Run Faster By Improving Your Lactate Clearance Rate

Photo: Scott Draper/Competitor

Lactic acid itself isn’t responsible for the muscle fatigue that causes you to do the skeleton dance at the end of a race.

Despite what you might be tempted to believe after scanning the headlines of your favorite running magazines, there’s no one secret workout that will guarantee you set a new personal best at your next race. As experienced runners know, it’s the right mix of workouts and consistency over time that brings long-term and steady results. With a seemingly endless variety of workouts to choose from, picking the most effective workout to accomplish your racing goals takes a little research.

Luckily, coaches and exercise scientists alike understand the specific metabolic demands placed on the body during long distance events. As such, they know what type of workouts will be the most effective for success at each particular race distance. Specifically, coaches and exercise scientists realize the important role of lactate during long distance running — how the body produces it, how the body utilizes it as a source of energy, and how lactate contributes to slowing down.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that most training schedules include a steady diet of threshold runs, particularly in the form of tempo runs or tempo intervals. However, when we take the time to examine exactly how lactate works, both as a fuel source as well as how the body clears it, many coaches have come to realize that straight tempo runs might not be the best way to improve your body’s use of lactate.

RELATED: Six Lies You Were Taught About Lactic Acid

Instead, many coaches and exercise scientists are beginning to understand that the goal of threshold training isn’t to produce less lactate — as has been traditionally thought — but to improve the body’s ability to clear lactate from the blood. In essence, you should be training to improve your lactate clearance rate.

In this article, we’re going to debunk some of the faulty science about lactate that still permeates training theory today so you can better understand how to train more efficiently. More importantly, we’re going to look at how adding lactate clearance workouts into your training schedule can help you improve as a runner, Lastly, we’ll show you some specific lactate clearance workouts you can implement right away.

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