endurance adventuresWhat does the gym mean to you? The very word ‘gym’ seems to instantly divide people into two camps- the regular gym bunnies who can’t live without their several times a week work out and the gym-o-phobes who have a panic attack at the thoughts of setting foot inside a gym (or was that just my sister?)

Ok maybe there’s a third camp… the people who pay upfront for a gym membership, go a few times and then never darken the door again, but are reluctant to actually cancel their membership as they could no longer kid themselves that they will ‘definitely start going again next week’.

So, can going to the gym actually help you in your quest for endurance fitness? Does it have a place alongside the hours of running and walking we have to put in?

 

I think it does.

A gym offers a much more controlled workout. When you run outside you can’t always tell what speed you are running at unless you keep your eyes permanently glued to your Garmin (and if I did that I’d end up in the canal), and you probably won’t know the gradient of that hill you just ran up. Use the treadmill in the gym and you know your exact running speed and can set the treadmill to incline to a certain gradient. I tend to do my long slow runs outside and use the treadmill for maintaining a faster speed over shorter bursts of time, and for running ‘uphill’. This has actually increased my overall running speed.

Other cardio equipment such as elliptical trainers or stationary bikes are great for mixing up a workout. You can change the resistance levels to work the legs harder and they are ideal for interval training. If you are injury prone then using these lower impact machines will let you build up your fitness whilst keeping injury free. If your gym has a pool attached then this is even better as swimming is a great non impact activity.

I love the weights machines too- adding some strength training to your workouts helps build up muscle which will help to support your body as you run- as well building the leg muscles to make short work of those uphills.  Plus you’ll look more toned (or at least I’m hoping so!)

I am aware though that not everyone likes the gym. if you are firmly in the ‘loathe them’ camp and would rather pull out all of your nails with a pair of rusty pliers than actually set foot in one, don’t force yourself to join. Chances are you just won’t go and then you’ll feel bad cos you are wasting money. There’s plenty of other stuff you can do to get endurance fit. The important thing is that you are doing the stuff you enjoy and you’ll want to stick with.

Those of you who do like the gym- I’ll probably see you there sometime (I’ll be the one on the treadmill sweating buckets with a face like a tomato!)

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