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Training

Stronger And Longer

Looking to improve your cardiovascular fitness and enhance your muscular endurance, whether for an upcoming race or just to challenge yourself? This six-week plan will help you go the distance.

If you’ve ever dreamed of finishing a half or full marathon, testing your mettle in a triathlon, or undertaking any number of other endurance-related competitive events, you need to start with a foundation. The body isn’t naturally built to withstand the arduous, hours-long, stamina-depleting pace and repetitive action of an endurance event, but with time and training, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.

Whether you’re a lifelong bodybuilder looking for a new challenge or an aspiring endurance athlete still deciding what competitive track to take, this expert-designed program can help you lay that foundation you need. Designed by Emily Booth, a veteran of more than 20 endurance events and master instructor and trainer at Life Time Fitness in Westminster, Colo., this program is meant to give you an endurance base to build on so that when you do pick that half marathon, triathlon, or century ride you want to compete in, the training transition will be an easy one.

The Stronger and Longer Program

An important aspect of training for endurance is that it’s all about commitment — so the beginning of the plan eases you into running more and training more. “Since your goal is to build endurance, the first two weeks, that is your focus — not strength training,” Booth explains. “We want to minimize the chance of soreness that might discourage your desire to get out for the next run.”

The subsequent weeks build on the intensity and endurance. You will also notice that there is an added focus on core training and stretching. “The exercises prescribed are designed to reinforce proper movement patterns and structural alignment so that you can avoid injury long term,” Booth says. As an option, if you’re more of a beginner, you can expand all these weeks into two, making it a 12-week program — it’s your choice.

Running/Walking: After a good five- to 10-minute warm-up, run at an easy pace for one minute, then walk briskly for 90 seconds. Repeat the pattern for 20 minutes.

Days 2 and 4 Core Workout: Perform exercises in a circuit. Begin with the first exercise listed and do the prescribed reps/time, then proceed to the next exercise, continuing one after another until you reach the end of the exercises listed. Then repeat the circuit.

Stretch: Here, as in the remainder of the eight weeks when stretching is called for, choose an array of upper- and lower-body stretches, holding each stretch for up to 30 seconds. Booth also recommends trying the foam roller for some stretches, if you’re familiar with that piece of equipment.