As an endurance athlete, it is important to understand the different metabolic pathways that are at play when you are running, cycling, swimming, or competing in a triathlon. Knowing the basics of metabolic pathways can help you maximize your performance and achieve your fitness goals. Let’s break down the most important metabolic pathways and how they impact your performance.
Creatine Phosphagen System (CPS)
The Creatine Phosphagen System (CPS) is one of the primary fuel sources used during short-term activities such as sprinting or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This system utilizes stored ATP to provide energy for approximately 10 seconds of activity before its resources become depleted. It takes approximately 5 minutes for the CPS to restore its stores of ATP so that it can be used again during exercise.
The Glycolytic System is another primary fuel source used by endurance athletes. This system breaks down carbohydrates into glucose which is then converted into energy for muscular contractions. It produces energy more quickly than the oxidative system but also fatigues much more quickly. The glycolytic system works best during moderate intensity activities that require sustained effort for more than 10 seconds but less than 90 seconds—think 400m dash or a 100m swim race!
Lastly, we have the Oxidative System which is responsible for providing energy over long periods of time such as marathon running or long distance biking events. This system uses fat and carbohydrate stores within the body to produce ATP which then provides energy for muscular contractions over long periods of time. The oxidative system takes longer to produce energy than either the CPS or Glycolytic systems, but it does not fatigue as quickly so it can sustain activity over longer periods of time without depleting its resources.
Understanding these three metabolic pathways—Creatine Phosphagen, Glycolytic, and Oxidative—is key to maximizing your performance as an endurance athlete. Knowing how each pathway works and how it impacts your performance will help you become a better runner, cyclist, swimmer, or triathlete in no time! With practice and dedication you will be able to optimize your performance by utilizing all three metabolic pathways during your workouts and competitions!