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How Lactate Threshold Training Works

Benefits of Lactate Threshold Training

If you are a sprinter, lactate threshold training is not for you. This type of training can help endurance athletes, though. So if you are a triathlete, a distance runner or another sort of endurance athlete, you might want to give it a try. Even though experts are still ironing out the details of what is happening within an athlete's body during lactate threshold training, athletes who increase their lactate thresholds make it to the finish line faster, and that's what it's all about [source: Walter].

So what should you do to start lactate threshold training? First, step up the volume. If you are training for a marathon, for example, gradually increase your mileage. Increase your mileage by 10 percent per week -- if you increase too fast, you'll risk winding up at the doctor's office instead of the finish line. Keep increasing the mileage of your long runs until you reach your goal [source: Kravitz].

Once you've reached your goal mileage, you can start maximal steady-state training. This is training at a steady pace, right at the lactate threshold. You can estimate your lactate threshold by going at a pace that falls somewhere between "somewhat hard" and "hard"[source: Dalleck, Kravitz]. The length of the workout will depend on your fitness level. For example, a novice runner training for a 5K might do 10-minute maximal steady-state workouts, while an experienced cyclist training for a multiple-day race might do 1-hour maximal steady-state workouts [source: Dalleck, Kravitz].

In addition to maximal steady-state workouts, lactate threshold training involves the use of interval workouts. In interval training, you do short, intense workouts that are above your lactate threshold level. For example, to train for a 5K race, you might do three 1-mile runs at or a little above your racing pace, with a brief period of recovery in between [source: Dalleck, Kravitz].

Make sure that interval training and maximal steady-state training combined only make up 10 to 20 percent of your total workout time for the week, otherwise you'll become overtrained and risk injury. Make sure you feel well rested before you jump into a tough workout [sources: Dalleck, Kravitz; Morris]. It's also a good idea to consult a personal trainer, who can help you get the hang of things. Training the right way will keep you moving forward toward your goal.