Endurance means the ability to sustain intense physical activity over time, without any significant drop in performance. It follows that, within the framework of high-intensity anaerobic exercise, endurance can be measured in minutes and in that of low-intensity aerobic exercise in hours. In some sports stamina is the determining parameter for the purposes of winning (think of the triathlon), however, if the performance of a triathlete is compared to that of a weight lifter and an ultra runner, it is clear that the same term can take on different meanings.
When it comes to Endurance, in fact, three divergent but correlated themes often overlap: muscle stamina, cardiorespiratory stamina, and brain stamina (resilience). Muscle stamina, typical of weight lifters, is the capability of a muscle, or group of muscles, to repeat a specific movement multiple times, thus making it possible to sustain a certain effort for as long as possible. It depends on the capability of the muscle to extract as much energy as possible from glycogen, while at the same time producing few waste products (lactic acid, free radicals, etc.). This allows a greater number of muscular contractions with the same fuel burned and, therefore, a greater resistance to repetition. The mechanism is local and not general and is biochemical. In order for this metabolic condition to occur, the muscle must be richly supplied with blood and have the highest possible number of mitochondria per gram of muscle tissue.
Cardiorespiratory stamina, typical of triathletes, represents instead the capability to perform a movement while saving energy, managing to keep the body active for an extended period of time thanks to the joint work of muscles, heart and lungs. Cardiorespiratory stamina involves the body as a whole rather than specific muscles during a motor movement. Great cardiorespiratory stamina is typical of all athletes practising aerobic sports in which they have to cover long distances at relatively high work intensities. Cardiorespiratory stamina depends on many factors, some can be modified with training while others can barely or not be able to be modified at all. It is typically expressed in terms of maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max), however, since the measurement of VO2max is expensive and not simple, very often the heart rate is measured that has been seen to be closely correlated.
In ultra running, the most important aspect, obviously integrated with cardiorespiratory stamina, is resilience. In this sport, races lasting longer than a day lead the athlete to experience extreme conditions of sleep deprivation, major overloads on the musculoskeletal system and hunger and thirst crises. It is obvious that cruising speed becomes an added factor in the ability to overcome such “adverse circumstances”.
Only the combination of the different capabilities of stamina can allow the athlete to focus on pursuing his own goal, be it the result of a primarily muscular, cardiorespiratory or mental (brain function) expression.
Endurance measurements are very important in training and monitoring performance. OptoJump enables measuring time-space parameters during a treadmill run, for example during a Conconi Test (used by coaches to estimate cardiorespiratory stamina). In this way, in addition to obtaining the aerobic threshold value (in terms of heart rate), it will be possible to analyze the changes in performance as a result of fatigue and perhaps also to identify the “biomechanical” threshold when, that is, the applied motor pattern varies in order to maintain the desired speed, affecting the different parameters.
The Witty system, on the other hand, enables measuring the times in endurance tests in the open air, as the complete Racetime2 SF Kit, used for example as a timing system in training and in skiing competitions. To provide an additional boost to performance improvement, Witty TAB can be combined to show the times.
Finally WITTY SEM (and the exercises offered by BrainHQ) can be used in training sessions for building complex exercise pathways that involve a large number of repetitions for each exercise or for the administration of cognitive tasks with a view to dual-tasking for the development of resilience. A decline in performance and high variability of movement can highlight an incapacity for concentration or weak motor patterns.