n the last post, I discussed the use of intervals in training and how intervals have been misconstrued to mean “anaerobic” training, no matter what. That is not the case as it obviously depends on the manipulation of the interval workout. The take away message was that you could manipulate at an interval workout to be anything from a pure easy aerobic workout to a pure sprint workout.
But what about the idea of peaking too early because of interval training?
In a recent article by Greg McMillan he mentioned that in 2008, his track athletes peaked too early because they had to start specific track workout early in order to hit the times needed. By the end of the season, they were starting to tail off. That’s the conundrum that track athletes are in. They need to run fast early to hit the qualifying times or get into the later meets, yet they also need to be in peak fitness when championship season arrives. McMillan’s solution was to use more hills early for the intense workouts. This would allow them to get in some quality sessions, but delay the peak.
This is a common solution, but how does that make sense? A lot of times people use hill workouts that are just as intense as track sessions. How come the hill workouts don’t cause premature peaking as frequently as early intense track workout (hills still can cause early peaking, but don’t seem to as much)?
The answer is the concept of Nonspecific lactate work.
NonSpecific Lactate Work
Non specific lactate work is a type of workout where you do relatively high intensity workouts that often have high lactate levels, but they don’t seem to have the deteriorating effect on the aerobic system of specific lactate work.
The battle between aerobic and anaerobic adaptations within the muscle is generally what happens when athletes peak early. By doing too much anaerobic work, the ability of that muscle to work aerobically deteriorates. We get around this battle by doing nonspecific work.
Nonspecific work is work that uses different muscle fibers, muscle recruitment patterns, or different muscles all together. The degree of specificity depends on what’s done. You can make it entirely general or you can make it very close to specific. By working different muscles you allow for those muscle fibers to produce higher amounts of lactate. Since these fibers are often not the ones directly used in running or are used in a different way in running, the fact that they produce high lactate values isn’t a big concern and won’t impact our aerobic ability to a high degree. The high lactate values will help the body centrally deal it, while also enhancing the Slow Twitch fibers ability to use lactate.
Below is a spectrum of Nonspecific lactate work from very general to specific:
- Strength/lifting circuit
- Strength training alternated with running on treadmill (i.e. do bench/leg press, then hop on treadmill)
- Uphill strength endurance circuit
- Flat strength endurance circuit
- Steep Hill repeats
- gradual hill repeats
Real World Example