Two run drills to improve your tolerance to lactate build-up

Try these workouts to help you learn to pace, tolerate and accept lactate accumulation

Athlete running hard

We all know how painful it can be when lactate builds up in muscles during high-intensity workouts – but how can you increase your tolerance? Joe Beer explains…

Advertisement MPU article

Lactate-building run sets are just that. You increase effort and learn to pace, tolerate and accept that running off the bike is time for you and lactate to become well acquainted.

Get your pace wrong and, well, you’ll learn a big, albeit painful, lesson that’ll be very useful come race day. Doing this session once a week for four to six weeks up to your first race is a perfect way to hit that first triathlon run leg on-form.



Run kit, race shoes and warm-up gear. It’s better to do an anaerobic session like this later in the day if possible. Have a high carb snack that sits well in the stomach 1-2.5hrs beforehand, caffeine as in the above bike session and hydrate enough so that you feel energised.


Relaxed mid Z1 for 10mins; then 5mins raising the pace for 30 strides so heart rate tops off at high Z1 (75% HRmax) or low Z2 (80%HRmax). Relaxed running in between – aim to arrive at the incline for the main set ready for some real efforts.

Main sessions

These longer reps start with 3 x 4mins and can build to 3 x 7mins, but they have no rest interval between them. They’re back to back, increasing in effort and up a slight incline to make for a more honest effort. Ideally aim for 84, 87 then 90% of max heart rate.


Relaxed 10mins light jog home, so plan intervals to finish quite close. The less jogging after the better, better to spin your legs out on the turbo instead.


Same as the beginner session, but with this as the main set:

Main session

Longer reps of 3 x 7mins building to 3 x 10mins with no rest interval between. Increase effort through the reps as 84, 87 then 90% of max heart rate.

(Main image: Jonny Gawler)

Advertisement MPU article

For lots more advice, head to our Training section