Running Fitness in AFL Football

With AFL preseason underway and the start of the season just around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to discuss the type of cardiovascular fitness required to compete at your best. AFL is a physically challenging sport for many reasons, with players required to have strength, power, speed, and endurance if they want to compete as hard as they can. During preseason and the offseason, a large amount of emphasis is placed on a player’s running fitness, where coaches and trainers work on both aerobic and anaerobic capacities.

There are three types of energy systems used in exercise:

  1. Aerobic energy system, a system that requires oxygen that uses carbohydrates and fats to release slow energy. It cannot produce ATP as quickly as the other two systems, however is able to store more than the other energy systems, making it useful for slower but longer types of exercise.
  2. ATP-CP energy system, the most powerful energy system which is utilised in short, but explosive activities such as a 50m sprint.
  3. Lactate energy system, a system that is utilised for prolonged periods of high intensity activity, such as a 400m run.


AFL is a unique sport whereby all three energy systems are utilised. Running from contest to contest involves your aerobic system. Explosive movements when running for a mark involves the ATP-CP energy system. Chasing down your opponent in a prolonged sprint effort uses your lactate energy system.


During your preseason training you should aim to work on all three of these energy systems to prepare yourself best for the footy season. While doing a slow jog of your local running circuit will provide aerobic benefits, it’s not preparing you for the more explosive movements involved in footy.


A six week period of running blocks that engages all three systems will put you in a good position to play the best footy that you can play. Interval running, repeat sprints, fartlek and higher intensity running are all worthwhile to develop all three energy systems.


While we understand that you may want to increase your training regime to improve as quickly as possible, increasing your training comes at an added risk of injury, particularly in the lower leg. If you would like to increase your training regime in preparation for the season but have a foot or ankle injury that’s hindering you, feel free to come and see us at TFC Podiatry for a full assessment. We are well trained at identifying any potential risk factors associated with your injury as well as developing a personalised intervention plan.


Assessments include:

  • Muscle testing
  • Strength assessment
  • Thorough history taking and injury history assessment
  • Radiology imaging referrals if required


Treatments include:

  • Gait retraining
  • Education
  • Footwear education
  • Massage therapy
  • Injection therapy
  • Strength and conditioning and training tips


If you would like to book in for a check-up book online or give us a call.



Your appointment at TFC Podiatry begins with listening to your story

We want to know how your foot or ankle concerns impact your life and learn about your goals.