The dog days of summer are here and the Runner's Journey has no running time in now for a couple of weeks. The weather has been hot and humid making running not high on the list of things wanting to be done. Still the sun is rising and setting at different spots on the horizon now and those early mornings have that fall like appearance to them even though the temperatures will reach into the 100s during the day. These changes also change my heart. The tone of light and the slight crispness in the early morning air bring back remembrances of runs long past. The desire to pound the pavement returns and the plotting for another race returns.
One must set a goal too for the next race. Mine will be to PR in a race I have ran many many times but yet set a personal record. That will be The Carlsbad Half Marathon.
Lactic acid is a compound that builds up in the muscles during intense exercise. It is what causes the muscles to burn and feel tired almost like they had suddenly become made of lead which makes pushing through whatever task at hand arduous. We as runners have all felt it whether in training or out in a race.
As we are working out our bodies by default use aerobic methods which means it uses oxygen for energy. When we are running really fast or lifting really heavy weights we need more energy faster than the body can deliver it. The body then switches from the aerobic method and starts to generate it anaerobically. The energy produced is called glucose through a process called glycolysis. That is when the glucose is broken down into a substance called pyrovate. That is one I had never heard of before so click on the hyperlink to get a full definition.
In normal exercise the body sends the pyrovate into aerobic pathways where it is broken down even more for energy. When the oxygen starts to get limited during harder workouts the body can temporarily convert the pyrovate into a substance called lactate. The lactate is what allows the body to breakdown the glucose even more producing the needed extra energy. The body can sustain that type of anaerobic energy production at a high rate for abut one to three minutes. This allows the lactate to build up to higher levels.
When the lactate levels get really high the muscles increase in acidity.This lowers the performance of the muscles. It seems odd that the body would make something that stops the muscles from working at their optimal levels however it is a natural defense and it causes us to stop thus stopping any tissue damage that could be permanent.
Contrary to what I learned years ago the lactic acid is not the cause for the muscles soreness one gets after a tough workout. That is a myth. I used to lie on the floor with my legs elevated to drain the lactic acid out of my legs so I would recover faster but that isn't what is going on. So I stopped. What the lactic acid actually does is make your muscles sore so that you will stop and recovery begins as well as the removal of lactic acid. In a nut shell the body slaps you down making you stop so it doesn't get injured and also so it can recover.