MY ASICS: Effective training with AT pace

MY ASICS training plans are based on a measure of training intensity known as the Anaerobic Threshold, or AT. Training at the right intensity is efficient and ensures you become faster and run further – without doing any more than necessary.

Long-distance running performance

There are many ways to train for long-distance running, based on different ways of measuring how you’re getting fitter. Researchers at the ASICS Institute of Sports Science regard AT pace as the best indicator of long-distance running performance.

The anaerobic threshold (AT) is defined as the shift from aerobic to anaerobic exercise. It is also called the lactate threshold (LT). This threshold is the moment during exercise when your body produces lactic acid faster than it can get rid of it. The fitter you are the more exercise you can do before you cross over this threshold.

The pace of running which causes you to go over the anaerobic threshold is called your AT pace. If you train appropriately you can raise your AT pace and run faster for longer distances.

Running above AT pace means your body has to deal with lactic acid accumulating in your blood stream. Your body gives you a range of signals that it has reached this level of effort:

  • Your leg muscles start to get sore
  • Your breathing becomes deeper
  • Your heart rate goes up

Running your race at AT pace

To summarise, AT pace is a personal training intensity level that you can improve through training.

You can either train at an intensity level below, on or above AT pace. Staying below AT pace you can run long distances at a low speed, basically until your body runs out of fuel. Above AT pace you can run much faster but you will soon become exhausted.

You can also run on your AT pace, and this is the best strategy for long-distance races like half or full marathons. At this personal effort level, you are able to sustain the highest speed over the longest distance.

So how do you improve your AT pace? This is where the MY ASICS training plans come in.

Training to improve your AT pace

MY ASICS training plans help you achieve two aims:

  • train to raise your AT pace – i.e. get faster
  • learn to run your race on your AT pace

It is important to realise that in order to raise your AT pace, you don’t need to run above your AT pace in every training session. In fact, MY ASICS plans limit running above your AT pace to once or twice a week.

Translating this back to effort levels, it means you will have one or two runs a week where you’ll feel sore and out of breath. Your other runs – usually one or two, depending on your plan – will be at a lower effort level, and should be easier.

This makes MY ASICS training plans very efficient, as they ensure you train no more than necessary. Of course you will still need to put in the mileage to be able to run a half or full marathon – but there’s no need to feel exhausted after every single training session!

Run types and AT pace

MY ASICS contains several different types of runs, with each phase of your plan offering a specific mix of run types. We can now see how each of the run types relate to AT pace.

Run type AT pace
Jogging Below AT pace
Comfortable Running Below AT pace
Pace Running Above AT pace
Fast Running Above AT pace
Build-up Speed Running Across AT pace, from below to above
Interval Running Across AT pace, alternating below and above
Race Pace Running On AT pace

On your next runs, try to be aware of your effort level. Getting a feel for your AT pace will help you during your race.

Don’t have a training plan yet? You can start today

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