Research shows how short duration, high intensity workouts can shorten times for endurance athletes. In scientific terms this means higher anaerobic capacity translates into faster endurance race times says science.

When you learn how to train at the appropriate level, you can change your training for the better, and by understanding what each of these terms mean, you will be able to put that into practice.

The difference between anaerobic and aerobic training can make all the difference when it comes to running to your potential on race day.

To exercise, your body needs to break down sugar and convert it to glycogen, so it can be used as energy or fuel.

When the body has an adequate supply of oxygen for this process, we call it aerobic respiration. When there is not enough oxygen, for example when you are running hard at the end of a 5k, this is called anaerobic respiration.

Repeated sprints to failure – that feeling where your legs are so heavy you can’t go on. That’s your anaerobic threshold or your anaerobic capacity. You can only increase your anaerobic capacity by training in that zone.

It may sound counter-intuitive that short intense sprints could greatly increase your long distance times. Researchers at Simon Frasier University measured the aerobic capacity of 10 healthy male mountain marathon competitors by having them run to exhaustion on a treadmill, and they assessed the runners’ anaerobic capacity via a seated cycling ergometer.

A regression analysis showed that runners with higher anaerobic capacity were predicted to have faster times.

The research was presented at Experimental Biology 2016 suggesting that endurance athletes and ultramarathoners should increase their anaerobic capacity in addition to their aerobic capacity in order to improve race performance.