How to start endurance training – define your baseline

To start with, let us first look at what endurance training is all about; namely consecutive work over time. There is no secret recipe, or quick fix, just commitment. If you are new to endurance sports and have a goal of doing a long-distance race, your planning and training can stretch over several years. But you can also train for a couple of months and do a sprint distance. We all have different prerequisites, so a training plan that is a one size fits all is not a possibility. 

To define your baseline, we will look at the following

  • Your mental aspects
  • Your physical aspects
  • Your personal abilities

5 steps to successful training and racing

In order for you to juggle everyday life and to succeed with your training and racing, we have developed five steps, in which this is the first article. We will help you to define your starting point, your goal and the required training effort. We help you to answer how much, how often, and how hard you should workout. All of this is put together in an individual endurance training program.

In this series of articles, we will walk you through, 

  • Endurance training and racing. Your training season will “revolve around” the main race. So, how do you identify it, and what are your training objectives?
  • Training volume in endurance sports. Your capacity is slowly but surely built up during the season by a series of training sessions. Hours spent on training is, therefore, a central theme. How much and how often should you workout?
  • Endurance training plan – How to periodize training. Again, it is not only about training but also about training with a purpose. This is where the individual plan, with the different phases, comes in. When do you train what?
  • Endurance training zones – Intensity in training. Whether you base your training on heart rate, pace or effect, your training zones are the foundation for all training and racing. How hard should you workout, and how do you know what is enough?

Mental aspects

Regardless of your starting point and your goal, endurance training is all about commitment, and that commitment is spelled: Hours doing the training! For that to work, you need to have a balanced and positive mindset in combination with ambition.

Here are three questions that you need to think through before you start training. 

  • Why endurance sport, and not something else?
  • Am I willing to put the hours into training that is required? 
  • Do I have the necessary support from friends and family?

Our goal is for you to succeed, and for you to succeed, you need to prepare yourself and your loved ones. Your capacity to reach your goals is dependent on support from those around you.

As Marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge puts it: “100% of me is nothing compared to 1% of the entire team”.

Physical aspects of endurance training

Again, endurance training is repetitive. Sometimes you do the same thing over and over for hours on end. Your body’s capability to cope with the workload will increase over time during the unbroken sequence of workouts. 

At the start of the season, we recommend that you do an initial test of functional strength and mobility. We do that because we believe that finding possible imbalances, or weaker spots at the beginning of the season can help you put together a strength routine that will help reduce the risk of injury.

Here are three questions that you need to think through before you start training. 

  • Do I have any previous (sports)injuries that need treatment?
  • Which, if any of my physical prerequisites can limit me?
  • Do I need any special gear? Special running shoes or a bikefit?

For you to reach your goal, it is important that your physical and mental abilities correspond with your ambition. 

Personal abilities

To better understand who you are as an endurance athlete, the next thing to do is to map out your background as an athlete. To start, try to fill out the form below. 

Fill out the form in comparison to others you can compete with

Sport Slower Somewhat slower Somewhat faster Faster

Some people are born endurance athletes. One thing that they have in common is that they score high in testing theirs for perseverance.

In a continuous effort to better understand your athletic profile, let us pose some statements regarding endurance, power, and mobility

 How well do the following statements fit you?

  • I am stronger at the end of a workout compared to my friends. I prefer longer races. (Endurance)
  • I have more muscle mass than others my age. I prefer to bike on a heavier gear with low cadence. (Power)
  • I am better at shorter intervals. I run with a high stride count, 180 strides per minute or above. (Mobility)

With this knowledge, it is much easier to calibrate your training based on your athletic profile. 

Say that you score high in endurance, but when it comes to biking or running uphill, you get tired. That would mean that you maybe need to focus on your power, training more muscular stamina (if that is your goal of course). When defining your goals, and choosing a competition. You can take into consideration what your strengths are. 

Next in our series on how to start endurance training is:

  • Background

  • Training

  • Enter the date you think you are ready to start with structured training.
    Date Format: YYYY dash MM dash DD
  • A rule of thumb: Sprint (6-10h), Olympic (8-12h), Ironman 70.3 (8-14h), Ironman (10-14h)
  • Racing

  • If you have not yet decided, enter an approximate date.
    Date Format: YYYY dash MM dash DD
  • Other


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Our free individual triathlon training plan will structure your triathlon season. It will answer how much, how often, and how hard you should train.Training philosophy for endurance training