I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion. – Muhammad Ali
While some people still question the sanity of people leaving their couch cushions to lace up running shoes, dust off bikes, or snap on goggles, no one can deny that endurance sports are growing—and fast. Perhaps it’s in response to the obesity epidemic, increasing sedentary lifestyle, or just because it’s fun. Whatever the reason, people are leaving the weekend T.V. marathons in droves for the weekend marathon race, Ironman triathlon, or ultra-endurance 100-plus mile ultra races.
I’m guilty of this. While I was always a runner, I didn’t run my first marathon until I was 31 years old. That began my love affair with endurance racing. I am now in training for my first Ironman triathlon, so the relationship has grown stronger over the years.
So what are the benefits of endurance training? Why the appeal? What would make a presumably sane person want to spend hours running, swimming, or biking? While this list is not all-inclusive, here are the top ten benefits I enjoy as an endurance athlete.