“The fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.”
This is endurance.
I believe that endurance is one of the most important aspects of training for anyone who plans on completing a marathon, triathlon, or any long race. You are putting your body through a difficult situation (for a long time) hoping not to give way. So, how can we build our endurance in order to withstand these trying conditions?
First and foremost, you need to provide your body with something that is going to give you the energy to workout. Your body requires certain nutrients and substances in order to preform – especially when you’re demanding strenuous workouts and simply asking a lot of your body. Getting the nutrients you body needs is crucial when building endurance. It lays the foundation. There are many aspects of nutrition, but something that provides energy is going to help you preform and feel your best during your workout. Making each workout count is important in building endurance, and with the proper fuel, you can accomplish anything. Glukos Energy bars, gels, and chews are an amazing, highly recommended natural energy source for runners and endurance athletes alike. Your body can immediately absorb the glucose (natural energy) allowing for convenience and energy on the go. Use Glukos Energy not only while training and building endurance, but afterwards to help with recovery, and even (especially!) on race day.
- Be consistent
As with many things in life, consistency is key. Being consistent in your sport and doing it 4-6 times a week is incredibly important in order to maintain and build your endurance. If you’re training for a marathon, it’s important to run almost daily – even if just a couple miles. For example, if you run 20 miles in one day but take 6 days of rest, you may not see the same results as someone who runs 2 miles Monday through Friday then 10 miles on Saturday, with Sunday being a rest day. The number of rest days you have is up to you and/or your coach, but just getting out there and doing the movements even if just for a short while will keep your body conditioned and ready to endure a long run in the future.
- Build up
Build up to your goal. If your goal is to run 26.2 miles but you’ve only ever run 2 miles at a time, I wouldn’t recommend going out and trying to run 26.2 miles straight away. Not only is your endurance not built up, but your muscles and joints aren’t prepared to take that beating. Do what you can (consistently!) and gradually build up. For example, if you’re comfortable with 2 miles, run 2 miles 3-5 times a week. Then, on your long run (once a week), run 3 or 4 miles. Gradually build that long run up to your goal distance. You could add a mile each week or every other week to your long run while keeping the short runs at your comfortable distance. Consistency and gradual build up will get you to your goal.
Ok, one more. Cross-training is preforming something other than the sport you’re training for in order to prepare you for that sport. For example, if you’re training to run a marathon, cross-training could include cycling, swimming, or weight training. Cycling (outdoors or in a ‘spin’ class) and swimming in particular are incredibly efficient for building endurance. I recommend and personally cycle and swim as often as I can without overdoing it. If you can do one or the other – or both – once a week, it’s likely that you’ll see huge improvements in your endurance. There are many cross-training options out there. These are just my personal favorites and were also suggested to me by a running coach. It’s important to find something challenging yet enjoyable! You want to look forward to cross-training. Not only is it great for building endurance, but it keeps you from getting bored with your sport and works different muscles. Cross-training is just useful and important all around.
Of course, there are many, many other workouts, training plans, and things to consider when training for an endurance event such as a marathon. Tempo runs, speed work, stretches, strength training, nutrition… the list goes on. I do believe, though, that with these three key factors – anyone can improve their endurance. It will take time, persistence, dedication, and hard work – but having endurance is something that will take you very far (literally) and help immensely with any sport or physical activity.