Sunday, March 6, 2016

Don't Start Too Fast In Your Race

Picture by richseow from Flickr

I've written about why why you shouldn't start too fast in your race before. Well. here's the science behind it.

Researchers studied a group of world class orienteers and skiers whose average VO2 max read 80.7ml/kg/min. Now that is truly world class.

The subjects were first made to run hard to tire them out. They were allowed to recover for a few minutes until their lactate levels reach either 3 or 5 mol/L. Thereafter, their running economy was measure while they ran at their threshold pace (or before they start to accumulate lactic acid, usually at 4 mol/L).

The results showed that when they were less recovered (5mmol/L of lactate, their running economy (or how much oxygen and energy required to cover a certain distance) was 5.5 percent worse. This is a huge difference. The authors suggest this would translate to 30 seconds for a 10 minute run, three minutes in an one hour run or 8:25 minutes in a full marathon.

The authors suggest that this should caution anyone starting too fast in a race as too fast a start causes an accumulation of lactate and you'll not be running as efficiently for the latter stages of the race.

Bear in mind that the subjects in the study were tested in laboratory conditions (i.e ideal).

In hot, super humid and sunny Singapore, your running economy definitely worsens after an hour of running. Two hours or more of running? You betcha. If you didn't read how I started too fast (and lost) in my first serious 800m race, read this.


Hoff J. Storen O et al (2016). Increased Blood Lactate Level Deteriorates Running Economy In World Class Endurance Athletes. J Strength Cond Res. DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001349.

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