Posted on November 18, 2016 by Jenny Cromack

endurance training

During the final months writing my dissertation I often, similarly to many of my peers, looked for ways to procrastinate from finishing the 10,000 word piece of writing. The answer I came up with was exercise, specifically long distance running (it meant I spent the longest time away from my computer!). Although a successful distraction and stress reliever, I found my running times would be inconsistent and show little improvement – very frustrating. Here are my tips to training as effectively as possible , specifically looking at endurance training.

What Is Endurance?

To be a successful endurance athlete we need to have a good level of aerobic fitness. The only energy source the body can use when performing an endurance sport is oxygen, therefore aerobic fitness is key. But what does aerobic fitness actually comprise of and how does that impact on performance.

The four physiological variables that impact on endurance exercise are:

* Economy of exercise

* Vo2 max – Maximal aerobic capacity

* Anaerobic capacity

* Lactate threshold

Let’s unpack these four factors a little here, so that we can address exactly how to improve on each one in your weekly/daily training programme. These variables can be simplified, here are what really influences endurance exercise:

* How good your technique is

* The efficiency of the lungs and blood stream for delivery of oxygen to the muscles

* Strength/power of the muscles

* What is the highest intensity your body can cope with only using oxygen as fuel – before legs turn to jelly!!

The next question is how do we make training directly relate to these variables on a day to day basis? Simply split your endurance training into three categories, each category will improve a different variable of endurance performance.

1. Easy Training

Used for recovery sessions, these are between 30-60 minutes long at a low intensity approximately 60-70% HRmax. A good opportunity to focus on your running/ swimming/cycling mechanics (economy). Looking at the information above, the economy of exercise contributes over 40% for running distances great than 10km.

2. Threshold Training

This type of training will be at and around 70-90% of the HRmax typically these session will last around 30 minutes and will be continuous. Great for working on reducing that jelly feeling in the legs.

3. Interval Training

Finally the interval training sessions, the work period will be between 60 seconds – 5 minutes and intensity will be >90% of HRmax. This training has been shown to improve utilisation of inhaled oxygen as well as the strength of the working muscles. A simple example of an interval session would be 8 × 800m with 3 minutes walking in-between.

If we categorise ‘easy’ training as low intensity exercise and threshold and interval training as high intensity exercise then only 20% of your training should be low and 80% should be high intensity. For example an individual training 5 times a week, would look to incorporate 1 low intensity session and 4 high intensity sessions within the week – remembering the rest periods are a vital part of training.

Hopefully knowing what type of endurance training to complete and how it benefits your overall endurance capacity to give you a more clear idea of how to train on a day to day basis.