I’ve recently increased the amount of endurance exercise I’m doing.
The weather is good at the moment, I’ve recently bought a bike and enjoy running so getting out into the sun and building some endurance seems like a fine idea. It also fits nicely with one of my reasons Dads should train – to keep up with your kids.
You can’t keep up if you have no gas in the tank.
I’ve also been inspired by the great series of posts Andrew Read about his training for an Ironman event. He is a strong dude and plans to stay that way, but also wants to become an endurance beast.
I have no intention of taking it quite to the extremes Andrew is, but it’s interesting to see someone train two opposites of the physical spectrum at the same time. It shows it can be done.
But I thought cardio was bad
Yeah, me too. Traditional cardio training has had a really bad rap over the last few years. It has been accused of causing heart attacks and generally turning you into a big girlie man.
But does that make sense? Humans are species that have thrived on adaptability. We’ve moved to and settled in all corners of the world. This was done long ago, before cars, and would have involved a hell of a lot of walking, and likely a bit of running – that’s cardio, but more specifically that’s aerobic cardio.
The main message from the early posts in Andrew Read’s series is that the key to successful endurance training is having a solid aerobic base.
It is the aerobic system that is designed to keep us going for long periods of time and it is trained by longer, slower paced sessions – much slower than you think. The reality is when most of us think we are training aerobically we’re not. The pace is too fast and reliant on the anaerobic system.
This system is not designed to maintain activity for long periods of time and doing so puts great strain on your system (hence the heart attacks etc).
For more detail on the difference between aerobic and anaerobic training, and why a well developed aerobic system is a good thing, I recommend reading this post by Sock Doc.
The simplest way to do aerobic training is to strap on a heart rate monitor and keep your heat rate in the aerobic zone (check) using a formula created by Phil Maffetone.
It is pretty simple. Take 180 minus your age and your range is between the number and ten beats below.
For me that’s 180-32=148 so my range is 138-148 – if I keep my heart rate within that zone I am training aerobically.
It involves training at a much slower pace than you might be used to. There is also a slight change in mindset – from managing your pace to managing your state. Instead of constantly trying to run faster for longer periods of time, you maintain a relaxed heart rate and your pace at that HR increases over time.
My limited experience so far has been great. Running and biking often made me feel sluggish and grumpy the next day but not with this style of training.
Training this way a few times a week has had no negative effects on my strength training, I’ve been sleeping like a log and feel great the next day.
My next post will give some more detail on what my training has looked like.