By: Marleen van Balkom On: July 07, 2016 In: Fitness, Health Comments: 0

During the European championship and while watching the matches, one can wonder, if us hobby athletes can learn from professional football players. During the 90 minutes of a single match, most players run up to 10-13 kilometers! Add all those sprints and you’ll be out of breath simply from watching them! ;)But how do these footballers train their endurance? And are there any tricks that we can incorporate into our fitness routine to increase our own endurance?

Christian Manunzio-Sportuni KölnFirst things first: especially untrained hobby athletes have to be careful not to start training on a very high level, as this might entail injuries. According to training expert Christian Manunzio from the German Sport University Cologne, risk of injury is highly increased in beginners compared to advanced athletes, as their muscles are not yet used to the strain.

“People, who have been out of training for a while, experience muscle fatigue as fast as 15 minutes into training”, says training expert Christian Manunzio from the German Sport University Cologne, who himself is a cyclist and triathlete, and warns against starting training on a high level.

Due to this, most experts advice beginners to start by developing a basal endurance that allows the athlete to jog over a longer distance at a steady pace. It is important not to start running too quickly in the beginning!

Endurance training can be divided into aerobic and anaerobic training. Aerobic training is more important for runners, as it enhances endurance. It means that oxygen is used to burn the fuel, in this case glycogen and fat, in order to generate energy for running. This type of training is often of low or intermediate intensity and allows longer training units.

In contrast to that, anaerobic training consists of short, very exhausting workouts such as sprints or a trendy HIIT workout (High Intensity Interval Training). This has the advantage that it builds lean muscle, but simultaneously leads to the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles, which increases muscle fatigue and lowers endurance.

How can you measure if your training is aerobic or anaerobic? If you can still talk while running, you are training aerobically. Endurance athletes that want to run a long distance should stay in this aerobic range.

How does a good training plan look like?

Your first goal is to develop a basal endurance, that is, to be able to jog for about half an hour at a steady pace. If you have achieved this, you might want to add an interval training once a week into your plan. Here, short sprints alternate with distances at a slower pace or even short breaks in order to increase your overall pace. In addition, one training unit should be dedicated to further improving your basal endurance, e.g. a steady long run. In addition, you should incorporate a unit to improve your running technique, as this can prevent injuries and increase your flexibility.

Physical activities and endurance training have anti-inflammatory effects

A lot happens on a metabolic level when you train your endurance: American scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital have found that fit people produce nicotinamide during moderate training units. This is a degradation product of vitamin B3, which is known to reduce cell stress and play anti-inflammatory roles in mice.

In addition, the build-up of lactic acid can give a good impression of a person’s training level. As is described above, lactic acid is produced during the anaerobic respiration of glucose. The more often you train, the longer you can run aerobically, which leads to less build-up of this metabolite compared to beginners. Thus, lactic acid can be used as a marker for endurance.

For this reason, we have included both nicotinamide and lactic acid in our future fitness panel. You will be thrilled to discover how both of these and many other metabolites change in response to your workout!

And how about our football heroes?

They obviously train all year long in their different teams and thus have a very good condition already, but endurance training is still an important part in the preparation for the European championship for all teams!

Last but not least, the most important question: Why should we run at all?

Why do millions of people get up every day for an exhausting workout and try to beat their personal records year after year?

Science gives us an easy answer: Running makes us happy. Scientists have discovered that dopamine receptors are influenced by endurance trainings. Since dopamine is an important messenger in the brain, this can lead to exhilaration.

Even more importantly, production of serotonin, the hormone mainly contributing to happiness, is largely increased by exhausting workouts. Joy is thus found on the running tracks, not your sofa! 😉

So get out there, and besides increasing your endurance, boost your vitamin D production while enjoying the fresh air and sun! Now let’s get carried away watching the Euro Cup…


Further Reading:

How many kilometres does a football player run in a game?

Health and the City


Langsamer laufen, schneller werden


Aerobic and anaerobic exercise: What’s the difference?


Endurance training effects on striatal D2 dopamine receptor binding and striatal dopamine metabolites in presenescent older rats

MacRae et al., 1987


Effect of endurance training on hypothalamic serotonin concentration and performance

Caperuto et al., 2008;jsessionid=922DFAC7F074A57B306921DDEAD9BFDE.f02t03?userIsAuthenticated=false&deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=


Why does running make us happy?