Tag Archives: marathon

Strength vs. Endurance

strength

What is the difference between strength and endurance?  Simply put strength is the ability to generate force in the presence of resistance (moving something heavy) and endurance is the ability to perform prolonged, less forceful, contractions over time.  Type 1 slow twitch muscle fibers are associated with endurance and type 2 fast twitch muscular fibers are associated with strength.  We have the power to influence the abundance of each fiber, and this is depends on the type of exercise we perform.

Examples of strengthening exercises are performing heavy bench press, back squats, or dead lifts for 5-8 repetitions.  Examples of endurance exercise include running, swimming, jogging, or performing any exercise (bench, squats, dead lifts) with a high frequency (10 or more repetitions).

As with anything else, it’s important to realize that the power to change your muscle composition is yours!  Yay!  That’s empowering isn’t it?!  So first off, why do we need each type of fiber, and what fiber is the most important?

Endurance enables us to tolerate life’s activities such as caring for kids, walking to and from parking lots, and standing all day.  Endurance training also improves our cardiovascular health and endurance.  Muscle strength, on the other hand, enables us to lift and move objects.  Here’s the problem:  Many people focus only on endurance type training such as treadmill, biking, swimming, running, elliptical or light, high repetitive strength work, which is actually endurance training since the contraction becomes prolonged over time as oppose to quick and forceful for low repetitions as in strength building.

Here’s the kicker:  Endurance training does not significantly increase strength; however, strength training can significantly improve endurance.  For example–If you want to run a 5K or a marathon continuous running will improve your ability to run but it will not improve your ability to lift and move heavy objects.  I have evaluated many endurance athletes that exhibit strength deficits.  They are typically shocked at this revelation because they exercise every day.  When I question the type of exercise it is endurance training or light, repetitive strength training. This type of exercise does not correlate to strength improvements.  With prolonged endurance training type 2 fibers will convert to type 1.  Conversely, prolonged strength training will convert muscle fibers to type 2.

There are two categories of type 2 fibers.  One related to producing a quick force, and one relating to repeating the reproduction of that force over time (endurance).  With prolonged strength training, muscle fibers are converted to type 2 but because of the two categories of type 2 fibers (one for strength and one for endurance) the end result is improvements of strength as well as endurance.  This is why strength training correlates to the ability to perform endurance activities more efficiently.

Strength training also multiplies the capillary presence within the muscle promoting vascularization.  With improved vascularization oxygen and nutrients are better transported to and utilized by the muscle.

Muscle pumping action also improves hormonal release and utilization, which can have profound effects on chronic illness such as diabetes and chronic pain syndromes.  Strength building also works to prevent chronic overuse syndromes through muscular balance across multiple axis, reduces chronic pain via hormonal release, and improve vascularization and oxygenation.

Of course you will never run a 5K if you don’t practice running but the take home message is that strength training is essential to meet any type of aerobic, endurance, wellness, or fitness goal.

Life is all about balance, and both strength and endurance training have profound health benefits.  The additional caveat is flexibility.  Flexibility plays a key role in health as well.  The total package would be defined as strength, endurance, AND flexibility.  With this, please know that a weekly practice (even if just one day a week) focused at flexibility is also essential.

We are multi-dimensional beings requiring a multi-dimensional approach to health, wellness, and physical performance.

Advertisements

On The Radio! The Earth Diet

Wednesday evenings on the way home from work I often tune in to The Earth Diet radio show on Hay House radio.  I don’t have the book yet, but basically, Liana (the author and host) encourages a clean, vegan diet to revitalize, recharge, and restore health.  The goal is to thrive in the body you’ve been given.  She offers several healthy, whole, alternatives to kick cravings in the butt.  Her personal struggle and dietary transformation fuel the questions and discussion.

Finally, I did it.  I hit the “call in now” button…I actually did it, and I actually got through!  I couldn’t believe it!  People who know me can attest to my stage fright, so my heart was racing and clogging my throat.  The feeling of being in the presence of a pop star filled my stomach.  I had a simple question:  How can I eat clean, and in enough quantity to fuel my long marathon training runs and my heavy Crossfit workouts?

I love the feeling after a nice, dietary cleanse.  Eating healthy is so revitalizing…but then I’ve got to get back to the gym.  Exercise is my passion.  It’s my anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, my hobby, and my energetic release.  It’s created physical strength in my workday and motherly activities and cultivated discipline and respect.  I love it–BUT–a vegan diet doesn’t seem to cut it in the fuel department.  I know vegan athletes exist so I must be missing something!  After a few days of clean eating I feel as if I am running with cement shoes, my stomach is growling in the middle of a run, and I can’t lift a heavy barbell to save my life.

Liana Werner-Gray, author of The Earth Diet book, came to the rescue and gave me some wonderful tips.

  1.  Chia seed cereal (recipe below)–double the serving size it and take it to go.  I’ve been eating chia seed cereal, which has helped energetically in the beginning of the workout but it digests quickly, leaving me hungry by mile 7…simple fix…double the recipe AND take some to go for longer workouts.
  2. Nutiva protein powder–this is plant based as opposed to grain based, which may settle and fill the stomach and ease digestion.
  3. Fresh vegetable juice–vegetable juice power packs your system with nutrients so the cells aren’t bogged down, sluggishly looking for a fuel source.
  4. Hemp seeds–recent studies show hemp seeds may have more protein than meat!  How exciting!  Eat spoonfuls post workout or put them on just about anything for a nice, nutty flavor.  Three tablespoons has 10g of protein!
  5. Quinoa–this is a nice, clean, digestible fuel source, maybe the night or afternoon before a long run.  (My Paleo brain made me forget about this great source of plant-based protein)
  6. Brown rice pasta–also an easy to digest, clean fuel source the night before or afternoon after endurance training.  (Again, paleo brain made me forget this as a source during marathon training)
  7. Tiger nuts–I’m in love already.  They are so filling and delicious but take quite a bit of chewing to get down.  She suggested soaking them in water or placing them on top of the chia seed cereal to aide in availability during or after a long workout.
  8. Eat clean meat only–organic, grass-fed, free range is the key.  If the animals are stressed and eating crap, you will be stressed and eating crap.
  9. Vitacost!  Vitacost.com is a great website with discounted prices on clean food items.  Many of the prices I have found are cheaper and cleaner than Amazon, Sprouts, Central Market, and Trader Joe’s.  Liana told me to use coupon code earthdiet to get 10% off!

Chia Seed Cereal:  I put two tablespoons of Chia seeds into a bowl and put in about 1/2 cup to 1 cup almond milk.  I soak them overnight and add cinnamon and honey in the morning, mix up, and eat.  The thickness can be adjusted by changing the seed/milk ratio to your liking.  I make home made, chocolate almond milk to jazz mine up.

Almond Milk:  1 cup almonds soaked overnight in water.  Pour almonds into high speed blender with 4 cups water.  Add 1-2 dates (or none), a bunch of raw honey, sea salt, cocao powder (or none), vanilla extract, and nutmeg.  Mix on highest setting for 2 minutes.  Pour through nut bag or cheese cloth and enjoy!