Aerobic vs. Anaerobic
Everything You Need to Know About Aerobic and Anaerobic Training:
This is a topic that can confuse many runners and knowing about it can make a big difference when it comes to training and your fitness on race day. In this post, I’m going to go into full detail about both aerobic and anaerobic training so you’ll be able to incorporate this knowledge into your training.
Let’s first quickly describe both of these areas briefly. When we run, our bodies need to break down sugar and convert it into glycogen so it can be used as fuel. When the body has sufficient supply of oxygen during this process, we call it aerobic. When there isn’t enough oxygen, like when we’re running 10K pace, this is call anaerobic.
Now let’s get into the details of both Aerobic and Anaerobic training.
Aerobic running is when the body has enough oxygen while running. Pretty much like when we’re out for an easy run. Every breath we take, our bodies are efficiently using all the oxygen it needs and then we exhale out what we don’t need. The waste products of what we exhale are carbon dioxide and water. Aerobic training is super important for runners because it will allow us to get stronger while also recovering from harder workouts. It’s a pace that is run most often during training.
Anaerobic running is when there is not enough oxygen to generate the energy we’re demanding while running at a faster pace. In this process, the muscles begin to break down sugar, but instead of producing carbon dioxide and water, they produce high amounts of lactate. Lactate is difficult to reconvert back into energy and has a downside compared to exhaling water and carbon dioxide. Without the oxygen, our bodies can’t clear up the extra ions created by this lactate. This is what causes the fatigue we feel in our muscles during workouts and races.
So why do we need to know the difference between these two? To get started, if we start to run too fast in the middle of a workout or race, our bodies go into a anaerobic state and produces lactate. Well if we go anaerobic early in a race or workout then your legs will fatigue sooner and you won’t be able to close out the race strong. Lactate will build in the muscles and we would have to slow down big time to go back into an aerobic state. Pretty much your race is going to take a major hit and it will be a painful finish. And if we’re talking about the marathon, learning the difference between aerobic and anaerobic is an absolute must! During a marathon, our bodies need to conserve as much fuel as possible. If we run too much faster than aerobic threshold we will burn through our fuel stores faster and eventually cause ourselves to bonk.
Now how can we learn to run aerobically when needed? First, you need to know why it’s important to know the difference between anaerobic and aerobic running...so you can race faster! Then you need to know how to keep yourself in an aerobic state. The best way to do this is by using the talking test. When running, try talking to yourself, or sing a song out loud. If you can get out a few sentences without any issues then you’re running aerobically. If you can only say a few words before you have to take a deep breathe, then you’re running anaerobically.
Now that you know the difference between aerobic and anaerobic training you’ll be able to train and race to your higher potential.