Nathan Pennington Running in The Distance

How To Run Faster By Using Lactic Acid

How to run faster

Knowing how to run faster is a matter of knowing how to train with lactic acid. This is why the best runners make it look so easy.

how to run faster

The hardest part of training to hold a specific pace for a specific race distance. How does on counteract the slowing effects of lactic acid?

What is Lactic Acid?

Lactic acid is created in the body.

In fact, as you are reading this your body already has a level of lactic acid build up. That being said, you don’t notice it because it is far too low to cause you any stress.

It is created by red blood cells in your muscle tissues.

Carbohydrates are able to be broken down into carbon dioxide and water with sufficient oxygen present. What happens when not enough is?

Lactate is produced when your body doesn’t have enough oxygen. It cannot break down carbs into carbon dioxide and water. The result? Lactic acid is created within the body.

WHAT IS HAPPENING WHEN YOU SLOW DOWN IN A RACE?

You slow down because it interferes with nerves and muscle functioning and slows down energy reactions.

The hydrogen ion within lactic acid that is to blame for impairing muscle contraction.

Your body’s preference for delivering oxygen is clearly via aerobic means. It is very easy to go out for an easy run or a walk. That being said, is it difficult to try doing a set of 400m repeats on the track. Why?

More oxygen is required.

Your body functions, thrives and needs oxygen. It is when you go anaerobic that things become complicated and effort is harder to sustain.

Why do we slow in a race? Our energy demands exceed our ability to deliver oxygen to our muscles.

IS LACTIC ACID THE REASON I AM SORE THE DAY AFTER A HARD EFFORT?max international independent associate

Lactic acid is not the reason you are sore from the workouts you do.

This is muscle inflammation due to muscle damage from the hard session.

Runners many times mistaken lactic acid as the cause for why they are sore.

The real reason is inflammation from the hard workout they did and muscle tissue damage.

WHAT ARE SOME WAYS TO GET RID OF LACTIC ACID?

Rest and allow yourself proper recovery between your next hard session.

You’ll never ‘get rid of’ lactic acid.

The body continues to produce it within the body even as you sleep.

Fortunately, lactic acid does stay at high levels.

Lactic acid is a chemical reaction. Furthermore, when you slow your pace your body’s ability to use lactate for energy slows. Thus, it catches up with the rate of lactate production.

Why Can’t I Maintain Pace?

A big cause for this is that as mentioned above. Our body functions on an aerobic level. As long as there is ample amounts of oxygen we have full muscle function.

Our reliance on carbohydrates (glucose and glycogen) during maximal efforts is one of the main causes for us having to slow down in the race.

WHY?

Running easy means you have heavy reliance on slow twitch muscle fibers. In addition, you have the proper amount of oxygen delivery to your muscles.

The more fast twitch muscle fibers you can recruit the more economical you are going to run.

In addition, the problem lies in how do you train your body to handle lactic acid build up?

The only way to do it is by training at higher exertion rates.

It is isn’t a question so much of how do I lessen lactic acid accumulation our bodies.

How can we used it more effectively?

Auburn Professor Bruce Gladden stated,

The world’s best athletes stay competitive by interval training. The intense exercise generates big lactate loads, and the body adapts by building up mitochondria to clear lactic acid quickly. If you use it up (as an energy source), it doesn’t accumulate.

Furthermore, the faster and longer you train the more you teach your body to handle and process the usage of lactic acid as a fuel source.

The more reliance on fat as your main fuel source at higher exertion rates the better. In addition, the longer and faster you are going to run.

Dr. Thomas D. Fahey, Professor of Exercise Physiology at California State University at Chico said this beautifully,

Burning fat as fuel has this function, it decreases lactate formation and speeds its removal.

Higher intensity running delays the onset of lactic acid accumulation. Furthermore, it teaches you to use more of it as fuel, rather than the other way around.

Side Effects of Lactic Acid

Well, it only takes about 30 minutes for lactic acid levels to get back to normal levels. So, once you stop exercising lactic acid levels lower.

The main side effect that comes from not being able to use lactic acid effectively? We are forced to slow down.

The only way to become more effective in using lactic acid is by doing intervals. What is the best pace?  Your focus should be on speeds exceeding your goal race pace.

You want to implement long runs at speeds closer to your anaerobic lactate threshold.

You want to use fat and lactic acid to your benefit and conserve carbohydrate. The key is to be able to sprint at the end of your race.

Researchers found that athletes working at 120 to 140 percent above their lactate threshold three times a week for five weeks showed an increase in their ability to counter hydrogen ions from building up in their blood streams.

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Focus On The Fundamentals

This is why we miss the mark sometimes in races.

Runners give up too early, selling themselves short as if they simply weren’t born fast.

They think they don’t have what it takes; they weren’t born with the big enough engine.

We both know you must have some genetic gifts but relying specifically on your genes is not enough.

I do believe in being rational but at the same time it doesn’t mean you can’t run up to your own expectations.

HOW ARE YOU PREPARING?

If your goal is to run a 2 hour half-marathon or a 4 hour marathon how often are you running at 9.09 per mile pace?

You have to adjust not only the way you are physically training but mentally training.

I want to know how to run faster but what is the underlying reason for me not being able to hold this pace? Is my goal above my capabilities or is it reasonable?

how to train for a marathonIf it is, then all I need to do is learn that pace and spend more time in that zone.

I can promise you it works. That being said, your recovery is equally important..

Are you disciplined enough to slow down when you are running with a group? Are they running faster than you need to go? What if it is your recovery day?

This is where discipline comes into play.

Be Patient

Far too many runners  are not patient enough.

WHAT DOES AN OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST HAVE TO SAY ABOUT IT?

Frank Shorter said,

when I train hard, my runs are very, very hard but on my easy days I run very, very easy.

Make sense right?

Common sense training from one of the fastest marathoners in world history.

The best understand that the pace on and recovery days is irrelevant. These athletes are extremely focused on running very hard when it is called upon to do so.

You stress your system, then you rest, then attack, then rest.

The result will be, if patient, faster times and new personal bests. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube Channel. I’ll be creating new video tutorials each week to help you run your best and leverage your fitness.

Lastly, how to run faster is dependent on how well you are willing to take this advice and literally run with it.

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13 responses to “How To Run Faster By Using Lactic Acid

  1. This was great Nate! I am in a running group and it wasn’t until after reading a few of your posts on this subject, I became more patient. Thanks. Yesterday in fact I had a 16 miler and it was very very slow. I was a bit disappointed but conditions were terrible with fresh snow and ice. Yuck…..16 depress too. I got over it and decided to tell myself….gotta be good miles for Rome….hard tough run. Today I went to the tread mill only because too difficult to run pace runs outside with snow and winter gear….so I ran 8 miles at 9:05 pace. I was so happy…..especially after yesterday. Right now I am sitting in a ice bath….ugh. Happy new year

  2. Karen. NICE work!! For one 16 miles in 16 degree temps is great training. There are times when pace is going to have to be thrown out the window. If you are dealing with snow on the ground, windy conditions and low temps, this is going to have an effect on training. There is no way around it but the fact that you spent that amount of time on your feet will help your body super compensate, meaning your body will build off that training run, and you will become even stronger the prior to starting that workout. 8 miles at 9.05 pace, NICE! You are going to do awesome this year. Look at all the strength you have already built. Keep it up and hang in there, ice baths are not pleasant.

  3. In “Running to the limits”, with Alex Vero, there was a statement of “You can’t expect to run fast if you only run slow”. – I use to be one of the new runners that thought, hey the more marathons that I do, the faster I will do them. lol Thanks for sharing Nathan. I always appreciate the tips and advise.

    1. Hi Kenley. I think that makes sense was Alex said. Sebastion Coe was quoted as saying, “I have always felt that long slow distance produced long slow runners. Of course, everyone is different, has different viewpoints but when it comes to racing as specific paces with specific goals. You have to focus in on that golden pace. Easy running has its place and is important but it will not produce fast race times, only faster paced training can do that. Thanks for the comment.

  4. In “Running to the limits”, with Alex Vero, there was a statement of “You can’t expect to run fast if you only run slow”. – I use to be one of the new runners that thought, hey the more marathons that I do, the faster I will do them. lol Thanks for sharing Nathan. I always appreciate the tips and advise.

    1. Hi Kenley. I think that makes sense was Alex said. Sebastion Coe was quoted as saying, “I have always felt that long slow distance produced long slow runners. Of course, everyone is different, has different viewpoints but when it comes to racing as specific paces with specific goals. You have to focus in on that golden pace. Easy running has its place and is important but it will not produce fast race times, only faster paced training can do that. Thanks for the comment.

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