Anaerobic training is a form of exercise that increases the intensity of a workout to above the lactate threshold and forces the muscles to get their energy anaerobically. Competitor describes sprints, plyometrics and weightlifting as three forms of true anaerobic exercise that should appear in every athlete's training regime.
Anaerobic fitness is crucial for developing speed and power, especially for distance runners. Competitor distinguishes between what is commonly considered anaerobic activity and true anaerobic exercise, citing a popular misconception that muscles derive their energy entirely from aerobic or anaerobic systems and redefining anaerobic activity as the breakdown of high-energy phosphates.
While distance racing itself does not have an anaerobic component, anaerobic training helps the feet come off the ground with more power and speed, improving running economy and conserving free energy. Because of this, Competitor postulates that for runners interested in decreasing their race times, anaerobic training is needed not necessarily for the development of anaerobic metabolic capacity but for increasing the speed and power of the muscle fibers. Coach Brad Hudson incorporates high-speed sprinting into his athletes' workouts only once a week for this reason, only increasing the amount of sprint workouts when his goal is specifically to focus on raw speed.