Saturday brought about an amazing revelation- I really love lactate threshold runs… Masochistic? Nah, not really- I think its a sign my fitness is getting to a nice place. Starting out at the Heather Cut off trail near Muir Beach in the Marin Headlands, I ran up to Pan Toll on a fairly steep but still fast trail. Pan Toll is just below the sumitt of Mt Tamalpais. I did this repeat twice for 45 minutes each climb. I knew I was going pretty fast, because running down still took me 35 minutes! 2 hours, 53 minutes and 17 miles later I was happy and soaking wet from the sweat and humidity. It was just a great day!
I used to dread these climbs because they are so hard, but now I like to think of them as “hauling ass hill repeats.” Before my coaching with Scott (Jurek, as in 7-time winner of Western States 100, ultrarunning guru), I never incorporated speed work or specific lactate threshold work. What does a long distance runner have to gain with those workouts anyway? Lots and lots, as it turns out. Experienced runners who are looking to gain fitness must do so by going into their anaerobic threshold metabolism. A very interesting study published on the Running Research news website, cited an exercise physiology study looking at ways to increase lactate threshold in runners by doing the following: Runners that averaged around 75 miles a week were told to drop their mileage to 45 miles a week and in substitution of that mileage ,perform a progressive series of hops, jumps, bounds and explosive sprints three days a week. The study found these runners increased their lactate threshold by 6.8 percent in nine weeks!
How do you find your lactate threshold? The best way to figure it out is to run a 10K or 10miler as fast as you can. Lactate threshold is what you can hold for about an hour. Make sure to wear a heart rate monitor and the heart rate that occurs at that level of running is very likely your LT. Another awesome reference guide is to pick up the Daniels Running Formula available here, which takes you through your exact chart for your speed.
So here’s to the hills and all the speed you can find..