By Vee Benard
Are you one of those people who have long wanted to do a marathon but don’t know where to begin? Maybe you’ve worked up to running a few miles each day, but aren’t sure how to take the next step beyond that. According to Joao Montiero, the secret to success may lie not so much in repeatedly running those same miles, but in fact, mixing it up a bit.
Doing that same workout and falling into a steady routine sounds logical, but, in fact, Montiero, one of the fitness trainers at Core Dynamics Health and Fitness Studio in Water Mill, explains that variation in the time and nature of one’s exercise routine is key in adequately preparing for any athletic competition based on endurance sporting activities.
Endurance sports are defined as a subset of general athletics that focus on extended physical exertion over a prolonged distance or period of time. Think triathlons, marathons and the Tour de France. Because of the sheer stress they put on the body, endurance sports tend to require intensive and often specialized training.
“Endurance training should be goal-oriented,” explained Montiero. “This is a more efficient way to do training in less time. It is effective, short and brutal.”
Brutal may not sound like much fun, but it’s likely to bring results. And while Montiero works mainly with serious athletes, he believes his methodology can be applied to all fitness levels. Competitors should first establish goals, which are usually focused on specific sporting events, like an upcoming triathlon. They then create a fitness program through which they gradually work up to the level of fitness they seek to achieve by varying the length of training and shifting focus between muscle groups from day to day.
“If you want to run a 15 mile race, I would say okay, start with five,” he said. “Then tomorrow do 15 to 20 minutes of preparation moves — weights, ellipticals, rollers — then run five more, if you have time. If you are not able to do the mile-to-mile amount you set out to do because you were working on preparation, that’s okay. It all balances out.”
Indeed, instead of pushing intensively every day of training, Montiero believes it is just as effective, if not more so, to do smaller and more diverse modes of training so as not to wear out one’s body.
“You have to break up, subdivide your total goal distance,” he said.
And what about people who have jobs or children that don’t allow them to train for triathlons and who are instead looking to simply shape up a little in their limited free time?
“A lot of people can’t afford to train for three hours a day,” conceded Montiero. “What people don’t understand is the importance of preparation. If you do some bridges, some planks, some rollers, some stretches for 10 minutes, then you are ready to go; and that won’t take away from your routine.”
For the uninitiated, “bridge” is a floor based back bend, “plank” is a stationary push up and a “roller” is a cylindrical piece of foam you lay on to stretch your back.
Montiero adds that alternating quick workouts with increasingly lengthy ones “challenges your body” and prepares it without pushing your muscles and endurance capabilities over the edge.
He suggests weights, treadmills, elliptical machines and resistance bands, among other instruments, to create well-rounded programs. In addition to physical training, Montiero stressed nutrition as a very important component when it comes to preparing the body for competition and endurance. He explained that diet can be used to bolster and sustain bones and muscles during the training process.
“What makes you healthy is what you eat,” said Montiero as he mixed up a protein smoothie containing raw oats, almond milk, fresh berries and protein powder. “I see some people go hours and hours on a bike with just a bottle of water … that’s not good for you. You have to balance your meals with proteins, fats, calories, and carbohydrates, and then adjust according to what goal you are working towards. This is what shapes your physical performance: what you put in your mouth.”