By: Justina Rosado

Training for Endurance

I have spent many years training for endurance, all the while supplementing my training with CrossFit, but only in the past year have I begun to focus exclusively on strength training in Olympic weightlifting. While there are many differences in the way training must be approached, there are also more similarities than you might realize. If you’re thinking about upping your mileage as you prepare for that first half or full marathon this fall, here are some things to keep in mind.

You must be relentless: constantly taking one step at a time towards your goal.

Constantly running will greatly improve your aerobic capacity, but you will also gradually adapt to being on your feet for extended periods of time. These two adaptations will allow you to run farther longer.

When changing a variable in your training, it is important to only change one variable at a time. Do not increase mileage and run harder workouts at the same time. Try not to increase mileage by more than 10%. Any actual increase in mileage should be within the plan and serve a purpose.

Consistency is key. If you have been consistent at 30 miles per week and have been having great workouts, it would be a good idea to add a few miles per week. All training should allow for a cut back week every 2-5 weeks allowing the body to recover from the increases.

Don’t rush! Sometimes people get antsy because they sign up for a marathon and read that they should be running 20 mile long runs. Your long run(s) usually shouldn’t be more than 25-30% of your weekly mileage. It takes time to build your base mileage to that level. If you do too much too soon and are unable to finish a race, it could set you back not only physically, but mentally too. If you are an experienced runner you should evaluate your training over the course of several years. Look carefully at when you ran successfully; were you running more mileage when you had an injury? Evaluating several years of training can help you to identify the amount of mileage that you are successful running.

As mileage increases, be prepared to spend the vast majority of your free time training. Peak endurance training will eat up a lot of your time and probably cut into your social life.

Run slower to get faster. Running at a slower pace helps facilitate blood flow to muscles that need repair after a hard workout, whether it’s CrossFit or speed training, and it will actually help speed up the recovery process if done correctly. When your heart is working too hard, it puts more stress on the body and debilitates the recovery process. Furthermore, when your body is unable to recover correctly between workouts, it can lead to burn out or injury.

Low intensity training also aids the growth of mitochondria which helps the body burn fat efficiently. Using fat stores as fuel will allow your body to become a more efficient aerobic runner which allows you to run for a longer time without hitting a wall. With an increased capillary capacity, oxygen can be exchanged in cells more efficiently which means your muscles can get the oxygen they need to keep running faster.

Every element should be calculated such as sleep, hydration, nutrition, and recovery, not just your training schedule.

Food is fuel, not a reward. Like an athlete of any sport, it’s extremely important to maintain a clean diet to maximize performance. Through trial and error, you will find what works best for you before and during long runs. In endurance training, sometimes a dietary error can cost you your workout. IT’S OKAY: better to sacrifice a workout than a race.

Sleeping a full night is incredibly important for energy and muscle restoration. Other elements to consider are stretching on a daily basis and water consumption.

The weather can also greatly affect endurance training, especially if you do not have access to a treadmill, stationary bike, rower, or indoor pool. Regardless, you should attempt to mimic the race environment as best as possible during training. Unless you are competing in an indoor race, it would not be as advantageous to use such equipment (exclusively). Whether your race is on roads or trails, it would behoove you train on the same terrain and prepare your body for what’s to come. From pounding the pavement to potentially rolling some ankles on rocks and roots, your body will thank you on race day. You will also feel more “at home” which will put your mind at ease.

You must be willing to endure a certain level of pain.

Whether it’s attempting a PR 5k or running 100 miles, we are pushing our limits to the maximum. Expect to feel some discomfort along the way. When faced with such difficulties, however, you must believe in yourself and your abilities. Believing in yourself allows you to trust the training. It allows your mind and body to work together. As a coach I am often asked, “What do athletes who make drastic breakthroughs have?” The secret to that “extra edge” is quite simple: they 100 percent believe in themselves, their training & their abilities to reach their goals.