With your typical long distance run, the primary energy system that is utilized is the oxidative or aerobic system. Aerobic endurance is the primary physical quality that is developed and relied on for this form of activity. What many fail to realize is the fact that the other energy systems that we possess are also utilized during running as all energy systems work in conjunction with one another. Each main energy system also has subdivisions if you really want to get specific, but I’ll keep things simple here.
Moving on, towards the end of a race when you need that final “kick” to finish extra fast, you’d better hope that your anaerobic glycolytic system is up to par. If it is not, you will be out of gas and can lose out on precious seconds. To simplify things, if the only form of energy systems training that you utilize is long distance running, you need to start training your other systems. If you bring your anaerobic system up to par, it will assist your aerobic. While your phosphocreatine system needs to be developed, it is not as important for our purposes here. Thus, I am going to focus on ways to develop your anaerobic system. Phosphocreatine will generally be taken care of with this anyway.
Since we are talking running, we will use spints as an example here. Running sprint intervals is a great way to take care of things. An example would be running a 10-30 second interval followed by a 60-90 second recovery period. This would be performed for multiple rounds. Other options (there are many) include airdyne bike intervals, sled dragging/pushing intervals, jump rope and many more. This will boost your overall running performance like you wouldn’t believe. (Not to mention will work miracles for fat loss)
Pick 3-5 movements and perform them in a row. An example would be the following: Quick steps, sled drags, kettlebell swings, jump rope. Perform each exercise for a prescribed number of reps one after another and then rest between rounds. Circuits keep things fun and can be used for anaerobic focus or can be done for time for more of an aerobic focus.
Take an exercise such as the squat. Perform reps in a 1-10-1 fashion. This means you would do one squat, rest a second, do two squats, rest, three squats, rest, all the way up to 10 in the same fashion. When you reach ten squats, you then go back down the ladder from ten to one. This will humble your conditioning like you wouldn’t believe.
These are just a few examples of ways to bring up energy systems not being focused on with your typical long distance run. If you are not training them, you need to start if you are serious about being a good runner.