Endurance can mean many things to many different people. It can mean struggling, suffering and persevering. It can mean going the long distance in a race. Or it can mean doing something at your pace with your eye on the end goal. No matter how fast or slow you go, doing the work to get there is important. Are you the tortoise or the hare?
You have to put in the miles
To keep with the running analogy, my coach Lisah once told me the following, “Sandi, if you want to race the race and do it well you have to put in the miles.” Naively I thought I could do a little bit of running during the week and do OK. Oh, and speed and strength work – who needs that when you are just using your legs. So I ran the race and guess what, I got injured time after time, race after race. It took a few years before I really got it. To go the distance you have to put in the work. That’s endurance and yes, I’m a slow learner.
Dictionary definitions of endurance
- The ability to withstand hardship or adversity especially the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity such as a marathon runner’s endurance. https://www.merriam-webster.com
- The act of working very hard without stopping, even in the face of difficult situations or pain. www.yourdictionar.com
My definition of endurance
I personally don’t believe that you have to be in pain and suffer hardship to have endurance. I look at it as being focused on the end goal and working toward your aspiration in a methodical method (that could be slow or fast). Yes, we have to put in the work.
Des Linden in a recent tweet after coming in 4th in the Olympic Trials said,
“Consistency comes when we decide to make “no quit” a habit. Even on our worst days we’re not all that far off our best if we keep pushing through “
Des calls it consistency and I call it endurance, but whatever you call it you keep going and stay focused on what you want to accomplish.
Carlos Santana, in an interview said that when Santana started playing, they were a “jam band” and played without any direction. He said it was Bill Graham who told them they needed songs that told a story. He said you just can’t jam aimlessly and be successful. Are you jamming aimlessly or are you writing your story?
I also view endurance in terms of our body. Muscle strength and physical endurance are interwoven as are the other pillars of aging that consists of strength, stability, flexibility and endurance. Why is this important?
When you have endurance, you increase your ability to do activities necessary for daily living like opening doors, lifting boxes, chopping wood, and gardening without getting tired.
The better and longer you can do these activities without issues, the less risk of injury you will have. Your body will also be healthier and happier. As BJ Fogg, author of the bestselling book, Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything encourages us to bring “Shine” to what you do.
When you have good muscular strength you are better able to do:
clean your house or car,
play with your grandchildren, and
yes, even gym workouts
Having muscular strength also give you the foundation for endurance, because it makes you stronger. When you are stronger, you can do these things longer and with less effort. Without that foundation of muscle strength, it is just like a house with a poor foundation – it may look good initially, but over time the foundation will begin to crumble.
I have noted over the past few months that my grip strength is not as good as it was. Opening jars is getting a bit harder. When I reflect back, I believe it may be due to my reduction in weight training. We recently moved and I have been unpacking boxes and getting the house organized. I have not been doing my regular workouts with weights. So losing muscle strength may be the cause. Not being able to open jars is just the beginning of something that could start to become a problem. Typing on a computer keyboard or swiping a smart phone is not strength training for your hands – just sayin. So for me, it’s going to be a real focus on more strength training. I’ll keep you posted.
Let’s now talk about cardio endurance. Without muscle strength in your legs you will see a difference in your ability to climb stairs, take long walks and walk hills, or run with your dog or grandkids. There may be other limitations as to why you can’t do these things, but it could be weak muscles. You can’t have good cardio endurance with weak muscles.
George Hood, plank record holder
George Hood, the 62 year old former Marine made headlines recently. He held a plank position for 8 hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds, breaking the Guinness World Record for plank holds. Now that’s endurance!
I can hold a plank for maybe a few minutes (which is a huge feat for me), but 8 hours? How did he do it? Muscle strength, absolutely. Focus, you bet. Hard work, yep! He trained for 18 months about 7 hours a day. I’m not sure I want to hold a plank that badly, but he did. His aspiration was to regain his record, which he lost in 2016. He had the endurance to do the training with the result of setting a Guineess World Record.
Hood is quoted as saying “Anyone can do what I do…. You have to start somewhere”
Hood focused those 8 plus house by playing rock music and imagining he was a rock star. He was that rock star!
What can we learn from George?
- He had a goal of regaining his world record
- He worked toward that goal
- He imagined being a rock star when the going got tough
- He succeeded
Ask yourself are you jamming or do you have a song?
What is your take away from George’s record? What are your goals and aspirations as you age? How are you going to have the endurance to be in it for the long haul? It’s your choice, but it can be done with a little endurance.
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World planking record set by ex-marine, aged 62