How To Use Lactate Threshold To Run Faster

lactate threshold run faster

If you want to learn how to improve running performance this season, keep on reading this post. One simple way is to identify your redline, aka, your lactate threshold. This may sound scientific, but really it’s quite simple to understand, assess, and improve. Here’s how…

What is a redline or lactate threshold?

The definition of lactate threshold is the exercise intensity at which the blood concentration of lactate and/or lactic acid begins to exponentially increase. It builds up in the bloodstream faster than the body can remove it (think Mickey Mouse, with the water bucket, in Fantasia).
As you cross this threshold, your breathing rate increases as does the intensity of exercise. Your body shifts from using fat as a primary fuel source to using a higher percentage of glycogen.

Why it is important to know your redline?

Knowing where your redline is will help you train to improve it, as well as teach you how to run more effectively based on your effort rather than pace.
When you train to raise your redline, you’re able to run faster at easier effort levels (neat huh?). So if you can run at 10:30 pace at your redline now, with training you might be able to run at 10:00 pace or faster well under your redline, and breathing more easily.
One way to raise to raise your redline is to run high intensity intervals like the Sprint 8 Workout. Another way is to run at, or slightly above your redline for a sustained period of time. In the running world this is called a tempo run, and it’s one tool you can use to improve your fitness and performance.

Here’s an example of a Tempo Run (a little like an Oreo Cookie).

  • Warm up walking 3-5 minutes
  • Run at an easy effort (conversational) for 10 minutes
  • Run at a comfortably hard effort (your redline) for 20 minutes
  • Run at an easy effort for 5-10 minutes
  • Walk it out for 3-5 minutes to cool down.

How to Easily Find Your Redline Threshold To Improve Running Performance

You can easily find your redline with this easy to follow assessment. The goal of this assessment is to identify where your redline is, or the point at which you can no longer talk in full sentences while running. It starts you off with an easy walking effort and builds to a comfortably hard running effort over time.
There are many ways to find your redline. I happen to like this method because it guides you into learning what it feels like, is easy to perform, and is great for newbies who may be unfit and unable to perform the more standard 20-minute hard-effort protocol.
The value in performing this assessment is that you can create three training zones that are tailored to your current fitness level, which allows you to train and race based on what is going on in your body on the given day.
The easy Yellow Effort Zone is well below your redline and an effort where you can easily talk out loud without reaching for air. This zone is for easy or longer runs.
The Orange Effort Zone is at or below your redline, and an effort that is outside your comfort zone, and one that you can talk only in a word or two word response.
And the Red Effort Zone is the effort that is above your redline, and one where you can’t speak at all, and your breathing is vigorous and labored.
When you run by your body, you are able to always hit the right zone for the given workout, and adapt and improve more readily. It’s like having a secret weapon!



Coach Jenny Hadfield is a published author, writer, coach, public speaker and endurance athlete. To find out more, visit our Meet Our Writers page or visit Coach Jenny’s website.

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