I was prompted to think about endurance training a couple of nights ago after a conversation with James, who is preparing for the Ragnar Relay and was wondering about training for longer distance running events. Then, this morning an article came across my FB feed called “The Death of Steady State Cardio.” A great read that I’ll summarize in two sentences:
Endurance training, or steady state cardio, in which you run, row, swim, bike, etc. at a moderate pace for an extended (25+ minutes) period of time, will not make you strong, it won’t help you to lose weight, and it won’t improve your health. It will, however, make you better at running, rowing, swimming or biking for a long time at a moderate pace, but not as good as interval training.
Let me relate my own experience. Here is me three months after my second marathon:
Here is a guy in his early thirties. Pretty healthy, not too embarrassed to take his shirt off, but already starting to feel like he’s never gonna see that high school six pack again. I like to think of this as my “Before” picture. Shortly after, I started doing CrossFit and immediately saw how much more effective these high-intensity, constantly varied workouts were. The strength gains were not surprising, since I hadn’t been lifting much prior to CrossFit. But the really surprising improvement was in my running times. I knocked ten minutes off my 10k time after six months of CrossFit. And keep in mind, I never ran more than 800 meters in any workout.
If at times I get a little preachy about avoiding endurance training, it’s because I spent way too many hours on the elliptical with my headphones in while reading a magazine and barely breaking a sweat and then wondering why I wasn’t getting any fitter. Don’t waste your time. Just do what Dion says.