Why Short Workouts Can Help You Build Endurance

Athletes training for endurance events such as half marathons, marathons and triathlons often spend a considerable amount of time on their feet pounding out the miles. On average, a training session may last anything from one to three hours. However, research has shown that shorter workouts can provide additional benefits to increase endurance. In this article, we talk about the benefits and different types of short workouts and where you can find them in Indy.

Benefits of Short Workouts

Ideally, endurance sports training is to maximize fatigue resistance, improve overall aerobic and anaerobic conditioning as well as strength and speed. In addition, you want to change the way your body utilizes or replaces the premium endurance fuel, glycogen.

When you fatigue, your movement patterns become less efficient and form often tends to go "out of the window." Short workouts REALLY can count. As you repeat movements in shorter bursts you become more efficient at them.  Short, good form training sessions can help train your body for those endurance events.  A mix of the following is ideal:

  • High volume training (i.e. the long session over an extended period time)
  • Shorter low intensity sessions (i.e. up to 20 minutes of gentle training)
  • Shorter high intensity sessions (i.e. up to 20 minutes of all out or interval training)
  • Cross training (i.e. strength training, trail running, CrossFit, Parkour/Free-running) 

Short burst workouts increase endurance by adding to your glycogen turnover. Weekly training volume is often a great predictor of endurance performance rather than the distance of the long training run. In other words, you could benefit from running your 50 miles a week in more frequent shorter distance runs than increasing your maximum distance and running less miles per week.  The theory behind why this improves endurance is by the repeated depletion of muscle glycogen stores in training. A heavy week of training will result in more total muscle glycogen depletion and more endurance. So, a 20-minute workout is a great way to add glycogen-depleting volume to your training week.

The types of short cross training for runners and triathletes etc. becoming extremely broad, adding CrossFit or Parkour (a.k.a free running) into your weekly training can significantly boosts your endurance.

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Indianapolis Running Examiner Davina Lewis is a scientist and personal trainer with a long history of running.

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