Rich Sumpter is an elite triathlete sponsored by leading supplement brand USN! (To get your USN supplements, follow this link -http://http://monstersupplements.com/store/type_list-56-asc-long_name-lang-1.html) Fortunately for you, Rich has agreed to become the FitMag 'Endurance Expert' enabling you to ask a real expert any question in relation to improving your endurance!
How do I improve my aerobic capacity whilst maintaining muscle mass?
Even though endurance athletes are generally small and lean, improving aerobic capacity doesn't have to mean reducing muscle mass. Obviously the higher the mass the more difficult sports such as running and cycling will be due to the extra weight. By adding run/cycle sessions to your current resistance training will boost your aerobic capacity. It is vital in any sport, including weight lifting and bodybuilding, as it will help keep your heart healthy. By using a suitable recovery product (Recover Xcell or similar) you will ensure that your body doesn't break down muscle for fuel. Ensure you have enough protein (2g/kg weight) and carbohydrates (60% of total calories for general population). Keep doing weight and circuit training as well as aerobic sessions.
How often should I run each week to be fit enough to run a half marathon?
When training for a long event it is key to have a consistent plan. There is no benefit from training hard for 3 days and then resting for 1 week! Depending on your time available there are 2 plans. No.1 - Reduce your session time (30mins), but perform this session each day for 6 days, with 1 day rest, and do it HARD! No. 2 - Train every other day, alternating between long, EASY sessions(60 mins), and shorter harder sessions (30-45 mins). Remember, in both cases it is vital to fuel correctly in training, and after, for optimal recovery.
My aerobic fitness is terrible to the point I cannot even run 1 mile. How can I improve it because I want to be able to run 6-7 mile runs every week?
You have to start somewhere. With a low aerobic capacity the key is to train sensibly and consistently. Start slowly, up to 15mins, and don't be afraid to walk. Key here is the time, not the distance - that comes in the future (Ironman anyone?). Keep this going for 6 out of 7 days. As this becomes easier add 30 second bursts (Fartlek training - I know it has a silly name), as these produce improvements in endurance and speed. Don't increase your running time for 2 weeks, and then only by 10%. Hopefully you'll see improvements soon, and remember, make sure you do stretches after you have warmed up (evidence has shown there is no need before) and running drills to maintain correct technique. Joining a local running club may also be of benefit in helping reach your goals.
For our 'November Q&A with Rich Sumpter' please forward all of your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org !