What is the objective of endurance training?
The objective of endurance training is to develop the energy production systems to meet the demands of the event.
What are the energy production systems?
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a chemical compound that supplies energy for muscular contraction. Actively contracting muscles obtain ATP from glucose stored in the bloodstream and the breakdown of glycogen stored in the muscles. Exercising for long periods of time will require the complete oxidation of carbohydrates or free fatty acids in the mitochondria.
What types of endurance are there?
The types of endurance are aerobic endurance, anaerobic endurance, speed endurance and strength endurance. A sound basis of aerobic endurance is fundamental for all events.
Work conducted by Gastin (2001) provides estimates of anaerobic and aerobic energy contribution during selected periods of maximal exercise (95% effort).
During aerobic (with oxygen) work, the body is working at a level that the demands for oxygen and fuel can be met by the body's intake. The only waste products formed are carbon dioxide and water which are removed by sweating and breathing.
Aerobic endurance can be sub-divided as follows:
Aerobic endurance is developed using continuous and interval running.
The aerobic threshold, the point at which anaerobic energy pathways start to operate, is around 65% of maximum heart rate. This is approximately 40 beats lower than the anaerobic threshold. The aerobic thresholds of untrained males range from 35 to 65% VO2 max.
During anaerobic (without oxygen) work, involving maximum effort, the body is working so hard that the demands for oxygen and fuel exceed the rate of supply and the muscles have to rely on the stored reserves of fuel. The muscles, being starved of oxygen, take the body into a state known as oxygen debt and lactic starts to accumulate in the muscles. This point is known as the lactic threshold or anaerobic threshold or the onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA). Activity will not be resumed until the lactic acid is removed and the oxygen debt repaid.
The body can resume limited activity after a small proportion of the oxygen debt has been repaid. Since lactic acid is produced, the correct term for this pathway is lactic anaerobic energy pathway.
The alactic anaerobic pathway is when the body is working anaerobically but without the production of lactic acid. This pathway depends on the fuel stored in the muscle which lasts for approximately 4 seconds at maximum effort.
Anaerobic endurance can be sub-divided as follows:
Anaerobic endurance can be developed by using repetition methods of high-intensity work with limited recovery.
Aerobic endurance training results in reduced body fat, increased maximal oxygen uptake, increased respiratory capacity, lower blood lactate concentrations, increased mitochondrial and capillary densities and improved enzyme activity.
The anaerobic threshold, the point at which lactic acid starts to accumulate in the muscles, is considered to be somewhere between 80% and 90% of your maximum heart rate and is approximately 40 beats higher than the aerobic threshold. Your anaerobic threshold can be determined with anaerobic threshold testing.
Speed endurance is used to develop the coordination of muscle contraction. Repetition methods are used with a high number of sets, a low number of repetitions per set and intensity greater than 85% with distances covered from 60% to 120% of the racing distance. Competition and time trials can be used in the development of speed endurance.
The following are the different types of speed endurance sessions with examples for an 800m athlete targeting a sub-two minute 800m.
Strength endurance is used to develop the athlete's capacity to maintain the quality of their muscles' contractile force. All athletes need to develop a basic level of strength endurance. Examples of activities to develop strength endurance are - circuit training, weight training, hill running, harness running, Fartlek etc.
Effect on the heart
As an endurance athlete, you will develop an athlete's heart which is very different to the non-athlete's heart. You will have:
The above for the average person (non-athlete) indicate a probable heart block, hypertension, heart failure, a recent myocardial infarct or cardiomyopathy. Should you need to go into hospital or see your doctor, you should inform them that you are an endurance athlete.
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