Let’s talk about enzymes! I love enzymes!

Enzymes speed up chemical reactions. What that means is that they make you run faster (although I skipped over a lot of steps!). In the absence of enzymes, chemical reactions wouldn’t occur quickly enough to generate the energy you need to run.

Enzymes have funny names, like succinate dehydrogenase and phosphofructokinase. Some of them are tongue twisters!

Enzymes can be activated or inhibited, which means that their effectiveness in speeding up chemical reactions can be either increased or decreased, determining which metabolic pathways are functional during certain cellular conditions. Enzymes essentially control metabolism and therefore control the pace at which you fatigue. Isn’t that cool?

Both aerobic and anaerobic training increase their respective enzyme activity. Do more aerobic training and you increase enzymes involved in aerobic metabolism. Do more anaerobic training and you increase enzymes involved in anaerobic metabolism.

Now listen closely because this is what you came for: The more aerobic enzymes you have, the more you steer metabolism toward a greater reliance on aerobic metabolism at a given pace. Without a surplus of aerobic enzymes, your muscles will rely on anaerobic metabolism and you’ll fatigue (slow down) at a slower pace. To be a better distance runner, one of the goals of your training should be to make as many aerobic enzymes as possible.

4 Responses to ENZYMES

    • Hi, Cindy. A few different ways. The typical way to make more aerobic enzymes is to run more. With an increase in running volume, you make more mitochondria and the enzymes contained within them for aerobic metabolism. But VO2max interval training can also increase enzyme activity. To make anaerobic enzymes, do fast interval workouts that rely on anaerobic glycolysis.

  1. So we want more aerobic enzymes. I get that. The more aerobic enzymes, the greater reliance on aerobic metabolism so you won’t fatigue as quickly as if you were depending on anaerobic metabolism?

    You said WITHOUT a surplus of aerobic enzymes, you’ll fatigue more slowly. I thought you wanted more aerobic enzymes to help avoid fatigue.

    • Hi, Jill. Without many aerobic enzymes, you’ll fatigue at a slower pace, not more slowly. Making more enzymes will indeed avoid fatigue because your muscles will be better able to rely on aerobic metabolism. If you make more anaerobic enzymes, you’ll also avoid fatigue by enhancing anaerobic metabolism.

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