Anaerobic Threshold


Anaerobic Threshold

At his/her anaerobic threshold (AT), also known as lactate threshold (LT) or (OBLA)- Onset of Blood Lactate Accumulation, the athlete is producing more lactic acid than is being eliminated. The quantification of this value is an accumulation of 4mmolll (micro milliliters of lactate per liter of blood). ()
When training at this AT (LT/OBLA) pace athletes stimulate both the aerobic and anaerobic systems of phosphogen restoration (replenishment) which are functioning simultaneously. I would like to stress the importance of the intensity of pace at (AT) for several reasons:

1. The average velocity that an athlete can sustain for races over approximately 15 minutes duration is fairly close to that which blood lactic acid begins to accumulate rapidly. Disregarding all other factors, the person with the highest average speed of AT wins the race.
Exercise physiologists and sports scientists refer to this as having a high functional utilization, meaning the athlete can effectively use a high percentage of maximal abilities for long periods.
Athletes and coaches must be strongly advised that having a high VO2 max alone and testing only for VO2 max is not in the best interest of the athlete. This one point illustrates the importance of monitoring max and sub-max abilities.

2. Evidence shows that training at the AT intensity pace is the most effective way of inducing shifts in the lactic acid vs. velocity profile. In short, the AT now occurs at a faster speed and higher percentage of maximal aerobic capacity.
Athletes who train too far below the AT pace do not stimulate the anaerobic processes for lactate production and removal within the muscle. On the other hand, a pace which is run too fast induces rapid production and accumulation of the waste product lactate acid.
In our program at Adams State College, when we had no laboratory determined value we recommended an AT run with a pace that was 85-87% of VO2 max. Upon further investigation of this subjects data, we could ascertain that his fractional utilization (Fractionalization) or (% of VO2Max) – the VO2 level at which anaerobic threshold of 4mmoll was reached was 85-87%. (Other studies find a consistent 88% in most trained athletes)


Once the appropriate AT pace has been identified, training protocols to increase both the AT point and the fractional utilization (fractional utilization is also referred to as Fractionalization or the fraction of (vVO2). Here are some methods of developing fractional utilization:

1. Tempos run of 20 minutes or 4 miles, whichever comes first. Stronger runners attempt 6-8-10 mile tempo runs.

2. Long Interval runs 2-3 x 5-15minutes (2-4k) with a 3-5 minute active rest interval.

3. Long Interval runs 2-3 x 16-17minutes (5k) with res interval recovery near complete.
All three workouts stress the aerobic system at high levels. These workouts are used more frequently during race preparation period during competitive microcycles and are followed by aerobic workouts.
Study Guide
What is the anaerobic threshold?
How can LT be achieved?
How can anaerobic threshold training be incorporated into a running program and why?

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