CrossFit Endurance and Strength & Conditioning Coach Stretch Rayner is here to address one of the cornerstone principles of marathon training: The Long Run.
Marathon running is a physiological and a psychological challenge for athletes of all abilities. The cornerstone of marathon training is the long slow distance (LSD) running session and volume-based periodisation.
The late Arthur Lydiard's high mileage training protocol produced a number of marathon champions in the 1960’s. Ever since, the sport has been fixated on high mileage training. There is no arguing that LSD volume training can produce results at all levels. It is, however, not the only way to train for an endurance event.
WHAT IS ENDURANCE?
There are two fundamentally different kinds of endurance - muscular and cardiovascular:
1. Muscular endurance is the ability of the muscle to contract over and over during exercise and to recruit the maximum number of motor units and muscle fibres to perform a chosen exercise/sport as efficiently as possible. For example, while running/cycling/swimming the body typically recruit a small number of motor units and muscle fibres to support body weight. However, while performing heavy squats - two times body weight for example - the body needs to recruit a larger number of motor units and muscle fibres to lift the load. The more active motor unit and muscle fibres the easier it becomes to move an object.
2. Cardiovascular (CV) endurance is the ability of the heart, lungs, and circulatory system to deliver oxygen to the muscles to fuel further exercise and to carry away waste products (such as lactic acid)
While these aspects of endurance are distinct, they are also strongly connected. What good is having a well-developed CV capacity if the muscles you are fuelling can’t keep up the demand of the pace (fast rate repetitive contractions)? How well can you perform if your muscles have tremendous endurance ability but your CV system can’t maintain the oxygen demand? Training for strength and endurance at the same time is a delicate balance, but doing it properly will improve athletic performance.
So, the long runs work, but what are the other options?
Increasing aerobic training will not increase muscle endurance. In fact it has the opposite effect as it has the potential to destroy muscle tissue. More and more endurance athletes are eschewing traditional LSD-based training in favour of lower volume, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and strength-based training. CrossFit Endurance (CFE) is a training protocol that combines HIIT sport specific training with HIIT strength and conditioning circuits to deliver the fitness required to compete in endurance events. The zone5endurance website references many of the latest studies to support the CFE style of training.
A typical weekly CFE marathon-training programme includes:
The total volume of training can range between 10 -15 hours of training per week, and the overall intensity of session is high to maximise quality over quantity. The CFE training protocol improves:
With CrossFit opt for an “intensity approach” that favours training for speed and strength over marathon-like repetition. CrossFit Endurance is not about doing long circuit workouts, your aerobic training comes from you sport specific work, CrossFit is used to strengthen and balance the endurance athletes body.
What are the best exercises for endurance athletes? Come and visit CrossFit Hackney and find out.