Anaerobic Training

If you haven’t read the page about aerobic training first I’ll give you a short intro: aerobic training is training where your muscles are receiving enough oxygen to work. Anaerobic training is training where your muscles aren’t receiving enough oxygen, which leads to the muscles starting to produce lactic acid in order to keep going. This cannot last forever, and eventually the anaerobic exercise that you are engaging in will have to stop when the lactate levels in your blood becomes too high. But trust me on this, it’s gonna hurt A LOT before you get there. There are two main goals with anaerobic training:

  1. Better your body’s ability to maintain running form and speed while lactate levels are rising and getting high. (Anaerobic tolerance)
  2. Increase your muscles maximum capacity for lactate, in other words you want to increase your ability to achieve maximum oxygen dept. (Anaerobic production)

It normally takes around 4-6 weeks of 2-4 anaerobic workouts per week to max out your anaerobic capacity. Anaerobic training, and especially the anaerobic production type, is the kind of training you will primarily want to do in preparation for competitions, after your base training is done.

anaerobic training

Anaerobic training is fun. It can make you feel like a stallion


So let’s dive into the two sub-categories of anaerobic training:

#1: Anaerobic tolerance and VO2-max

The purpose of anaerobic tolerance training is to teach your body to “tolerate” running with lactic acid. You accomplish this simply by doing a lot of running with lactic acid in your legs. And when I say “a lot”, take it with a grain of salt. It’s not a lot, but it is more running than anaerobic production training. During anaerobic tolerance training the goal is to put a constant pressure on the anaerobic system while running multiple intervals with breaks short enough to not allow for total recovery. Some examples relevant for 800m and 15000m runners are:

  • 8-12 x 200m at or slightly above 800m race pace, with 60-90 seconds rest between
  • 7-10 x 400m at or slightly above 1500m race pace, with 60-90 seconds rest between

Workouts like these increase your ability to buffer lactate and eliminate it due to the short breaks, and due to the number of intervals it teaches your body to maintain running form and speed while lactate levels are rising.

Furthermore, workouts like these targets and increases the VO2-max because they make you reach a very high % of your maximum heart rate. Science tells us that when the heart rate gets to 88-90% of maximum, VO2-max drastically increases, therefore you should train with a heart rate monitor and aim to stay in this area when working on your VO2-max. To make them the most specific for VO2-max building you can increase the volume and lower the speed of the intervals: The “standard” VO2-max workout is as follows, and should be used by both middle- and long distance runners:

  • 5-8 x 1000m at 5000m-3000m race pace, with 60-90 seconds rest between

A workout like that may very well be used to increase anaerobic tolerance for a long distance runner and to increase VO2-max for a middle distance runner, but it accomplishes both for both runners. The only difference is that running at race pace is more race specific for middle distance runners, therefore they will benefit a lot from running the 200- and 400-workouts described earlier.

#2: Anaerobic production and racing

Anaerobic production workouts are the closest thing you come to racing without actually racing. As you can probably tell from the name, anaerobic production is about producing a lot of lactic acid in order to both increase the ability to run fast with a lot of lactic acid and to increase the maximum amount of lactic acid your muscles can produce. These workouts are characterised by near all-out effort intervals with close to full recovery, and are often used to peak before an important competition.  Some examples are:

  • 600m + 400m + 200m close to all-out, 10 min rest between reps
  • 5 x 300m close to all-out, 8 min rest between reps
  • 2 x 400m + 2 x 200m close to all-out, rest 15 min after 400s, 7 min after 200s
  • Running a 400m, 800m or 1500m race

Although these workouts are designed to make you feel like racing, it’s important to not lose your head. Don’t mindlessly hammer the reps. Always try to run these workouts as relaxed with a good technique as you can, and it will carry over into competitions.

That’s anaerobic training in a nutshell. If you have any questions or anything, feel free to leave a comment.

3 Responses to “Anaerobic Training

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  • Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your post seem to be running off the screen in Opera. I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know. The layout look great though! Hope you get the problem solved soon. Thanks

    • TheAuthor
      2 years ago

      Thanks, but my site looks perfectly fine in Opera, sorry

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