Improved endurance training and racing, in my experience, comes from becoming a better fat burner. Teaching your body to become better at burning fat is a two-parter.
One part is having the patience and focus on the LONG game, meaning slowing down in order to become more efficient at faster speeds. Honestly a lot of people do not have the patience to slow down and reassess. Many pro athletes change their techniques and for a period of time, they are not as fast or skillfull at their craft. However after a period of adaptation their skills increase to a level higher than before. Patience and the ability to take a bird’s eye view of the long game can be another blog post on its own.
Aerobic sessions should follow the MAF heart rate formula of 180 minus your age. I recommend monitoring your heart rate while training. Monthly MAF testing can be helpful to monitor progress. After a proper aerobic base is achieved, speed endurance can be brought in for your peak build. Check out Dr Phil Maffetone’s site for more information here.
The second part is limiting ingested carbohydrates and, in turn, reducing insulin. Only when insulin is low, can fat stores be opened up and burned as fuel. There is so much exciting emerging science on this and this is an over simplification of course, but it is important to understand that as long as insulin is high, the body will never unlock fat cells for use as energy.
First steps include starting to train fasted and taking no external fueling during those long, slow, fat burning aerobic sessions. Water and electrolytes will be essential. This is building the metabolic machinery to become efficient at using both fuel sources: fat and glucose. The body sees constant blood sugar spikes (high carbohydrate diet) as stressful.
Those are the basic ideas and I will explore this in more depth in another post. Happy training 🙂