Under the Hood of Your Body’s Running Fitness – Four Major Components

Under the Hood Look at Running FitnessYour body is a complicated machine, and thankfully there are people who understand how it works.   Today we are going to ‘look under the hood’ of this fine tuned machine of your body, and see exactly what makes up your running fitness.  From what I have learned, there are four predominant kinds of running fitness that your body has that will affect how well you run.  These four kinds of fitness include aerobic endurance, lactate threshold, aerobic capacity, and Anaerobic Energy.  Building on each of these components will help you to be a better runner.  And, you will find also that these components can be likened to the links in a chain.  You need all four of them to perform well, and as they say, you will only be as strong as the weakest link in the chain.  More detail of each component is provided.

Aerobic Endurance
Most understand the idea of aerobic endurance.  This is your ability to run a long distance without stopping.  Aerobic energy is the ability of your body to convert oxygen and fuel into energy.  The fuel in this case is carbohydrates and fat.  Endurance is the ability to continue to do this for a long time.  You can build your aerobic endurance by running basically any distance.  However, it is best to try to run within 60 to 80 % of your maximum heart rate (MHR).  By running at this level, you will build muscular and aerobic endurance.

Aerobic Capacity
This is different than Aerobic Endurance.  Aerobic Capacity is measured by a term called VO2 max, or the maximum volume of oxygen your body can ‘uptake’ and use.  Your aerobic capacity is what makes you feel ‘out of breath’ .  Your aerobic capacity can be improved by doing short runs and running workouts at a faster pace.

Lactate Threshold
Lactate threshold is a point in a run when lactic acid builds up, and begins to ‘burn’ and also fatigues the muscle.   If you have ever felt a burning sensation or fatigue in your muscles when you run, you are probably reaching your lactate threshold.  To understand lactic threshold, you also need to understand the concept of anaerobic energy.

Anaerobic Energy
Anaerobic Energy occurs when your body cannot convert oxygen and fuel fast enough to keep up.  When this happens, the body uses lactic acid from your muscles to generate energy.  Anytime you run short sprints or runs, your body is using anaerobic energy.  If you are getting the lactate threshold burn, then you may need to slow down and let your body catch up with the aerobic energy production.

Which Running Components are Your Strength?
If you are naturally able to run fast at relatively short distances then you probably have good aerobic capacity, lactate threshold, and anaerobic energy.  These three areas will be most beneficial to you when you run distances of 5K to 10K.  Of course, you will also want some level of aerobic endurance for these runs as well.  If you are running long distances, then aerobic endurance becomes a vital fitness link, followed by aerobic capacity, lactate threshold, and anaerobic energy.

Additional Links in the Running Fitness Chain
Actually, there are many links that can affect your running fitness, but the predominant ones have been discussed in this article.  Some other things that can affect your running include your running form, running economy, muscle fibbers, muscle strength, and anaerobic capacity.

What do You Think
I would like to know what you think about this article, so please feel free to respond with some feedback.

Which link of running fitness is your strength?

Which link of running fitness is you weakness?

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