Aerobic and Anaerobic Running

By | June 17, 2016

It’s only natural for runners (beginner, casual, as well as seasoned) to want to maximise their running performance. When we say running performance, we are referring not only on the speed of the runner – aerobic development and anaerobic capacity is important as well, along with other factors like running economy, stamina, etc. Knowledge of when to do aerobic running and the ideal time to apply anaerobic running plays a crucial role in giving the best runners their supreme running performance.

In order for you to find out form the best running strategy, first, you must understand what aerobic and anaerobic running is.

Aerobic running is the state of running wherein your body has enough oxygen. When you run, your body needs oxygen to be taken in and then be transmitted to your system so your muscles can produce adequate energy to fuel you in your run.  Water and carbon dioxide are produced when you run aerobically.

You can determine that you’re doing an aerobic run when you can still maintain a conversation while you run without having to gasp for air. Running casually or recovery runs are examples of aerobic running, where you don’t necessarily push yourself to the extremes.

Anaerobic running, on the other hand, is the running state when your body does not have enough oxygen. And when your body does not have enough supply of oxygen while you run, the tendency is your muscles will burn sugar instead to get the energy you need.  Anaerobic running is common when you run faster or change your running pace; for an example, when you are running towards the finish line of a race.

When you do anaerobic running, though, your body produces excessive lactic acid together with what it normally produces when you run aerobically. The problem is that too much lactic acid is not something that your body can easily get rid of. Hydrogen ion is one of the side effects of lactic acid and additional hydrogen ions in your system hinder your energy reactions and affect your muscle contraction. This causes severe exhaustion.

The longer amount of time you run in an anaerobic state, the more lactic acid your body will produce and, therefore, it will take a much longer time for your system to wash this amount of lactic acid away.

When you join a running event and started running at a faster speed than you normally can, it is likely that you will enter anaerobic state sooner and your body will start producing lactic acid that will make you exhausted even before you complete half of your run. It’s more advisable to start running at a fast pace but make sure that your speed is still well within what you can manage. Simply put, start running aerobically at first so you can save your energy for later. You can start getting into the anaerobic running state towards the end of the race instead.

It’s important to know the difference between aerobic and anaerobic running so you know when to apply each of them, especially during a marathon. If you started running anaerobically too soon during a race, you may get exhausted a lot sooner too and would have to switch back to running aerobically which may still be hard to sustain even with the slower pace because of the excessive lactic acid already in your system, causing fatigue. Start aerobically, conserve your energy, and begin running anaerobically when you’re nearly at the finish line to make sure that you will be able to complete the race.

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