Looking for your next challenge? Stretch your limits with endurance training. It will take you to a whole new level of fitness, physically and mentally.

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Looking for your next challenge? Stretch your limits with endurance training. It will take you to a whole new level of fitness, physically and mentally.

You’re the queen of the treadmill and you’re crushing every HIIT class like a pro. Now what?

Simply put, having cardio strength is different from building endurance. Just because you’re regularly clocking in the miles doesn’t mean you have the capability to exert yourself over an extended period of time. Think marathons, ultramarathons, triathlons and obstacle course races.

“During a prolonged physical effort like running a marathon, muscular fatigue is one of the reasons for efficiency loss. The runner will lose stride power, which leads to a reduced pace,” shares Ivan Figueroa, a group instructor from Pure Fitness. 

“Strength training improves the ability to sustain tension for longer. In turn, the runner will be able to extend the training time before reaching fatigue.”

While endurance training may sound daunting, know that there’s no barrier too tough to overcome, with professional help around.

“How do I train at high altitude when there’s only Bukit Timah Hill?” 

164 metres – the height of Bukit Timah Hill – isn’t exactly an ideal setting for ultramarathon participants, who have to take into account acclimatising for altitude.

TRY THIS Virgin Active’s altitude studio in Tanjong Pagar gets around that tricky issue. Their 30-minute altitude training class takes you through various stations like Assault bike, water rower, Jacobs ladder and weighted bear crawls, as the room’s pressure gradually increases to simulate being 3,000m above sea level. This trains the body to utilise oxygen better (read: you will get winded faster), improving both respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Besides ramping up fat burn, the class also challenges your mental strength – a key component of endurance performance. Visit www.virginactive.com.sg for more information.

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“I’m time-strapped as it is. What’s a fast way to train for endurance?” 

If you can only spare an hour or so a day, it is still possible to enhance your endurance. The key is to pick a workout that challenges your overall cardiovascular system.

TRY THIS Pure Fitness’ Small Group Training Athletic Endurance class focuses on circuit training (using cardio-based machines like treadmills, rowers and Assault bikes, on top of some weighted exercises) at a constant pace that pushes you to fatigue. “Over time, this type of training increases both muscular and cardiovascular endurance, allowing you to work faster for longer and boosting your athletic performance,” says group instructor Ivan. Visit www.pure-fitness.com/singapore for more information.

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“How do I pace myself over a long period of time?”

It’s a fair question, and a serious one to consider before embarking on any form of endurance sport. While using a heart rate monitor is a start, delving deeper to ascertain your levels of fuel and oxygen efficiency, as well as your ability to clear lactic acid, gives much more insights into your actual fitness level. 

TRY THIS “The lactate test – that measures the accumulation of lactate at increasing intensities to determine your threshold – is the primary test I’d recommend for any endurance athlete who is getting started as it allows us to accurately determine heart rate training zones,” says Ben Pulham, founder of Coached, which runs heart rate training programmes for running and triathlons. “With follow-up testing, we can accurately track progression and see how you are responding to your training. Over time, you’ll learn self-control – one of the most important characteristics for athletes – and will see your pace improving at the same heart rate, which is a sign of improved fitness.” Visit www.coached.fitness for more information.

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“It’s lonely training for an endurance sport.”

Consider joining training groups for like-minded company and extra motivation. Not only does it make the experience a more communal and friendly affair, but it’ll also give you the competitive edge and skills you need if you’re looking to take part in a triathlon or Ironman.

TRY THIS Multisports event organiser Metasport runs regular swim/bike/run sessions at various locations in Singapore. Typically, it takes eight to 12 weeks to prepare for an Olympic Distance triathlon, depending on your fitness level. “That gives the right amount of time to work on fitness, technique and speed,” says Donna McWilliams, coaching services manager of Metasport. Coaching sessions are split into three groups based on ability and fitness. Newbies are recommended to attend the Monday night swimming sessions, where there’s a special lane for technique correction. For runners, the Tuesday night sessions focus on building speed rather than distance, while Saturday sessions are great for beginner cyclists as they can build strength through short hill and speed drills. To hone your ocean swimming techniques, check out the open water clinics. Visit www.metasport.com for more information.

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“I can’t get the hang of monkey bars.”

You are not alone. Few adults can swing like they did as a child on the monkey bars. What seems like a breeze for six-year-olds is incredibly challenging for grown-ups, thanks to the additional body weight and required forearm, deltoid, latisimus dors and oblique muscles, which are likely to be woefully underworked – unless you’ve trained them devotedly.

TRY THIS UFit runs obstacle training sessions ahead of races like the upcoming Spartan Race in October. These high-intensity, fast-paced workouts are designed to improve aerobic capacity and tax your whole body, as you are put through a range of exercises – from building grip strength to pushing power and honing your lifting prowress – to tackle the course obstacles. The exercises mesh different training systems such as Ladders, Hurricanes, AMRAPs (as many reps as possible), EMOM (every minute on the minute) and Tabata so you literally get a better hang of things, and ensure that you have the strength and endurance to complete the different race obstacles. Visit www.utbootcamps.com.sg/obstacle-race-training for more information.