So let's get some basic ground rules down for endurance athletes. You can say these are for those new to the sport, but if I'm completely honest, I see athletes trying to bypass the basics and making the same mistakes time and time again in their training. The complex nature of sessions and the search for a silver bullet often takes precedence over getting the basics right. Once we get to the heady heights, then we can maybe look to get complex, but even then, simple is often best. Let's keep it simple, here's four nice and easy tips to get started.....
Sleep and recovery
This is one way to get the best gains possible out of the work you do in your training. Rest and recovery, natures way to adapt to training and make you stronger.
A range of 7-9 h is appropriate for adults and 8-10 h for teenagers; however, athletes may need more to recover from the physical and psychological demands of the sport. The amount of sleep athletes get may need to increase depending on the training load of the sport
and the age of the athlete.
Tips for better sleep quality -
- Avoid stimulants (e.g., caffeine), alcohol, and heavy meals too close to bedtime
- Ensure adequate exposure to natural light in the morning
- Do not lie in bed awake for long periods of time
- Have a relaxing bedtime routine
- Have a sleep environment conducive to sleep which is cool, dark and quiet.
- Don't have kids (joking!)
Nutrition and fuelling right.
If you are not fuelling right, then at best you won't be performing to your best, at worst, we are looking at clinical issues that can take years to fix and get right. I won't go into this here, check my other blogs for the detail.
Strength training is been proven to benefit endurance training. Research has found concurrent strength and endurance training increases the size and fatigue resistance of muscle-fibers, and increases the proportion of type IIa fibers, while decreasing the proportion of the less fatigue resistant type IIb fibers. It significantly increases exercise efficiency, the speed or power output at the lactate threshold, fatigue resistance and endurance exercise performance.
There a few go to types of strength training that improve exercise performance: heavy resistance training, explosive strength training (plyometrics) and core strength training. Of these, heavy resistance training and plyometric training appear to be the most effective. Current research suggests exercise using weights that can be lifted for 4-10 repetitions (approximately 70-85% of 1 repetition maximum). Each workout should include 3-10 sets and be performed 2-3 times per week. However, for most endurance athletes, 1-2weekly sessions will be sufficient.
Personally, as a masters athlete, if I begin to miss my bi-weekly S&C session I know in a few weeks the niggles will start to appear. My go to tends to be box jumps, back squats and on the floor core exercises. It doesn't have to take long, 20m mins twice a week can get you what you need. With a busy family and work life, something is better than nothing every time.
Consistency is key.
Ask any professional athlete what session they would recommend, I can almost guarantee they will tell you that consistency trumps everything else every time. It is what you do each and every day, over and over again that gets you the results. If we familiarise ourselves with Wolffs Law, which states that the body conforms and adapts to the intensities and directions it is habitually subjected to. The key here is 'habitual', not once or twice but continually subjecting the body to a workload over weeks and months will make you faster, fitter and stronger. That key session everyone raves about will make little difference in isolation, keep doing the little things right every day and you'll reap the rewards.
Personally, consistency applies across the board and is the most important. Training, eating, sleeping, resting.....
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle”
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