Why does a runner continue to breathe heavily after completing a ten mile run with a sprint at the end?
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During a ten mile run, aerobic metabolism is the primary source of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) production for muscle contraction. Anaerobic metabolism provides the short (15 to 20 seconds) burst of energy for the sprint to the finish. After the race, aerobic metabolism is elevated for some time to repay the oxygen debt, causing the heavy breathing after the race.