Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thursday Thoughts: Importance of High Intensity Interval Training for Runners

Today it rained. I mean it poured. Literally all day. So much for cross country practice, right? NOPE!!!! The rain day during tryout week provided me a perfect opportunity to expose the girls to a high intensity interval workout that we were able to do inside. Not only did this mean I could guarantee my athletes were kept active for about two hours, but I could really test how well-rounded they were in their fitness levels, which is so important to running.

First some definitions:

Aerobic running: Aerobic running occurs when you have enough oxygen in your body to supply energy to your muscles to complete your exercise. When your body uses oxygen as a source of energy, it produces a waste product of carbon dioxide and water, which you expel simply by breathing.

Anaerobic running: Anaerobic running occurs when there is not enough oxygen in your body to supply enough energy to complete your exercise. This is typically seen in short, powerful races which last less than 90 seconds, or an all-out sprint to the finish. The waste product is lactic acid, which is very difficult for your body to break down and causes your body to have extreme fatigue.

Why should endurance athletes, who function off aerobic energy (oxygen) resources for their sport still need to condition themselves in anaerobic exercise? So many reasons, so I'll highlight just a few.

  • Increase speed and power characteristics in muscle fibers
By developing the fast-twitch muscle fibers in our bodies, we encourage reaction time and therefore a faster turnover in our strides. The stride is more powerful and allows the body to be propelled forward by energy in the body AND force of impact. By including the power from the force of impact, more free energy is stored in the body, allowing for an increased amount of endurance.

  • Develop a higher lactic threshold
Runners who include anaerobic training into their workouts will develop stronger muscles which will gain a higher lactic threshold, and therefore be more resistant to fatigue.

  • Avoid injury
Runners with stronger muscles, which have had multiple types of fibers developed and trained, and less likely to get injured. Also, when the muscles are properly trained to resist fatigue, it is more difficult to over train the muscles by asking them to do work they are not capable of doing.

I want my athletes and clients to be the best versions of themselves and be capable of any work presented to them. By exposing their muscles to exercises which target multiple energy types, I can ensure that they are properly (and SAFELY) developing.



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