Sean Conway: 6 Essential Endurance Training Tips
Adventurer Sean Conway has swum the length of Britain, completed the world’s longest triathlon and holds the speed record for cycling across Europe – so he knows a thing or two about endurance training and racing. His tips will have you in tip-top form before your next challenge.
1. Preparation is key
Successful endurance training is all in the planning, and mileage makes champions. There are no shortcuts for endurance like there are in HIIT (high-intensity interval training) or cardio – you’ve got to get out and do the miles. Don’t overthink it – if you put in the distance in preparation, you’ll succeed on the day.
2. Food, Glorious Food
Eat, eat, eat and eat… and more importantly, eat before you’re hungry. If you’re feeling hungry in an endurance situation, it’s already too late. Remember the key three categories for good nutrition: energy, recovery and health. Get a good balanced diet and follow a nutrition plan that incorporates all three.
3. Stay Hydrated
When you’re pushing hard on long days you can need up to one litre of water per hour to keep hydrated. You’ll also need to take in more salt than usual, to help your body absorb it. So it’s simple: drink a lot and take in more salt. Energy gels and drinks are good, and I also like snacking on salty crisps.
4. Get Enough Sleep
The wrong amount of sleep can make you lose focus and energy during a multi-day race. Too little and you don’t recover fast enough, too much and you can’t catch up with people. If you’re not doing a multi-day race, make sure you sleep as much as possible - it’s in recovery that you get stronger.
5. Manage Your Muscles
Keep on top of muscle management throughout your training regime. Stretch, warm up properly (but not too much, to avoid taking away the elasticity in your muscles) and warm down after a workout. Self-massage and ice baths will also help with keeping your muscles in tip-top shape.
6. Find Your Motivation
I think this is the most important factor of all when it comes to endurance. Keeping motivated is hard, but often if you’re feeling fit then your motivation will be high anyway. Experiment to see what helps you keep going - I find that raising money for charity is really effective for keeping me from quitting when I hit a wall.
Photo: Martin Bissig