February 16, 2018

Endurance : explaination of lingo

Endurance, Vo2Max, Lactate Threshold...  we hear them all the time but do you fully understand what they mean?  Let's look at them from the bottom up and simplify! The dictionary states that endurance is “powering through unpleasant situations”.  We, runners, prefer to define endurance as “the ability to sustain an effort over a certain period of time”. The more scientific definition is “the ability to maintain complex physiological and musculoskeletal functions”.

Aerobic metabolism and lactate threshold.

When you run, you inhale oxygen. The oxygen is used to create energy and the energy is used to make you move. When you run slow, your energy needs are lower, and the oxygen you absorb is enough to sustain your effort a long time. It’s called aerobic metabolism.  When you speed up, your energy needs increase.  You breath harder to bring in more oxygen but at some point, the need for energy exceeds what can be supplied.  Your body has a fantastic mechanism, called “anaerobic metabolism” to sustain your effort even if your oxygen intake is insufficient.  The issue with anaerobic metabolism is that glucose is converted into lactate (it’s called the anaerobic glycolysis).  Lactate, a.k.a lactic acid, ultimately compels you to stop!  Lactate Threshold is the point where your lactate begins to rise above baseline levels during exercise. 

Stay under your lactate threshold and continue forever.  Stay above and soon you’ll need a breather.


Vo2max is the maximum amount of Oxygen you can utilize during an exercise. Vo2Max is a great indicator of endurance training and performance. Unfortunately, your Vo2Max is difficult to increase.  It is known to be trainable up to 25%.  A normal Vo2Max is between 25 and 30 ml/kg/min. A superior Vo2Max is above 45.  Oskar Svendsen, an 18-year-old Norwegian cyclist, was tested in 2012 at the University College of Lillehammer and reached 97.5, the highest ever recorded.  At 97.5, he can use twice more oxygen per min that a superior athlete.  We are not all born equal!

Economy of movement

The economy of movement also called exercise economy is the quantity of oxygen required to move at a certain speed.  It is a great predictor of endurance.  Look a top athlete in just about any sports, don’t they appear to be effortless? They have such a high level of movement integration they exert less energy at a particular speed.  It is mind-boggling to see world-class marathon runners warming-up at 8 miles per hour.  They appear to be using a frustratingly small amount of energy.

The economy of movement is a hidden secret to improve performance at no additional energy cost!

Have a FITLY day!

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