The Science of Running Faster

Monday, August 2, 2021

It is estimated that 11 million people will run a marathon this year. Cross country is a very popular sport in many countries, and track and field is a worldwide sport. How do these people get faster and run for longer periods of time?
In this video, I will explain what happens to the human body as it trains at three different levels of intensity and why these three levels of intensity should be included in your training.
If you take a look at this pyramid you will see the three levels of intensity.

Science of Running

The base which makes up the bulk of your training is aerobic. It is easy running. If you average 7 minutes per mile in a 5K race your easy pace is roughly 9 to 10 minutes per mile.
Tempo pace is found in the middle and the 14 minutes 5K person their tempo pace will be roughly 7:40 minutes per mile. 
At the top of the pyramid will be an anaerobic pace which would be 6:30 minutes per mile pace or faster.

Let’s take a look at changes created in the body that are caused by easy running.

cardiovascular muscles

Easy steady running is the best type of training for cardiovascular improvement with the least amount of discomfort. Time spent running is more important than the intensity. This easy running strengthens heart muscles and increases the stroke volume of the heart.

In addition, this type of running creates changes on a cellular level. The cells used in running will have an increase in the number and size of the mitochondria, which are the factories where energy is created in the form of ATP.


In addition, there is an increase in oxidative enzyme activity which increases how quickly oxygen is processed.

Also, there will be an increase in the number of active capillaries delivering oxygen to the muscles.

The muscles used in running become better at conserving glycogen “ sugar” which is used to create energy and convert fat to energy.

Tempo Pace

Runners must also be able to clear lactic acid in the blood.

Blood lactate accumulation is a function of how much lactic acid is being processed by the exercising muscle and how much is being cleared by muscle, heart, and liver. Tempo-paced runs of 20 minutes or more help improve your body's ability to clear lactic acid.

If you can hold down blood lactate accumulation you can run at a faster pace for a longer period of time.

Anaerobic conditioning creates the following changes.

This type of running increases your Vo2 Max which is the maximum rate of oxygen your body is able to use during exercise. The oxygen is turned into energy called ATP at the mitochondria.

This is intense running but for a short period of time.

When you train consistently in these three areas easy, tempo, and anaerobic you will become a faster runner.

If you want to learn more about running faster or the Science of running the following links will help.

Marietta Cross Country

This link provides an amazing list of resources and helpful information. This cross country team is the top program in Georgia and has qualified for the National meet. If you Coach high school cross country his link will help you become a better coach.

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