During aerobic activity, your body supplies the muscles with most of the oxygen lost during work. The muscles require oxygen for the oxidation of fat and carbohydrates. In order to maintain this balance and keep the muscles supplied with oxygen, the rate of exercise must be between 50-75% of your maximum heart rate. If the exercise becomes too intense, the heart is not able to provide the muscles with the needed oxygen so they will switch to alternative sources of energy. Beyond this point, any further activity is considered anaerobic.
Aerobic ability is determined by the maximum amount of oxygen that your body can consume, or VO2 max. VO2 max is largely dependent on the efficiency of your body’s “oxygen transport system”.
Jog over 3000 meters (2 miles) at 50-60 percent, preferably on grass or a running track. Jogging for periods of over 20-30 minutes improves your cardiovascular system and capillarisation. Furthermore, jogging develops your heart as a muscle. To stay fit as a soccer player, especially during the off-season, you need to go out for a jog at least once every 2-3 days.
The technique for jogging is slightly different compared to that of sprinting. Contact the floor with the area from the middle of the foot to the heel and shift the weight up to the toes. Drive your arms parallel to the direction you are facing. If your head seems to move up and down (or from side-to-side) a lot, then you are not jogging efficiently.
Next time you hit the track, bring a stopwatch along to see how you stack up against these international records:
Run for exactly 12 minutes on a track so you can measure the distance you have covered. Ideally, you should be able to complete at least 8 laps (3200 meters or about 2 miles) within the allotted 12 minutes. Push yourself in each session and try to improve on your best distance.
Running uphill or on sand
Run over 1500 meters (1 mile) on sand or an inclined surface. Intensity should be between 60-80 percent. An intense run between 1-2 miles improves glycogen burning as well as lactate tolerance and removal. These are chemicals that accumulate in the muscles and cause fatigue.
Dribble continuously with the ball for a period of 10-15 minutes. This can be done around a soccer field or on any suitable area, preferably grass. The drill improves both aerobic and anaerobic fitness as well as coordination.
References and further reading:
Conditioning for Soccer by Joe Luxbacher
International Age Records by Dominique Eisold