So you want to go further and train for longer? Fear not! Building endurance is not as hard as you may think.
Set yourself a goal and follow these 10 steps to help you achieve it.
1. Stay hydrated
The importance of staying hydrated during exercise cannot be overstated. It is important to drink plenty of water prior to starting as well as during training. This helps to reduce muscle fatigue and cramps during your training session.
2. Up your protein intake
It’s not only strength training that breaks down muscle tissue, endurance training does too. To replenish these stores, it is important to consume foods high in amino acids such as lean meats, eggs and leafy greens.
3. Warm up
Before your body sets in for the long haul, you need to prepare it to work to capacity. Combine some light exercise with a series of stretches. This helps increase blood flow to all the muscles you’ll be using during training.
4. Change your attitude
Don’t think you can do it? Well you probably won’t. Self-belief is an essential ingredient in effective endurance training. Setting achievable goals can also be a great motivating force. The triumphant feeling you get when you overcome each milestone is hard to beat, not to mention providing the inspiration you need to tackle the next one.
5. Quality vs Quantity
The best way to train for endurance is to train smart. Map out a training program over a period of weeks and slowly build up the time and intensity. Slow and steady wins the race, and also helps to reduce the risk of injury.
6. Exercise economy
Improving your technique can economise your energy expenditure and, in turn, help you to go further. For swimmers, think about lengthening strokes. Runners, stretch out that stride. Even your position on a bicycle can significantly affect the amount of energy you expend. Figuring out the most economic way of performing each element of your training will yield encouraging results.
7. Switch it up
Keep things fresh! Incorporate a variety of skills into your workout. Another great training approach for endurance is interval training. While your overall goal is to travel further, interval training will improve your speed as well as your aerobic capacity. So throw in some shorter distances and see how much you improve!
8. Cool down
You’ve reached your target distance. Congrats! But don’t take the runners off just yet. Many people underestimate the importance of cooling down after a workout. Low-intensity exercise such as light jogging will help to clear the build up of lactic acid you’ve developed while training, and this will help lessen the severity of muscle soreness later on.
9. Refuel: carbs, carbs, carbs
Carbohydrates (the good ones: think pasta, rice and bread, not pastries!) are converted in the body to make glycogen, our muscles’ primary fuel. Carb-loading with healthy carbs before training is important, but so is a post-training feed to replenish your stores. Enjoy!
10. Rest and Recover
Give yourself a break. No one can train at his or her full capacity seven days a week. Introduce rest days where you can take some time to recover. On these days, engage in low-aerobic activities and stretches. If you’re an early morning runner, take a day to sleep in every now and then, your body will thank you for it.