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What is Endurance training and why do I need it?

Categories: Exercise

What is Endurance training?

When I think about endurance training, what immediately pops into my mind is an elastic band. Imagine a child playing with a colourful elastic band, stretching it then releasing it several times. If you have a child, you know that this can happen for hours at a time and if the elastic band is one of good quality, it will not break.

Now, endurance training is when you make your body work like that little elastic band. It refers to your body's ability to withstand fatigue, stress or pain and still remain active over time. Muscular endurance refers to the ability your muscles to contract repeatedly over an extended period of time without burning out. For example, keeping your legs kicking and your hands pulling while swimming for an extended period of time requires muscular endurance. Cardiovascular endurance refers to the ability of your circulatory system to pump oxygen to the rest of your body steadily for long periods. An example of this is being able to keep your breath steady during a long run.

What is the importance of endurance training?

Endurance training has several advantages to your body. It enhances your performance during a workout, provides you with longer lasting energy and improves the functioning of your heart. As a plus, your metabolism also increases, which is definitely a welcome advantage.

What are Endurance training exercises?

These are aerobic exercises rather than anaerobic. When people hear about endurance training, they automatically think about long distance running, swimming or cycling. These three are also combined to form a triathlon, which requires a lot of both muscular and cardiovascular endurance. Other sports include rowing and cross country skiing.

Endurance training is also needed in other sports too, such as basketball, hockey, racket sports, football, rugby, martial arts and cricket.

There are various techniques used to train endurance athletes. These include:

  • Periodisation
  • Intervals
  • Hard easy
  • Long slow distance
  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

Training programs are usually structured to bring an athlete into their peak fitness st the time of a big event or race. When an athlete is training, there are various phases an athlete goes through to prepare for their race, say a marathon. These include:

  • Preparation phase – This includes easy shorter runs
  • Base phase -  Includes several longer runs, adding more mileage every week
  • Build phase – Shorter duration runs at a higher intensity
  • Race phase – Workout duration decreases but intensity remains

Although endurance trainers may use HIIT, the two are different in that endurance training primarily involves aerobic energy while HIIT uses both aerobic and anaerobic energy. Think of the difference between running a full marathon and a hundred meter dash. The two are both great forms of exercise. The marathon allows to you withstand constant pressure for longer periods of time while maintaining your cool – so to speak, while a sprint ensures that you use up most or all your energy in a short period of time then recover.