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All you need to know about endurance training this marathon season

If you are sweating it over to step up your fitness game, we have got you covered. Here, doctor and endurance runner Dr Andrew Murray gives expert advice on how to take your workout to the next level.

health and fitness Updated: Nov 21, 2016 14:03 IST
Endurance Training,Marathon,Workout
Think of your environment and plan well in advance when preparing your kit for an endurance challenge, a medical expert recommends.(Istock)

The marathon season has officially begun with the 9th Airtel Delhi Half Marathon that was held in the Capital on Sunday.

If you are sweating it over to step up your fitness game, we have got you covered. Here, doctor and endurance runner Dr Andrew Murray gives expert advice on how to take your workout to the next level.

Why do more than the recommended 30 minutes of exercise a day? Are there any extra health benefits from doing endurance training?

Thirty minutes a day will give you a variety of big health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, dementia, type 2 diabetes and various cancers, as well as an extra seven years of life. Increase that to 60 minutes and you’ll get even more health benefits. Beyond that there is a diminishing return, but each athlete would have different answers as to why they still do more.

The human body functions best when it has a purpose and it’s good to have something to aim towards — and that is not just physical. People who don’t have a purpose tend to stress more and worry more. For some people they do more because of the ridiculous high it gives them and because it’s so enjoyable it is all worthwhile....For me it boils down to that I enjoy it and like the challenge.

For those who do want to move from a regular workout to endurance training and events, how do you recommend they get started?

1. Decide what you want to accomplish.

2. Involve people. Consult an expert, or run with friends.

3. Treat it as a learning experience. Maybe you don’t finish, or the weather interferes with your training plan. But don’t worry if things get in the way.

Also if you’re going from some exercise to a lot of exercise it should be on a gradual basis. For example 5k to 10k, 10k to half marathon.

Endurance training or even just an intense workout regime can take its toll on the body. What advice would you give people for helping the body rest, recover and heal after events and in between workouts?

My main advice is this: sleep like a champion, train like a champion, eat like a champion. I work predominantly with runners but also swimmers and cyclists, and the one thing they all have in common is these people tend to be world class sleepers. More then seven hours a night and you’re less likely to get infections and stay healthy.

With regards to food, if there is no fuel in the tank you’re going nowhere. You need small amounts of carbs every 20 to 30 minutes during your workout and plenty of carbs after finishing. To repair micro tears in the muscles you also need good quality protein.

I recommend a ratio of three portions of carbs to one portion of protein within the hour after your workout, something like pasta or a baked potato with tuna is great, or a chicken sandwich. Eggs and pulses are also good sources of protein.

What do you recommend for preventing injury? Should we warm up and cool down?

There is no one thing to do but again, plenty of sleep is very important. You don’t need to do a specific warm-up, just something to get you moving a little and ready for the sport you are about to do. If it’s golf, take a few swings, if it’s dancing, a few stretches for the muscles you’re about to work.

I do recommend a cool down though, especially when you have done a more vigorous workout. Strength training is also good to build muscle which can reduce the risk of injury.

What would your recommendations be for sportswear when taking part in endurance events?

Think of your environment, for example if you’re going to be in an extreme environment such as the Sahara you need to have confidence in your kit. You don’t want anything to let you down. Also break it in, try it out, and don’t leave it until the day before.

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First Published: Nov 21, 2016 14:02 IST