A quick Lesson in Energy

If you want to be a great runner you have to understand energy.  So we have done some research and put together a short little blog to show you exactly how energy systems work in the body, sort of like a quick lesson in exercise physiology.  Trust us, knowing this is going to help you exercise. Understanding how energy works really allows you to take advantage of it.

There are three types of energy systems.

Energy Systems


This is also known as the ATP PC energy system.  This is mainly used for short bursts of energy, like jumping, or six second sprints.  Now if you want to be a good runner you are going to have to maintain locomotion for more than six seconds.

Briefly, I want to mention that phosphogenic energy is used during plyometric exercises, but we will get into that later.

Glycolytic (Anaerobic)

This is the energy system that kicks in about 30 seconds after the workout has begun.  Anaerobic basically means we are not getting enough oxygen to feed the muscles in the body. Because the muscles are not getting oxygen they cannot maintain this type of energy for long.  That is why you see a decrease in energy around one minute into the graph.

When this energy system is triggered the body simply cannot create the energy it needs to in a clean way body, so it starts producing lactic acid as a byproduct. Not that lactic acid is bad, it actually stimulates growth hormones, which makes glycolytic or anaerobic exercises ideal if you are trying to gain mass.

Oxidative (Aerobic)

This is the body’s base energy system.  This is what we use at a low intensity, a pace where we are taking enough oxygen in to replace the oxygen being burned for ATP. This is the type of energy we can maintain for a long time, which means a lot of caloric burn.  With practice this base energy level can actually be raised, so your workouts are more intense but you are still capable of maintaining consistency.

There are two different types of runners, the distance runners and the speed runners.

– If you are running for distance you are going want to train aerobically.  Don’t try to gain speed with your runs. Instead just keep a steady pace for as long as you can.  It is ideal that you make your runs last longer than 30 minutes, that is if you want to start burning calories stored from fat, you know, for weight loss.

-Running for speed requires anaerobic exercises.  Short 100 meter sprints are going to be the most effective way to train your body to move quicker.  This is actually going to tear apart your muscles more, and the repairing process will actually cause some caloric burn of its own.  So speed runners lose fat too, but they usually gain muscle as well.