I would like to talk about a very memorable experience of mine that involves lactic acid and fermentation. I remember the day my coach decided to have me run a 400m for the first time. This was the 400m relay. I thought, well I haven’t really had a chance to train for it, but that I would give it a go. My coach told me that running this event would help my 60m and 200m. I thought, ok I’m not sure how to run this, but I’ll do my best. At the start line, I held the baton in my hand, and I was ready to go. This was a meet during indoor track, which means that I had to run 2 laps in order to complete the 400m.I started off running the first leg of the relay. My goal was to stay right with the girl from Bates. I knew that I needed to go out strong in order to break the stagger. I flew threw the first turn and accelerated into the straightaway. Then I thought about maintaining my speed for the next turn and straightaway. I thought to myself, you’re doing ok. You’ve just got one more lap to go. I was right behind the girl from Bates. I accelerated again through the next turn onto the straightaway when suddenly it hit!
I had often been told by my coaches about the legendary monkey on my back. Well it didn’t feel like there was a monkey on mine, more like a monkey on top of a bear sitting on a mac truck, all resting on top of me. There is no other way to describe the pain inflicted during that last 100m. My legs burned, I was gasping for air, but I fought hard. I didn’t want that Bates girl to get ahead of me. I pulled through, took huge breaths, and finally, ahead of the group, thrust my baton into the hands of our second leg of the relay. After running that first 400, I truly felt the workings of fermentation! I could very much feel that lactic acid buildup in my legs.
After that first 400, I thought that I would injure myself if I continued to run the event, and since it was painful, I figured that I wasn’t in shape or that I had some genetic defect that made it difficult for me to run a 400. But I was wrong.
Throughout the season, my coach told me to do the 400 workouts. I thought, ok this is strange. But even though the workouts were hard, the 400s seemed to become easier and easier for me, and I started to go faster and faster in the relays, to the point where I was anchoring our relay. So was I able to build up a tolerance to Lactic Acid? Is it true that continual high levels of activity (such as running 400s each week) allowed my body to process and absorb lactic acid more efficiently? Yes.
Does anyone have similar stories, perhaps in distance running or other sports and activities?