Runners' Timepieces and their Lactate Thresholds, as well as their Endurance Training

The lactate threshold, or LT, is a good way to measure your level of endurance and choose the right intensity of the workout to help you reach your goals.

Let’s begin with the science lecture so we can get it out of the way. In all honesty, one shouldn’t have too much trouble grasping this concept.

Your body uses lactic acid as a “backup” source of energy when it runs out of other options. When you exercise at a very high intensity, your circulatory system is unable to keep up with the demand for oxygen from your muscles. At this point, the muscles begin to switch from an aerobic metabolism, in which oxygen plays a primary role in the production of energy, to anaerobic metabolism. The latter converts carbs into usable power through the combustion process. At this point, your body needs more energy than it can get from just taking in oxygen. It has reached its full potential.

The combustion of carbohydrates results in the production of lactic acid, which is then further broken down by your body into a molecule known as lactate. The accumulation of lactate in the muscles provides a source of energy that is only transitory. It stalls the onset of exhaustion and enables you to keep going for a little bit longer. But not all that much.

There is a limit to how quickly lactate may be used up by your body. When lactate production increases past its clearance rate, it rapidly accumulates, which causes increased acidity in tissues. This acidity adds to a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, including weariness, nausea, and more. Simply put, runners who go beyond their lactate threshold will soon start to feel a burning feeling in their muscles rather quickly. This will happen when the runner’s lactate levels are high enough. They will finally come to a complete stop in their sports activities as a result of this.

LT usually happens at around 90 per cent of an athlete’s maximum heart rate for those athletes who are properly conditioned. The value is often lower than this figure for runners who fall into the “average” category. That is really unfortunate news. The excellent thing is that professional athletes have a lower chance of improving their LT than other athletes. The odds are more in your favour.

Now that we’ve finished the science lesson, it’s a little easier to understand what the abbreviation LT actually stands for. In practice, it refers to the maximal level of exertion at which the body is still able to maintain its steady-state condition. Alternatively, the highest level of performance vigour can be maintained for a substantial amount of time throughout the exercise. If you go beyond your LT for an extended period of time, your system will be unable to expel lactic acid and recycle it as quickly as it normally would. You’ll find that you gradually slow down.

Imagine you’re running a marathon. Because you will have put in the effort and time to train, it is likely that you will be able to complete the race as long as you maintain a heart rate that is lower than your LT for most of the competition. If you go out too rapidly, you will find yourself seeking a bench in the middle of the race so that you may sit down.

As a result, the distinction between aerobic and anaerobic exercise can now be better understood as a result of this. The first type is an aerobic activity that can be kept up for extended periods of time and that requires the use of oxygen for the body to generate energy. Because it causes you to run out of breath so rapidly, the second activity can only be performed in brief spurts. It’s good to do both kinds of workouts because each has its own health and performance benefits.

LT can be seen as a value for both the heart rate and the pace. If you know these numbers, you’ll be more equipped to adapt your workouts, as they provide a valuable gauge for determining the appropriate level of intensity for both training and competition. As was already said, the actual value varies from person to person, and it can go up if you exercise often. Because exercise causes adaptations in skeletal muscle, which inhibit lactate levels from rising, this is one of the benefits of keeping active. Because of this process, your body will also get better at getting energy from oxygen.

Thanks to wearable technology, working out your LT is currently more convenient than it has ever been. You are not required to make an expensive trip to an exercise lab or pay for any tests there.

There are a variety of fitness trackers on the market that are capable of doing this for the user by connecting to Firstbeat analytics and providing them with the required calculations. This covers (but is not confined to) the Garmin Forerunner 245/245M, Forerunner 945 and 935, Fenix 6, (5 Plus, 5 and 3) range, Forerunner 645 Music, Forerunner 630, Forerunner 735XT, Quatix 5, Tactix range, and MARQ collection. However, this is not an exhaustive list.

To obtain a value, it is necessary to have a reliable estimation of your Vo2Max as well as sufficient quality cardiac data captured at a variety of intensities. Because of this, in order to acquire the calculations, you will also need to wear a heart rate chest strap along with your smartwatch. This is because the measurements necessitate HRV data (the variations in beats between your heartbeats). You can choose to have this done automatically as part of normal operation, or you can use a guided exam that has been made specially to record the information that is needed.

“Your LT is identified by extracting deflections in your heart rate variability that correspond to crucial signs of how your breathing patterns adapt to the intensity of your activity,” states Firstbeat, and this is seen in the chart that is located above.

Utilizing a muscle oxygen sensor like Humon Hex or Moxy is an intriguing alternative that was brought to our attention by one of our audience members. These are devices that can accurately measure the amount of oxygen that is present in a person’s muscles. You may read our evaluation of the first of them by clicking on the link provided.

Hex provides you with real-time auditory and visual feedback that assists you in gaining a better understanding of the boundaries of your body. It does this by determining the degree to which the quadriceps’ hemoglobin is saturated. In addition, there is a guided test that may be used to determine LT. This test can be done on either a treadmill or a stationary bike, and it takes approximately half an hour to do.

As a last resort, you can calculate your LT using an estimate of 85 to 90% of your maximum heart rate. This would be your final alternative. There is also the option of going at a pace that is somewhere in the middle of your best 10K and half-marathon race times and calling that your average pace.

If you are a runner, knowing your LT allows you to more effectively personalize your training. It equips you with the skills you need to determine the appropriate speed for your workouts, adjust your heart rate zones in order to make your training more efficient, and monitor the boundaries of your existing endurance. Additionally, it has the potential to boost your race times on that crucial day.

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