Los Angeles Triathlon Club
LACTATE BUILD-UP OR NOT??
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Date Created: 10/24/04

Written By: Gareth Thomas


Dear All & Justin

Justin's question about "lactate in the legs at night and tired bloated leg" highlights a topic that confuses many people so I thought it made sense to reply directly to the club on this one.

Firstly, let's clarify that the soreness in your legs the next days or hours after exercise is nothing to do with lactate. This is a common but misguided assumption, as even after a 60 second full on sprint with lactate levels rising to over 10-15 mmol you will find lactate is back down to approx. 50% of this (5-7 mmol) after 30 mins total rest without active recovery and back to near resting levels (= sub 2 mmol) within 1-2 hours. I think your night time issue might be quite simple Justin in that you need to focus more on the cooldown at low intensity after workouts and that means 10 minutes plus of easy jog walking after runs, easy spinning after rides and gentle drills and breaststroke at the end of your swim workouts. Then to focus on complete stretching.

Further recovery is aided using ice and even the dreaded but immensely useful ice bath to reduce what is actually inflammation caused by damage to the muscle fibers created when you trained. Remember it is training that actually breaks down your body and then the rest that allows you to recover and get fitter - so "training rest = performance".

Lastly, many athletes train too hard all the time, even beginners. This is a whole book itself, but in summary, if you don't have a very strong aerobic system that produces very little lactate during exercise then you need to be training at low intensities for 75% of your weekly volume. Many athletes produce lactate very quickly and testing reveals that even their typical easy training days are actually metabolically "too hard" for the individual.

So to summarize this for you.......

Train easier more frequently to build a strong aerobic engine

Include adequate active and passive recovery in to your training week

Warm-up and cool-down properly

Ice is your friend

Hope that helps Gareth Thomas

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