Ok so let’s talk energy systems.
Our body creates energy through converting what we eat into Adenosine Triphosphate – ATP. The break down is one molecule of Adenosine and three molecules of phosphate. When we use a molecule of phosphate ATP is converted to Adenosine Diphosphate – ADP which is Adenosine and two molecules of phosphate and this allows energy to be released.
We have 3 energy systems to help our bodies to function:
- ATP- CP System – Anaerobic Alactic System
- Anaerobic Glycolysis – Lactic System
- Aerobic System
- This system does not use oxygen or produce lactic acid
- This system is used for powerful movements and usually last 1-15 seconds
- This system would be used when sprinting
- This system provides energy by breaking down glycogen which creates lactic acid and helps replenish ATP
- This system does not use oxygen
- This system is generally used for 15-90 seconds of activity
- This system uses oxygen which creates little or no lactic acid
- This system is used for activities above 90 seconds
- A distance runner would predominately use this system
Our energy systems align with what we eat. So eating the right foods leading up to a race, or event is extremely important to guarantee our best energy output. Our bodies use carbohydrates to create ATP, however we can only store limited amounts. If our bodies can get better at using fats as fuels it will also help with our endurance, as we are able to store a lot more fats that glucose (carbs). This is why I strongly recommend Zone 2 training – for more information please refer to my Zone 2 guide 🙂
I wanted to spend some time talking about Zone 2 training, recovery runs or easy runs. I feel zone 2 training is very important for any endurance athlete.
I have read many articles and most would recommend 60 to 70% of your training time be spent in Zone 2.
So what is zone 2? Depending on what heart rate method you follow could differ the results slightly. However just to simplify things I will use the standard method of: (220-age)×.60 to .70 For a 35 year old we would see the follow results. 220-35=185 185×.6=111 and 185×.7=129.5. That would put their heart rate between 111 and 129.5
Through my personal experience I have found it quite difficult to keep my heart rate in zone 2. However the more I work at it the easier it becomes. When I start to go into zone 3 I will drop into a walk to bring my heart rate down.
Zone 2 training training will generally recruit fat for it’s primary energy source. This makes it less reliant on Carbohydrates. We also use our slow twitch muscle fibers. Why is this important? Our slow twitch muscles are responsible for lactate clearance and transferring it to the mitochondria where it can be reused as energy.
Zone 2 training will also increase your aerobic endurance which I would think any runner would be glad to have.
With any type of training you need to find what works best for you. When I do a zone 2 session I like to take advantage of my slower pace to work on my running form and breathing I recently found this helpful when I ran a 10km race I got a personal best as I was able to control my heart rate better than I had in the past.
Today was only a short run but I wanted to show you my heart rate graph . As you can see below I did some into my zone 3 but every time I did I slowed down my pace and worked on my breathing. I should mention to that my pace is about 2min per km higher however the more I do this the more I improve.
Good luck everyone 😀 if you currently use this method of training or are going to try it is love to hear your feedback.
Quite often when I am talking about running and training I get asked what terms mean, so I thought I would cover off on some training terminology .
Fartlek: These runs are suppose to be informal and unplanned. The idea is to work on your speed work but have no real plan. When i am training farkleks I like to see a sign and push myself to get to that sign as quickly as possible and then drop back down into an easier run, then i will pick another landmark and push towards that. The great thing is because they are unplanned you can push as much as you can, but if you need to recover a bit longer that is ok too.
LSD: Long Slow Distance runs are generally a lot slower than your race pace. The idea of these runs is to build distance and should be comfortable and enjoyable. I find the best LSD runs are when your running with a friend and you both can chat and laugh the entire run. They should not be stressful, in fact you should just enjoy the company and the beautiful scenery.
Strides: The idea behind strides is to work on form and technique. Your goal should be to increase your stride length and maintain a quick foot turnover.
Easy Run/Recovery Run/Zone 2 Training: An easy run would normally be 1 to 2 minutes slower than your race pace. When doing an easy run you should focus on your breathing and technique. An easy/recovery run would normally be 60-70% maximum heart rate or in Zone 2. At first if you are not use to training at these lower heart rates you will find it quite challenging, however as time goes on you find your body will start to improve on fat utilization and and also increase lactate clearance. I would be recommending that endurance athletes include a lot more Easy runs in their training schedule.
Intervals: Intervals are a great way to increase your speed. When i am running intervals I will push for 1km and then go into a recovery run or walk for 1 to 2 minutes. However that being said you can split your intervals up anyway you like. If I am doing a run/walk i will often run for 10 minutes, walk for 1 minute, or even run for 4 minutes walk for 1 minute.
Threshold: Threshold running is running at a pace where lactate does not increase significantly in the blood during the run. These runs are a great way to gain aerobic fitness. A Threshold run should normally be slower than your 5 or 10km race pace, but harder than your normal easy run. If you are using a heart rate training program you would normally aim to be in Zone 4 for approximately 20 to 30 minutes. I will mix up my Threshold running and include some intervals of 6 to 10 minutes Threshold running followed by a few minutes of easy zone 2 or 3 running.
Tempo: When running a tempo run you are maintaining a comfortably hard or challenging pace. You should be able to hold these runs a lot longer that your Threshold Run. If you are heart rate training you are aiming run at a maximum of 80-85% HR
Steady Run: These runs are a great way to build aerobic strength. They are basically steady state cardio and normally performed in Heart Rate Zone 3. Usually a steady state run for me would be maintaining a constant pace and heart rate for 40 minutes to an hour.