I’ve talked about the importance of strength and why that’s central for overall health and injury prevention. This time, lets talk a bit about endurance. I love endurance and many of you know I come from a heavy endurance background. As a former professional cyclist and special operations soldier I learned how to suffer and that’s really what endurance is all about, learning how to suffer well and silently.
Notice how I didn’t call it “cardio”, I personally hate that term, and it is not one we use in the facility. It brings to mind all those spandex clad people on machines at big chain gyms, reading a magazine. I hate to break it to you, you’re not doing yourself any good by doing that.
Why is endurance the second pillar you ask? At RFT Coaching we train for the outdoors. How good do you think you will be moving over land in various terrain, during an emergency, or in a race if you don’t have a heavy endurance base? We need to train it, if for no other reason than it makes the faster, more intense stuff just a little easier.
We use several methods to train endurance here. We use running, indoor cycling, and ruck marching (backpacking) to build the various levels of endurance needed for outdoor activities. Before you ask, no we do not use rowers, nor do we use ellipticals or Assault bikes. Rowers are out because we live in Utah, how many lakes and oceans are you going to row on to get away from an emergency? I like rowers for those that are injured or if weather is crappy, or if you’re in the military and boats are a part of your job, but they do not make any practical sense otherwise, and we train like we fight. Ellipticals are in the same boat (see what I did there?), I have never seen anyone elliptical their way out of a combat zone or off a mountain. Assault bikes are all the rage right now, but that’s because of another company we previously distanced ourselves from, and it’s a lazy way to get endurance training, it keeps people inside and what’s the point of having a ton of fitness if you’re never going to head outside? Now to be fair, there are those with injuries that these items are the only things that do not hurt them, and for them we say go for it, but for the majority, they serve little to no purpose. Bottom line, train like you fight, and get outside more often.
When we train endurance we separate days into short intervals (2 min or less), medium intervals (3-10 min), long intervals (11-20 min) and LSD (long slow distance). All of these methods serve different purposes, energy system speaking. We tend to start people on LSD and as they get more fit the intervals get shorter and more intense, but always with an eye on the long distance/time aspect. As things get faster and more intense rest time becomes an issue and we control how much rest you get to achieve a specific training stress (don’t worry, we’re very good at getting adaptations out of you).
Endurance is not glamorous. Many people hate it for various reasons, most of them revolve around the fact that they get bored. We use the intervals to break things up, and that does help, but at the end of the day you just need to put your head down and go. Remember training isn’t always about what’s sexy and glamorous, it’s about performance, and for you to perform you need endurance to be a major part of your training regimen.
Aspera Non Spernit