Sunday, August 29, 2010

Why moving a little too fast can cost you a lot, especially at altitude

Ever head out trying to follow someone's blistering pace, only to finally slow down and feel depleted? When that happens, you actually can't just slow down a little bit to "make up" for speeding up before. No, basically you've screwed yourself for the rest of the day. Why?

When you hike (or run, bike, etc...), you are using multiple energy pathways. The rate of energy production from each of these pathways is different.


For the sake of simplicity, we are only going to talk about the two systems that use glycogen (stored sugar). Anaerobic glycolysis can produce ATP (energy) at a faster rate than aerobic glycolysis can. The faster you are moving and harder you are working, the more energy you are going to get anaerobically. Ok sounds great!

But as you would guess, there's a cost to that. The cost is how much glycogen is used.