Assessment of anaerobic capacity in runners


A new method for assessment of anaerobic capacity is presented. It consists of two treadmill runs at 22 km×h−1 and 7.5% slope, the first one being interrupted after 40 s (submax. test), the second continuing until volitional exhaustion (max. test). Measured variables are the increase in arterial lactate concentration over the pre-exercise value in the submax. test (δ L40), the maximal arterial lactate level in the max. test (Lmax), and time to exhaustion (tmax).

Fifty-five male runners of high competitive level were examined with this procedure, including 400-m runners of differing performance capacity (400 m A and B/C), middle-distance (MD), long-distance (LD), and marathon runners (M). Eleven physical education students served as controls (C). tmax was 88.3±11.0, 85.2±11.4, 83.1±12.7, 63.1±11.4, 43.7±7.5, and 50.7±5.0 s for 400 m A, 400 m B/C, MD, LD, M, and C. The corresponding values for Lmax were 17.47±1.68, 17.52±2.03, 16.27±2.18, 13.44±2.13, 10.13±2.68, and 15.54±1.43 mmol× l−1 and for δL40 5.93±1.10, 7.13±1.55, 6.39±0.89, 6.68±1.18, 8.19±1.37, and 10.76±1.62 mmol×l−1.

The differences in δL40, most likely reflecting differences in high energy phosphate utilization, suggest that excellent performance in any running event is associated with increased alactacid anaerobic capacity. Lmax, reflecting lactacid anaerobic capacity, was the single most important determinant of running time, though its correlation with tmax was far from being perfect. Correlation and regression analysis revealed that δL40 and Lmax account for 87% of the variability of tmax, indicating a high specificity of this procedure.

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With support of the Bundesinstitut für Sportwissenschaft, Köln-Lövenich

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Schnabel, A., Kindermann, W. Assessment of anaerobic capacity in runners. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 52, 42–46 (1983).

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Key words

  • Performance testing
  • Anaerobic capacity
  • Lactate