Updated: Mar 2, 2020
There are many factors that contribute to success when training for endurance sports. Don't get me wrong, even if you do all of these things, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll hit the podium, but you will have a more successful season!
These 6 key factors are:
In Part 1 today, I will be covering the first 2, strength training and consistency.
Most people scoff at the benefits of strength training because it "takes away from their sport," but the reality is, it only enhances your ability to perform your sport even better! Think about your professional athletes here. Yes, they spend a lot of time training for their sport, but they also spend plenty of quality time in the gym.
Proper strength training will keep you less prone to those repetitive motion injuries - and, if you think about the fact that, on average, one foot strikes the ground 90-100 times/minute, that means for a 30-minute run, you are hitting the ground 2700 times! I would call that a repetitive motion. In addition, consider that each time your foot strikes the ground, it is equivalent to 3 1/2 times the person's bodyweight. So, even for a 100 lb runner, that means 350 lbs of force on those muscles, joints, etc.
So, what keeps our joints healthy? Strength training! Especially doing exercises that require balance and stability versus sitting on a machine and pushing or pulling.
Time in the gym is like money in the bank - fewer injuries, few doctor visits, and less time stressing out about the fact that you aren't able to do the things you want to do. Of course, if you are injured, strength training is a great way to use your extra time, or get you back on the road!
This is exactly what it sounds like. If you have a training plan, stick with it (or as I like to say, "SWTFP," which stands for "stick with the f*cking plan"). If you don't have a plan, get one. Even if you can't afford to pay for a plan, find one online. Obviously, if you use an online plan, it doesn't always work perfectly with the rest of your life, but do your best to stick with it. If you have a coach writing your plan, talk to your coach so he/she knows what your schedule is so they can adjust the plan so you don't have to. Consistency is critical because it builds strength and endurance over time as well as keeps you motivated. Skipping exercise affects each of these negatively and can increase injury.
Endurance also fades if you skip exercising for too many days in a row. The same is true, sadly, with motivation. In study after study, researchers have found that one of the primary reasons people continue exercising is that they enjoyed yesterday's exercise or the exertions of the day before; they felt healthier and more physically masterful afterward and wish to relive that sensation. Longer periods between exercise sessions potentially could dull that enthusiasm.
The fact is that you don't want to miss more than a couple days in a row if you can help it. Motivation alone is tough to get back after that, but the health effects are just as important. It's a good thing working an exercise routine into your schedule isn't too hard.
Stay tuned for Part 2, when we'll get into hydration and nutrition!
Author: Vicki Ostendorf
PubMed Central. Progressive resistance strength training for improving physical function in older adults. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4324332/.
ChiroHealth Solutions. Running Injuries. Retrieved from https://www.chirohealthsolutions.net/storage/app/media/cropped_images/Running_injury_Report.pdf.
Life Hacker. Why Consistency Matters With Exercise. Retrieved from https://lifehacker.com/why-consistency-matters-with-exercise-513762748.