Going from Zero to Hero

Proven Ways to Safely Ramp Up Your Training

With the rise in numbers of participants joining endurance events in the last decade, there’s no doubt that more people are embracing the active lifestyle and paying attention to exercise, diet, and their overall health. Progressing from weekend warrior to a committed multisport enthusiast however, demands some key adjustments in training, nutrition, and recovery. Here’s what it takes:


THE PROBLEM:  There are other commitments that need most of our time and attention. This makes it hard to find time to train. When valuable free time appears, we tend go crazy and squeeze in as much kilometers or hours as possible. This can lead to injury or decrease the quality of your training performance.

THE FIX:  Accomplishing small but consistent amounts of training during the weekdays is far better than putting all your energy into one day over the weekend. Keeping a regular training schedule, and being persistent in observing it allows your body to better adapt to the intensity.

If you are persistent, you will get it. If you are consistent, you will keep it.


THE PROBLEM:  Getting stuck in a plateau, not seeing gains in your training efforts may have t do with the kind of training program you have, or don’t have.

THE FIX:  To adapt to the training stimulus, exercise workload must be gradually increased with intermittent periods of rest and recovery. The increases are usually five to 15 percent over time. This helps prevent overtraining and injury, and provides enough stress to allow adaptation to occur.


THE PROBLEM:  With races filling up the yearly calendar each week, the convenience and your enthusiasm make it easy to fall into the trap of signing up for as many as you can. But you need to be picky with the races for you to be at your best health and fitness levels to achieve your goal—whether it’s getting on the podium or beating your personal record.

THE FIX:  Treat each race  differently by categorizing them into “A,” which you consider as the race with the highest priority, or “C,” as the least. In this way, you don’t push yourself too much during each race which can lead to overuse injuries and overtraining. Getting a certified coach is important as he or she can help you plan for these races, assess your progress properly, make changes to your training program, as well explain what’s happening to your body because of training, and can also maximize your potential as you manage your time with training, a day job, and other commitments.


THE PROBLEM:  Heat illness has always been an issue for everyone living and training in a tropical country. A two percent drop in body weight will decrease both mental and physical performance which are both components for athletic potential. Depletion of your glycogen stores may lead to low glucose (blood sugar) levels during high-intensity aerobic exercise. “Bonking” or “hitting the wall” is described by endurance athletes as the sudden sensation of fatigue and loss of energy due to fuel deficiency.

THE FIX:  Carbohydrates are the most important energy food for exercise because it can be used by both the lactate system and aerobic system. The optimal range of carbohydrate ingestion is 60 to 90 grams per hour. If athletic activity is greater than 60 minutes, you should drink fluids with carbohydrates & electrolytes. A sports drink is formulated to be absorbed fast into your system. In sweat tests done in the Philippines in 2011, the average sweat rate of male Filipino endurance athletes was 1.21 liters per hour, while female Filipino endurance athletes on the other hand lose 0.65 liters per hour.

The right nutrition strategy for optimal recovery should be taken within 45 minutes after intense workouts. This strategy focuses on the 3 R’s:

Refuel with both simple and complex carbohydrates

Repair through lean protein; and

Rehydrate with low caffeine and other diuretics.


The objective of training is to cause the body to adapt and manage the physiological stresses of competition. Training stress is a training load given to the body that challenges its current state of fitness.

THE PROBLEM:  Many of us struggle with the idea of training less and having a rest day or an easy week, thinking that they might lose fitness. Instead, they go for long and intense workouts which cumulatively overloads the body. This can cause exhaustion, a decrease in performance quality, and overtraining.

THE FIX:  You should remember that overload happens during workouts, but adaptation occurs during rest and recovery. This is known as “overcompensation.” After a hard workout or training week, an inclusion of a recovery day or easy week can promote a greater-than-normal training adaptation phase called “supercompensation.”

Consulting a knowledgeable coach, following a science-based training plan, practicing time management, eating and hydrating adequately, and recovering properly are all necessary to reach your personal goals. Keep these in mind and you’ll soon see quality gains in your performance, and a happier and faster endurance athlete.


BY Saul Anthony I. Sibayan, MSS, TSAC-F

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