Don't Risk Injury when Training for Endurance
There are countless studies that show doing short intense circuit style workouts using full-body functional exercises is far more effective than doing long duration cardiovascular activity. What can you do to keep the injuries and burnout at bay?
There is something challenging about doing endurance activities that many people are attracted to. You, perhaps, start doing cardiovascular activity as an easy way to try and lose weight, but it quickly becomes more than that. It is also easier to keep going if you have a goal to achieve. It is also easier to continue doing long duration cardiovascular activity if you have a bigger goal such as trying to run a marathon or maybe entering into your first triathlon.
When you are working hard to try and accomplish a challenging goal, it is a great feeling when you reach your goal that initially seemed untouchable…the feeling of pure joy and ecstasy is something difficult to completely put into words. This is when you are likely to do it over and over again.
Training hard, sometimes more than one training session a day. Good times…but it can also be the worst of times when it comes to body and health. You may be in the best competitive shape but very likely not in the best of health. Despite planning your endurance training schedule, adjusting your diet and taking adequate rest to allow recovery you can get carried away and amongst many things you can feel low in both mood and energy levels, get colds more quickly and become injured more easily. These are warning messages from your body, so what would you do? Most likely I suggest you rest a little more, eat and drink well to aid recovery, perhaps use some supplementation, adjust your training schedule accordingly, boost blood circulation in the body and perhaps try to address any muscle imbalances to limit the risk to injury.
Not sure how to go about it all?
Perhaps try to change your endurance schedule and address most issues as outlined below:
1) Adjust your endurance training and reduce initially intensity and volume. Keep your heart rate about 20% lower than you would normally do. This may be much more difficult to do then it sounds…especially if you’re used to training hard.
2) Include 1-2 sessions of strength training per week and incorporate balancing aids such as swiss ball, medicine ball, bosu, suspension training equipment such as the TRX to sustain or (improve) strength levels and keep your injuries at bay. Keep in mind that many of the injuries come form sheer repetitive pounding of the joints and muscular imbalance. Although you can’t do much about the repetitive stress on your joints…you can certainly take care of the muscular imbalance by strengthening the right muscles. The most common muscles that need strengthening are your posterior chain muscles: glutes, hamstrings, low back. The hip flexors usually become shorter and tighter which needs addressing merely by stretching.
3) Include 2-3 short and intense interval cardio sessions separate from your long endurance training days. These sessions should be less the 20 minutes and intense depending on your form and ability but please be sensible. Change up the intervals and rest periods as it pertains to your activity. For example, perform 30 seconds of cardio @ 90% max intensity level followed immediately by 15 seconds of cardio @ 30% max intensity - repeat 4 sets. Take a minute break after finishing the 4 sets and repeat the entire set 4 times.
4) Complete one hard, longer duration session once a week, where you would train at race pace (if you race) or at the fastest pace that you can sustain for the duration of your training session. Ensure you feel good and rested before doing this session. You may want to skip it if you’re too tired or haven’t recovered enough. Allow the next day to be a rest day or only do light activity to keep good blood circulation to boost circulation and recovery.
5) Invest in your body and spend at least 20 minutes a day doing necessary active muscle recovery and joint mobility work to keep your body mobile. Keep in mind that repetitive strain on your joints will cause inflammation of your ligaments and gradually decrease your range of motion in time if you don’t maintain your joint health.
6) Your diet should be conducive to this type of training. It should be high in anti-inflammatory foods such as omega 3 fatty acids as well as quality protein and low glycemic index carbohydrates. Include plenty of (dark) green vegetables and fruits like bananas. For those of your who need to boost recovery to regain energy, I would recommend taking SiS REGO.
If you have been suffering from classic effects of overtraining like nagging joint pain, lower immunity, low energy, restless sleep, mood swings etc…give the above a try.
Please let me know if you require any further information or guidance.
All the best and stay fit!
Roel Jansen (RJ)