Dave Burke, Park Manager for British Military Fitness, advises you on how to improve your endurance.
Photo British Military Fitness
With the popularity of events such as the Marathon des Sables and the Ironman soaring, it’s go hard or go home, and endurance events are all the rage.
Whether you’re running your first marathon or taking part in a six day endurance event across the Saharan desert, having the strength, both physical and mental, to carry on without giving up is absolutely key to your success. Here, I offer my top tips for building endurance ahead of whatever event you are taking part in, to ensure you stick to your training plan and fly through that finish line:
Eat, eat, eat
When you’re training for an endurance event, be it a marathon, triathlon or Ironman, your usual aesthetic goals will take a back seat. You’re going to need to up your food intake.
This is not an excuse to eat pizza and burgers to your hearts content! Ensure you’re getting a good blend of protein, good fats and carbohydrates and focus on consuming whole foods, which are foods that are as close as possible to their natural form e.g. whole grains, fruits and vegetables and chicken breasts. The less ingredients on the packet, the better. Try to avoid excessive sugar consumption – unless your workout is over two hours long you shouldn’t need it. When it gets to event time, high sugar foods are OK to give you an energy boost to get you through the course, but ensure you experiment with how much works for you.
Mix it up
The temptation when you’re training for an endurance event such as a marathon is to hike up the long runs and neglect other sorts of exercise, yet mixing up your training is a great way to ensure your routine doesn’t get monotonous. It will also help to prevent over-training – when you push your body too far in one direction without giving it time to recover.
Ensure to keep gentle exercise such as walking, cycling and swimming in your routine to give your body time to recover, as well as throwing in exercise which will get your whole body moving and challenge your different muscle groups. Outdoor group exercise classes are a great way of pushing yourself and working muscles that might be otherwise neglected, and working out in a group environment will give you added motivation that you might lack in the rest of your training regime.
Be mindful of injuries
When you’re preparing for an event, you will often be doing hours of training and moving your muscles in the same pattern over and over again. It is in these conditions that injuries can become rife.
Sedentary lifestyles and sitting at a desk doesn’t help, and over time certain muscles can become sleepy, meaning that our other muscles start to overwork to pick up the slack. This can result in injury when you start to train for an event. Find a good physio or sports masseuse and check in with them from time to time, and don’t train through the creaks, pains and aches you experience – they could be a sign of a more serious injury.
Rest and relax
It is vital that you give yourself time for your muscles to recover during training, and the times you are at rest are just as important as the times you are training hard. It sounds obvious but ensuring you get a good sleep every night during training will help with your endurance on the day. Sleep deprivation can put your body under quite a lot of unnecessary stress, and a stressed body cannot perform as well, so try to get a solid eight hours of sleep a night. This is easier said than done, what with the lure of TV and social media, but getting into a good routine before bedtime and switching off your devices at least half an hour before you plan to go to sleep will help.
To find out more about British Military Fitness, please visit the website.