold? Best Lactate-Threshold

    That is an important but "dangerous" question. After all, a single workout does not exist in a training vacuum, producing adaptations which occur totally uniquely, without any influence from the overall training plan in which the workout is deployed. In one set of circumstances, for example, a session of 3 X 1600 at 5-K race pace might help put a sharper edge on a runner's vVO2max. In a different context, the 3 X 1600 could push the same athlete "over the brink" into an over-trained state.

    Nonetheless, we know that certain sessions can produce unique effects on lactate-threshold speed, and that these effects are often specific to the runner involved in the training. For example, running for 60 minutes at a moderate pace (below lactate-threshold velocity) probably will have a significant, positive effect on lactate-threshold speed for the relatively inexperienced runner who has been logging about 10 to 15 miles of running per week. However, this same session would have no effect at all on lactate-threshold velocity for the experienced, 70-mile per week runner who has been engaged in lots of high-quality training. The latter individual would probably have to soar up to intensities of 90 to 95 percent of VO2max and beyond to get lactate-threshold speed moving in the right direction.

    As you can see, it is possible to give specific workouts the "thumbs-up" or "thumbs-down" sign when it comes to lactate-threshold improvement, and one of our tasks as runners is to identify the sessions which are likely to have the greatest impact on threshold and then position them properly in our training. Best Lactate-Threshold

    But how do we identify such sessions? Fortunately, that job has been made easier for us, thanks to recent work carried out by Carl Paton and Will Hopkins of the Centre for Sport and Exercise Science at the Waikato Institute of Technology and the Department of Sport and Recreation at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand (1). Paton and Hopkins have conducted an extensive literature search for scientific papers dealing with the effects of training on the performance and physiology of endurance athletes.

    This search used stringent criteria. For examplem Paton and Hopkins excluded studies which investigated the effects of training on performance in subjects who were merely recreationally active, instead of being involved in serious training. The New-Zealand duo also eliminated inquiries carried out with individuals who did not have the characteristics of serious endurance athletes ( for example, exercisers with low aerobic capacities, low training frequencies, etc.). The studies examined by Paton and Hopkins also had to be peer-reviewed and published in a respected scientific journal.

    In addition to looking for research which explored the link between training and improvement in lactate-threshold speed, Paton and Hopkins also searched for studies whick looked at the effects of training on general endurance performance, maximum power (measured during an incremental test), maximal oxygen consumption, exercise economy, and body mass. Included in the Paton-Hopkins diggings were studies which focused on moderate- and high-intensity interval training, tempo running, plyometrics, and resistance training.

    The study which produced the greatest increase in lactate threshold in runners was the research (often mentioned in the pages of Running Research News) carried out by Leena Paavolainen and Heikki Rusko in which experienced runners reduced their mileage from 70 to 45 miles per week, substituting( for this mileage) explosive training which includes progressive series of jumps, bounds, hops, and very fast running(2). The jumping-bounding-hopping-sprinting workouts designed by Paavolainen-Rusko team, carried out three times a week for nine weeks, yielded about a 6.8-percent increase in lactate threshold. Best Lactate-Threshold

    Almost as good for threshold were the workouts employed by Edmund Acevedo and Allan Goldfarb of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in their study of seven well-trained male distance runners (3). These runners had an average age of 22, and they were actively involved in competitive racing; mean VO2max was 65.3 As the study began, the young runners were training six to seven days per week, averaging five to 12 miles of daily running. Weekly volume averaged 50 to 65 miles before and throughout the investigation. RRNEWS Subscription