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Unable to improve athletic performance.
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Unable to improve athletic performance.

It seems that this problem has haunted me for my entire life.  No matter how much I exercise or how hard I work, I cannot seem to improve my endurance and speed.  First it was running, which I was horrible at, because I couldnt run 1 mile without being completely exhausted.  Like I stated before, no matter how much I seemed to work at it, no improvement.  Recently, I took up water polo, and as you may know it requires lots of conditioning, namely, swimming.  I have played for about a year now, swimming 50+ laps at practices, but somehow, I can't seem to get faster or improve my endurance, and I feel like I am falling behind all of my teammates.  Could this be caused by a weaker respiratory system, or is it just my genes which are limiting my ability to participate in endurace sports?
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Avatar_n_tn
First of all, how old are you?

Secondly, in order to increase your athletic performance you need to be doing not just one, but four things in conjuction.

The first is diet, you need to be taking in the correct nutrients to change your body.  You are trying to become more athletic which essentially means shedding fat and building lean muscle.  The muscle can be endurance based or power based, but no matter which way you cut it, youre going to be trying to add muscle and shed immobile bulk (fat) to power you through the water better.
These nutrients include:
at least 4 servings of vegetables/fruit a day,
preferably 4 servings of lean meat
(each serving slightly larger than a deck of playing cards, white meat is better and less fatty, but its good to eat red meat maybe once or twice a week for its nutritional value not found in white meats...a little bit of creatine for example.
and perhaps 2 hits of carbohydrate (a few bowls of rice is perfect).
If you feel like you do not have enough energy then up the carb intake to 3 times a day.  Take the carbohydrate in during the morning or luchtime and an hour or so before you train.  After you train it might help to drink a protein shake to replace and build on the muscle loss expereinced during the workout.

Secondly is water intake.  Drink a **** load of water, try to be drinking about at least 4 litres a day.  
Even more if its hot and dry out and if youre working out really hard.

Thirdly is your training.  Make sure when you train you train hard, as hard as you can in fact.  Every time.  If this means that you are too tired to train the next day - so be it, take the day off, but only if you absolutely positively can not make it worthwhile.  If you are training for cardiovascular and endurance, you need, and i mean NEED to have your heartrate up significantly for OVER half an hour.  From what it sounds like to me, you want to get fitter rather than bigger, in which case i would recommend at least 45-55 mins of cardiovascular excersise 4-5 times a week.  This basically means swim at a rate that you can keep up 45-55mins but when youre done, you should feel really really tired.  Try not to take breaks as this allows your heart rate to lower and rest, you dont want it to rest, you want it to train.

Lastly but by no means least is sleep.  During the day we shrink, slowly but surely.  ALL of our growing, occurs during our time asleep.  Get as much sleep as you can.  8 hours is about perfect.  If you are really REALLY dedicated and you want to add lean muscle fast, set your alarm clock to wake you up in the middle of the night, drink a protein shake and go back to sleep again.

Obviously you should consult with your healthcare provider before embarking on any new excersise regime.
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Avatar_n_tn
As a track coach may I say I totally disagree with the philosophy of training hard every day.  That will NOT allow enough recovery time.  There is a reason why people don't lift weights every day, and there is a good reason why you should NEVER train as hard as you can every day.

I have trained high school athletes and seen great improvement by alternating hard and easy days.  Otherwise injuries occur and exhaustion breaks down the body.  As to what you should be doing depends upon what your training for.

For example when I train 400 meter runners we have strength days and speed days.  (3 ago we placed all of our sprint relays at state in Wisconsin).  On strength days we work at numerous intervals to increase capacity.  Typical day would be 4 to 6 400's at 80% effort.  We rest until the heart rate is between 120 to 130.  On speed days we focus on shorter intervals but at 90% effort.  This is to increase anaerobic capacity.

Early in the season we focus primarily on strength with two days of speed, but we always have an easy day in-between where we do some training, but it's primarily recovery.  As the season progresses we will focus more on quality rather than quantity so that we peak at the right moment.

If you are focusing on distance training, you have to work 6 days a week.  Have two easy days in the mix, but one day where you increase the quantity.

DO NOT OVER TRAIN.  THAT IS WORSE THAN UNDERTRAINING.  YOU SHOULD NEVER I SAY NEVER FEEL EXHAUSTED AT THE END OF A PRACTICE.
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Avatar_n_tn
I didnt say every day, i said 4 to 5 times a week.  This could mean 2 easy days or two days off, one easy day and a day off or whatever.  I dont see how my training regimen differs from yours in any way.  I agree overtraining has bad results but it shouldnt occur with a proper diet, proper sleep and proper water intake.

Thanks for your input though Coach.
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Avatar_m_tn
Diet, sleep, and water intake will not prevent overtraining, just help recover from it.  From reading your above posts, I too, thought that you meant to go all out all the time.  that would eventually get you hurt.  A program like the coaches with specific goals in respect to time, heart rate, or whatever would lead to results with a less likely chance of injury.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi tin,
I am 61. I too want to be able to improve my stamina by exercising. However, about seven years ago I felt that something happened where it seems that no matter how much I walked, for example, I could not seem to improve my walking stamina. I use to swim a 100 laps, but now I cannot swim one lap. About that time I just gotten over  two years of panic attacks in the form of pounding rapid heart beats. I am guessing my heart muscle was damaged.  A nuclear stress test last month, indicated that I had an old heart attack. It showed that a small portion of heart muscle was rigid, dead muscle. In my opinion, I think this rigid muscle prevents me from swimming and improving my walking stamina. About two weeks, ago , my cardiologist  said that my nuclear stress test was a false positive. If that is really true, then I have to throw my theory out the window. At this point, I must look into a review of that stress test. I find doctors very difficult to talk to if they don't know answers.
I wish you luck in trying to find answers. Your question sounds very reasonable. Good luck and please don't be discouraged by unreasonable answers. I hope you find out something else that is better then what I think.
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Avatar_n_tn
How about genes?
Does it affect my endurance and stamina
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