Top Tips for Endurance Training by Zac van Heerden

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Endurance events have gained immense popularity in recent years. The trend has been a move towards longer, more extreme events making preparation vital for those seeking not only improved health but also the thrill of adventure and competition. Zac Van Heerden, one of the leading physiologists and conditioning specialists in South Africa and a panellist at the 2016 Powerade Performance Academies, has amassed a wealth of knowledge on the key “do’s and don’ts” when it comes to endurance training.

Taking place across the country, the Powerade Performance Academies aim to upskill local school-based sports coaches by exposing them to invaluable insights into cutting edge coaching techniques from some of the world’s leading sports coaches including, Gary Kirsten, Paddy Upton and Fabian Gregory.

At the Powerade Performance Academy in Johannesburg, which took place recenty, van Heerden shared some great insights on how to improve performance and prevent unnecessary injury when tackling high endurance events:

1. Training methods
Not everyone is a “super-athlete” who has the physical ability and mental constitution to train and compete for extended periods of time. Your body will push you through up to a point but at some stage it will begin to fail.
Ensure that you have picked a realistic event in which you can actually complete and prepare for it adequately – consider your available time, training environment and resources to do this. Ensure that you are on a realistic training plan congruent with your level of ability and previous accomplishments – don’t blindly follow a quick fix training plan. Make sure it is a plan that suits your physique, metabolism and physical ability.

Don’t force it – reduce training when you are fatigued, ill or stressed. You will get nothing from training in less than ideal shape.

2. Rest and recovery
As much as training and building of performance capacity is important, this cannot happen while the body is fatigued and under stress – allow sufficient time for the body to recover from training, to regenerate and rebuild, so that you adapt and improve.

3. Race preparation
Race-day success begins well before the starter’s gun – develop a realistic, practical and progressive race calendar to prepare you for your primary objective. Start small, and build up over an extended period of time toward the race distance.

Regular racing is also important so that you learn to deal with environmental conditions, spectators and other competitors as well as the logistics of racing (equipment and supplies). Races are also convenient to help you get in some long sessions – the safety factor and regular water-stops are useful for “training” events that you cannot provide on your own. Testing out your nutrition, hydration and pacing strategies in realistic conditions is also key for your ultimate success.

Over the years, Powerade has sustained its commitment to young South African sportsmen by providing them with the necessary platforms to achieve their ultimate sporting goals. In line with this commitment, Powerade has aimed much of its focus on school coaches in recognition of their role as key influencers of the next generation of South Africa’s sporting heroes.

For more info on the Powerade Performance Academy please contact Amy Wentzel: amy@klprsa.com

Disclaimer: “You must not rely on the information in the report as an alternative to medical advice from an appropriately qualified professional. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult an appropriately qualified professional.”