Problems of Lactate Testing (Part 2) Posted on February 18, 2018

By Rameshon


Picture 1- Finishing Singapore International Marathon 1994 in 2hr 34min 02sec

In 1994, Singapore International Marathon, I did a time of 2hr 34min 02sec, and did a personal best time,  for local marathon route. Two months before the race, I did my training similar to what my former coach, Alan Guilder would give. A sense of elation came as it was the fastest time for a local runner to obtain a time in Singapore. N. Ganesan told me this. 

After running the race, I found that there was a middle distance runner who ran the race. His blood lactate was taken after the race. That was the first time, I have heard of people taking lactate test. The test was taken by a coach, who was a Physical Education teacher as well. After finishing my race, I saw the middle distance runner running in at the last part of the race, at steady state, not that tired indeed, and completing in a reasonable time of sub-4hours. 

After the test, I was curious to find out on how the the lactate score will be. I waited for the middle distance runner’s score for lactate. It was found to be 5 blood millimole. When I found this out, I started reflecting on the validity of the test. I was wondering within myself, “How on earth did the runner get 5 blood millimole as he did not sprint etc?”. As I ran a steady state race and won the local category, my score should be 2 blood millimole.

Hence, it was felt that if the middle distance runner have run steadily and did not go all out, or last for a minute in a part of a race, the score should be 2 blood millimole and below. Thus, I felt that there was a mistake in the lactate score. 

If one has a 5 blood millimole score, the run can only last for a minute, as the acid/alkaline ph balance will be greatly affected and it would have been hard in tolerating high levels of lactic acid in the blood. In fact, to sustain anything for a minute will be a grave problem. However, as there was no any form of sprint, and only steady run and easy run towards the finish, it was deduced that the lactate test has no validity. 

Therefore, being informed in testing and having a Sports Science knowledge is very important, coupled with coaching experience. Lactate test can go wrong and the option is not to go wrong. That is the reason why most of the coaches do come out with training plans by working out on % HRmax intensity. It is one of the easiest method to use and coming out with a person training plan for the week. 

Also, as part of my partial requirement for the degree in Loughborough University, which was on doing a research, I did  a research on’ % Maximum Heart Rate (HR max) while doing 1500m race’. When I was in Loughborough University, I also found that it was hard to get a research paper on Heart Rate and performance, such was the difficulty. Only by going through American College of Sport  Science, I was able to use the scores on % Hear Rate and this assisted in  assisting my research.

Edited by Tan Mariviv

About the author:

(Degree in PE and Sports Science, Loughborough University, 1992 -1994)

(Masters in Education – University of Western Australia, 2005 to 2008)