Misleading title, you say? The statement is too good to be true? You read correctly, folks! There are a variety of different ways to make you a better endurance athlete, whether recreational, semi-pro, or professional. I suppose the title is misleading in the sense that this article is for anyone in the endurance sport world, not just runners.
Explain yourself! Well, I will, don’t be so hasty! As we get older our bone mineral density (BMD) begins to wear down, right? Right! Women, generally, suffer more from decreased BMD as we age than men, but that’s not to say men don’t suffer BMD loss too! No one wants to deal with osteopenia or osteoporosis, so how do we combat this fact of life? There are two very easy answers here; high-impact sports and/or resistance training!
If I have lost your attention, please grant me the opportunity to win you back over. The idea of participating in a high impact sports to those over the age of 30 may sound ridiculous (but I hope not!). Resistance training may be a more viable option for those of us not on a recreational team sport or those of us not enrolled in a martial art.
Before we go any further though, let me list the benefits for participating in high-impact sports/resistance training for endurance athletes:
-Increased bone mineral density
-Increase connective tissue integrity
-Increased joint health
-Increase availability of energy substrates
-Increase testosterone and growth hormone (integral to bone and joint health)
-Decrease likelihood of injury
-Offers an opportunity to get out of a training rut
-You don’t have to train in the cold (during the fall and winter season)!
And that’s just to name a few!!!
Okay, so now that I’ve won you over (you’re welcome) you’re probably wondering how to accomplish all these wonderful advantages on your own. Well if you’re looking for a specific answer, I’m afraid you’re in for a disappointment because I may or may not know you and may or may not know all your information to help you out the most. BUT I can provide you with some solid principles that you can incorporate into your training regimen today!!!
3 Principles to make you a better endurance athlete:
1) Get involved in a high-impact sport, such as soccer, tennis, rugby, martial arts, football, baseball, basketball, gymnastics (because that’s always available for adults, right?)!
Sometimes the best option can be the most fun! High-impact sports provide the bones, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue with stimuli that you cannot be achieved through the repetitive motion that your endurance sport requires. Bones grow and adapt based upon the stress that is placed on them. Having to run, jump, punch through boards, and all the in-betweens is a great opportunity to become a better human. Fun fact, for those of you completely addicted to running and refuse all other forms of training; sprinting is included in this category.
2) Add some resistance training to your routine during the fall/winter season.
I could write a novel here, but I will refrain. Resistance training works off the same principle as described above, bones adapt to the stimulus given to them. Where high-impact sports cover a broad area of stimulus to the body; resistance training can distribute a stimulus very broadly or very specifically. Just to be clear, resistance training doesn’t always mean heavy weights accompanied with the development of big, bulky muscles. A good training program that follows a progressive overload scheme; should have a wide array of rep ranges and varying weights.
3) Eat more good food!
Notice, I did not say, eat super, incredible, complicated, very difficult to follow diet plans. I proclaim moderation, because it works and because there are a whole lot of delicious foods that need our attention….in moderation. The take home message here, choose healthy foods and eat as much as needed to maintain good energy levels. This doesn’t have to be rocket science (although nutrition has it’s own degree and the complexity of it should not be downplayed). Being malnourished decreases your energy availability and can hinder your bodies ability to produce hormones that are integral to bone, muscle, and neural health. So eat well, and eat more!
That’s it! Well, not exactly, but that’s how to be a better endurance athlete, by doing less of your sport! I’ll write another article to better explain why high-impact sports and resistance training make better humans, but we’ve covered enough for now. Check in later for more of that good stuff!
Kirk L. Scofield, M. C. (2012). Bone Health in Endurance Athletes: Runners, Cyclists, and Swimmers. American College of Sports Medicine , 11 (6), 328-334. http://coachmefit.nl/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Bone-Health-in-Endurance-Athletes-Runners-Cyclists-and-Swimmers.pdf
Suominen, H. (1993, Nov 16). Bone mineral density and long term exercise. An overview of cross-sectional athlete studies. Retrieved Nov 16, 2015, from PubMed.gov: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8272687
Tsang-Hua Huang, M.-Y. C. (2011). The Effects of Endurance Running Training on Young Adult Bone: Densitometry vs. Biomaterial Properties . Retrieved Nov 16, 2015, from Intechopen: http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs-wm/22929.pdf