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Improving Endurance

by Doug Carr in Cyclocross, Road Cycling, Train With Grain, Triathlons

Merriam Webster defines endurance as the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; especially : the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity.

Joe Friel, author of The Triathlete’s Training Bible, defines endurance as: The Ability to Resist Fatigue.

In most athletic pursuits, endurance can be the determining factor of who is crowned the winner, and who must settle for second place. Endurance can be developed for an event lasting a matter of seconds, or one that lasts for days. Think of the sprinter versus the eco-racer. One common denominator in improving endurance is the fact that it happens in relatively small chunks, over a lengthy period of time. You can typically improve your endurance in three specific areas. Those are the Cardiovascular and Muscular systems, as well as the psychological system, or what would be considered Mental endurance. The cardio system includes both aerobic and anaerobic pathways.

Cardiovascular and muscular endurance are improved with the same type of overload principles used in resistance training. We’ll overload or stress the systems (go longer than previous sessions), then recover the systems in preparation for the next overload. Each subsequent session builds on the previous, and the systems adapt to increase the amount of time necessary to overload or fatigue. In turn, mental endurance is gained as the previous barriers or limitations are exceeded. One can be said to have Mental Toughness. I don’t consider this the same as Mental Endurance. An individual can be mentally tough, but to have the mental endurance to persevere through the training at longer and longer efforts, and be able to take that endurance out on the course with you, takes an amount of endurance that is only found by pushing through the fatigue.

Improving your endurance through consistent training will be stair-stepped effect, in that each session or “step” will take you that much further toward improvement. It’s a good idea to utilize the services of a qualified coach, someone who can look at your progress objectively, and determine when, where and how much additional stress can be applied to the next workout session. They can also test your endurance and determine when it might be time to back off so as not to risk overtraining. Think of it as a natural addition or infusion to your workouts. Just like gaining overall fitness, it’s a process that takes consistency, applied moderation and perseverance.

Train With Grain!!­

About The Author
Doug Carr Google: Doug Carr
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