What do people take from endurance sports that they might not from regular sport?
Believe it or not they all take very similar things away. A sense of escapism, pushing yourself physically and mentally. Maybe an endurance athlete generates a closer connection to the outdoors and wild environments which is different to a tennis court. Although many endurance athletes compete and train as individuals, there’s a really obvious sense of community which I think is a major pull for many of them too.
If we look back 30 or 40 years, I would argue it was a sense of escaping the norms set out by society which some mainstream sports fit into – so, a sense of breaking away. But I think we’d need to look at individuals more than a collective to discover all the ‘whys’.
What are the big challenges faced by your athletes and also you as their coach?
Wow, ok the simplest one is getting people to slow down and understand rest and recovery. That’s really important. But the last few years has been about managing a group of people who live to push themselves, be it in races or adventures, who have had that taken away [due to Covid restrictions]. So managing this was tough for me. You have a person’s mental health as well as their physical health to look after. It was a crazy time when people needed their escapes more than ever. Maybe they’d lost family members, lost their jobs and so on.
What kind of time do your athletes need to commit to for training? Is it possible to fit in adequate endurance training around a normal schedule?
Depending on the nature of the chosen event or goal, you can be looking between seven to 15 hours a week. Some professional athletes train upwards of 20 hours. But it’s about getting on it as soon as you have a goal. The bigger the gap you have between starting to train and your goal, in theory the fewer hours you’ll need each week.
After around three hours of really focusing on aerobic work, you can get away with a little less volume. If trained properly, your body has a great way of maintaining endurance.