• The Science Behind Running

    The Science Behind Running


    Only after becoming a crossfitter did I understand why the study of sports was referred to as Sports Science. As an ametuer, we see sports as a sequence of randomly selected movements we do to avoid getting a heart attack. We often self-apply it randomly too. One of Kwetu’s coaches shared this hilarious clip on what a warm up would look like without a coach. It excellently depicts the above statement.

    Crossfit is amazing for many reasons. We get to do just about every needed movement to become a good athlete and do it scientifically. In the previous blog we discussed the various components we need to build on. We discussed conditioning and it’s role in upping our endurance. This time we want to discuss the role of running.

    Do you at times find you do really well in, for instance, weightlifting WODs and not as well in running or weightlifting that requires a high speed of vertical movement? Do snatches ring a bell? Even though you have the strength, your body has not yet reached an equal level in endurance and may not have mastered the speed that makes it a consistently good lift. One of the main and effective solutions to this is running- that thing you may have been avoiding or overlooking.

    Running has such a science behind it related to oxygen uptake. Your maximum oxygen uptake is believed to be the predictor of success in prolonged exercise. Your maximum is something unique to you, based on your heart rate. In aerobic running you are taking in enough oxygen to meet the demand, which would be on average 120 beats/minute if you have a maximum of about 200 beats/ minute. In perspective, this would be you keeping a steady pace for a long distance run. From aerobic you shift to what is called the lactate threshold, not yet anaerobic, but rather high quality aerobic.This would be, given the average aforementioned, about 180 beats/ minute. At this point, you can NOT hold a conversation while you run.

    To build your endurance you would combine both; not going far beyond your lactate threshold, because that would mean you cannot recover in the short time you have before doing what you need to do next. With time, however, you find your lactate threshold increases: you are basically building your endurance and stamina.

    But what is lactate threshold?

    So this is when you exercise to a level where there is an abrupt increase in blood lactate levels. Sometimes lactate is used interchangeably with lactic. This is the point where we feel we cannot continue beyond a certain intensity in an exercise, and after which our muscles feel worn out and uncomfortable- that aching two days on. As much as we blame this substance for the burning sensation – because it is what accumulates in our muscles – it ironically is a physiological function meant to reduce the burning sensation, in reality caused by impaired muscle contraction from the intense exercise. The released lactate is then used by your body in the production of glucose, giving you back the energy you require.

    Concisely, this means that by pushing your limits each time, you are increasing your capacity for muscle contraction, that is, you are increasing your lactate threshold; believed to be the best determinant of success in endurance-related activities (Reference: Lactate Threshold Training, Len Kravitz, Ph.D. and Lance Dalleck, Ph.D.). You find that you perform all your workouts better, faster and longer before feeling depleted.

    Up for a run?



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