Has lockdown got you thinking that it’s time to tick a long distance training event off your bucket list? Whether it’s a marathon, a cycle challenge or an ocean swim, our sports and performance expert Em breaks down what you need to know when preparing for an endurance event.
What is endurance training?
Endurance is defined as the ability to sustain a given velocity or power output over the longest possible time. In other words, it is how long we can continue to exercise at a certain capacity before tiring out. Completing regular endurance training will result in adaptations to the cardiovascular system, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, increasing oxygen transport efficiency within the body while also improving mental health - just to name a few.
Endurance training is also commonly referred to as aerobic training, meaning our body is producing energy with the use of oxygen. This type of training or exercise is anything typically lasting over 2 minutes. This contrasts with shorter, high intensity bursts of exercise for lasting approximately 60 seconds, which is classed as anaerobic training, where our body produces energy without the presence of oxygen. The physiological processes that occur are incredibly complex, however they will ultimately determine a person’s efficiency and capacity within each type of training.
How to build your endurance
Building your endurance will be dependent on the type of exercise you’re trying to build your endurance in. How a runner will build their endurance will look different to a cyclist or team sport athlete. Without looking at sport specifics, heart rate (HR) training is an effective way to build your aerobic capacity. Not only will it give you an intensity to aim for, but it is always a great way to track your progress over time. HR accuracy from wearable technologies is constantly improving, and there are plenty of options available to suit your needs.
Heart rate training is based on training within a certain % of your HR maximum. The easiest way to calculate this is 208 – (0.7 x age) or the most basic 220 - age. Once you have your predicted maximum HR, you can use the heart rate zones below to work out what your target HR should be when completing endurance/aerobic training. Keep in mind that out heart rate is affected by variables such as temperature, stress, hydration, caffeine, sleep, menstrual cycle etc. which can ultimately impact your workout.
Source: Whoop, n.d.
Remember that this is a very individual form of training, therefore the intensity and activity required to reach each zone will look different for everyone. A brisk walk that is a light - moderate level of intensity for some, may be very hard for others. As it stands, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Australia recommend that adults aged 18-64 should be active most days, preferably every day. Each week, adults should do either:
- 5 to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity – such as a brisk walk, golf, mowing the lawn or swimming
- 25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity – such as jogging, aerobics, fast cycling, soccer or netball
- an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activities.
As your endurance capacity increases, a good way to continue to improve your fitness is to use the principle of overload within your training. Overloading means that as your fitness improves, you can gradually increase the time and intensity of your training. For example, if your goal is a 5 km run, start with a 200 m run, 200 m walk, 200 m run etc. until you reach 1 km. Over the weeks, increase your speed within the 200 m runs, then gradually increase the distance to 300 m and overall distance to 2 km. This process takes time, and it is important not to make the increases too large. Keep them achievable but challenging.
Endurance events to try
If you’ve taken a liking to endurance training and looking for an event to test your fitness out in, here are some great endurance events happening around Australia (please check event websites for any COVID-19 restrictions or changes to these events in your area):
QLDNoosa Triathlon and Run, Swim, Run
You can find a list of other QLD endurance events here
NSWCity2Surf or Bathurst Edgell Jog
You can find a list of other NSW running events here
ACTSri Chinmoy 4/10km Fun Run
You can find a list of other ACT running events here
You can find a list of other VIC running events here
SACity Bay Fun Run
You can find a list of other SA running events here
WAPerth Marathon or the Fremantle Running Festival
You can find a list of other WA running events here
NTHot 100 Darwin Santa Fun Run or Alice Springs Running and Walking Club
You can find a list of other NT running events here
TASRun and Walk for Your Heart
You can find a list of other TAS running events here
Another great event which runs in each state is Park run, this is held all around Australia and is suitable for all fitness levels. Each run varies in distance and provide a great family friendly atmosphere. You can check out the Park Run locations here.