Runner's World (UK) - - Training -

No­body knows why run­ning at or near lac­tate thresh­old makes the body’s lac­tate pro­cesses more ef­fi­cient. But train­ing at this level can shift the en­tire lac­tate-in­crease curve to higher speeds.

Most coaches say the key is to run at what feels like the right ef­fort level (see Find Your Thresh­old, be­low.) ‘It would be hard to find de­fin­i­tive stud­ies that said this is the one true way,’ says Hal­li­will. ‘What we can say is that when peo­ple train through a va­ri­ety of ap­proaches, whether it is lac­tate thresh­old or in­ter­val train­ing at higher in­ten­sity, we see that crit­i­cal pace – thresh­old – shift to higher in­ten­si­ties.’

‘I be­lieve in thresh­old run­ning,’ says Bob Wil­liams, dis­tance coach at Con­cor­dia Univer­sity in Port­land, Ore­gon, US. ‘It helps the ath­lete feel that sense of tough­ness they ex­pe­ri­ence when they com­pete. I think it’s a process of adap­ta­tion, psy­cho­log­i­cal as well as phys­i­o­log­i­cal.’

Some coaches talk more in terms of pro­gres­sion and ef­fort than try­ing to dial into a spe­cific pace. Scott Sim­mons, coach of the Amer­i­can Dis­tance Project in Colorado Springs, US, says that tra­di­tional thresh­old runs don’t mimic rac­ing any­way, be­cause in rac­ing you’re rarely run­ning pre­cisely at thresh­old. ‘Whether it’s the mile or the half marathon, you’re push­ing through that thresh­old be­cause that’s what the com­pe­ti­tion de­mands,’ he says.

Sim­mons is a fan of pro­gres­sion runs. Such runs, he says, might start out a minute per mile slower than 10K race pace, then in­crease mile by mile un­til the fi­nal mile is at goal pace, or faster. Sim­mons says that such runs should not be too in­tense. ‘It’s not that ex­treme a work­out,’ he says. ‘We want to in­cor­po­rate the spe­cific de­mand of the race, but we don’t want the train­ing to be a race.’

If you do the same work­out over and over, you may be­come very good at it, but your over­all progress will stag­nate. In other words, the blurry def­i­ni­tion of ‘thresh­old run’ can work to your ad­van­tage. The nice thing about the con­fu­sion over thresh­old is that it of­fers a huge va­ri­ety of work­outs, so there’s some­thing for ev­ery­one.

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