Photo credit: Men's Journal

Our body primarily has 2 ways of meeting our energy demands – aerobic and anaerobic respiration. Different sport uses different systems to produce the required energy. The secret here is to train specific to the distance you are running. This means that if your sport primarily uses the aerobic system to produce energy, this is the system that you should pay most attention to during your training, vice-versa.


Aerobic respiration is when the body produces energy in the presence of oxygen. The oxygen you breath in is sufficient to sustain the intensity of your workout. The waste products of this process are carbon dioxide and water.

You can look at aerobic exercises as one that involves sustained effort such as marathon running.


Anaerobic respiration is when the body produces energy without the presence of oxygen. When you are undergoing anaerobic training, your body is not supplied with sufficient oxygen to produce the energy to meet the demands of your body. During this process, instead of producing just carbon dioxide and water as a waste product, it also produces lactate. It is this lactate that causes the burning sensation in your muscles.


You can look at anaerobic exercises as one that involves high-intensity effort such as an all-out sprint.

What You Need To Know?

You should be training for the particular distance or event you will be taking part in. For instance, if you’re training for the marathon distance, you should be training your aerobic system – the ability to sustain an effort. You should not be training your anaerobic system. Doing 5 all-out sprints of 100 meters every day won’t get you a good marathon-timing. This is because your time, effort and dedication is spent training up your body’s anaerobic system to be more efficient instead of the aerobic system – the system that matters in the marathon distance. For the marathon distance – the more time you spend training aerobically, the more benefits you will reap.

What You Need To Do?

First of all, you need to determine the energy system that is being primarily used for your sport. Think of the intensity and whether the effort is a sustained or intermittent one. Design your training programme to simulate the sport by training the same energy systems employed during your sport. But remember that most sport will employ both energy systems, so it is good to cross-train.

For instance, during the final kilometers of your marathon, you will try and push up your pace. At this point, oxygen levels in your body may not be sufficient to meet the energy demands of your body. It is also at this point that your body may start using the anaerobic system to produce energy.

This is why it is also important to include interval training even if you are training for a marathon!



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