Specificity is KING for Endurance

Your ability to sustain is your ticket to success and is the substance behind my second principle of training. You must adapt, endure and then you can conquer.

Specificity develops the physiological capacities, technical skills and fortitude in the exact muscles, energy systems and movements needed to excel in your chosen endurance activity. It puts focus into every training session for everyday athletes.

The SAID principle is commonly used by coaches in all sports and it stands for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands.

It is a key training principle for endurance that states your body will adapt specifically to the type of training you do and the amount of training stress you endure.

Some of the key points regarding the SAID principle:
It targets the specific energy systems and muscles needed for your sport/activity. Endurance activities like running, cycling, swimming etc. rely heavily on aerobic energy systems and slow twitch muscle fibers. Training plans tailored to these systems and muscles will optimize endurance capabilities.

It matches the specific movements and mechanics. The motions and techniques of running are different from swimming or cycling. Sport-specific drills and training adapts the body to handle those unique demands efficiently.

It allows for proper recovery and adaptation. Endurance training causes microscopic tears and fatigue in muscles and energy systems. Sport-specific training doses the right amount of stress so you can recover and bounce back stronger in time for your next training session or event.

It prepares you for the specific rigors and conditions. Training should mimic the motions, duration, terrain and conditions of your goal event as closely as possible. This sport-specific overload principle boosts specific fitness and skills.

The SAID principle highlights the need for specificity in training and endurance athletes need to focus their training on taxing the aerobic system.

However, if you just repeat the same session over and over again your body will soon adapt to that training stress and your progress will plateau as there is no demand there any more. Similarly just doing generic exercise won’t necessarily improve endurance, not to any great degree anyway. It certainly won’t yield the results you are truly capable of.

This means you have to do a variety of different training sessions that specifically target different outcomes if you want to be able to race faster for longer.

Here is a 4-session running plan that provides different stimuli for endurance athletes:
Long Slow Distance (LSD) Run: A long run at an easy, conversational pace. This builds aerobic endurance and teaches the body to burn fat as fuel. Aim for 60-90 mins.
Tempo Run: Run at lactate threshold pace, which is slightly faster than marathon pace. This improves speed and efficiency at higher intensities. Aim for 20-40 mins.
Interval Training: Short, fast intervals (e.g. 800m-1200m) with rest periods in between. This builds speed and anaerobic capacity. Aim for 6-10 x 800m with 2 min rest.
Hill Repeats: Short, fast hill repeats targeting max effort. Builds leg strength and power. Aim for 6-10 x 30 sec uphill sprints with jog back recovery.

The long run provides an endurance base, while the faster sessions develop speed and efficiency. The intervals add anaerobic and leg power.

Combining these different stimuli allows runners to become stronger and faster overall.

Rest and recovery around the hard sessions is also key.

About Liza Smith

Liza: The Endurance Expert – Unlock Your Peak Athletic Potential!

Dedicated to endurance, particularly in extreme events like Ironman, OCR and Ultras, Liza stands out not just as a coach but as an emblem of determination and tenacity.

With a reputation for moulding winners and transforming raw potential into prowess, Liza is the top pick for those aspiring to reign supreme in their sport.

Liza’s coaching philosophy centres on the power of the mind. Her five pillars – Control the Controllable, Find the Positive, Focus on You, 100% Effort, and Extreme Ownership – guide athletes to both mental and physical excellence.

Whether you're just starting out or vying for the gold, Liza ensures your hard work delivers results. Train with Liza and unleash the ultimate athlete within you.