Testing your Lactic Acid Tolerance

The purpose of this test is to establish the extent to which an athlete's body can cope with increased levels of lactic acid within their system.

Prior to performing this test, it would be useful (though not essential) to find out what the athletes pure speed is like, by using the flying 30s test. It is not mandatory as here we are trying to predict the drop-off in performance over two runs, where the first is used primarily as a speed endurance run - with elevated, but not very high, levels of lactic acid.

  1. This first run is to get as far as possible in 30 seconds.
  2. Take a total recovery - 20 minutes should be adequate for this - and then run a 600m time trial as fast as possible.
  3. Calculate the time per 100m for each of the runs.
  4. Take the difference.

The results will vary according to the event the athlete is training for and their degree of adaptation to the event.

The following table should give good idea of what should be aiming at:

EventVery GoodGoodPoor
100/200m< 3 secs3 - 4 secs4+ secs
400m< 2.5 secs2.5 - 3.5 secs3.5+ secs
800m+< 2 secs2 - 3 secs3+ secs

The relevance of tolerating very high levels of lactic acid is less important for longer distances, as no-one can work at these very high intensities for extended periods. However, the results of the two runs should be similar to an 800m runner as the athlete is unlikely to have the same degree of top level pace as the shorter distance runner.