Every runner wants to learn how to run faster and longer. Whether they are into running for years or just started jogging every morning, people are always looking for ways to run further and feel better. People who just began their running journey might be trying to make it to two miles while marathon runners might be looking to hit a time goal.
Whatever may be your goal, you need to build your stamina to reach it. Here are 11 genius tricks to help you improve your running endurance and stamina, even if you feel like you’re not the best runner.
1. Start slow and tackle small steps
Even if you feel ready to bump up your distance or speed, it’s a smart idea to go slow and aim to make incremental gains in your training program. This is especially true if you’re new to a regular running schedule. If you’ve been averaging 4-mile runs, don’t bump it up to 7 miles. To avoid injury and burnout, go up in small steps, such as increasing by 1 mile each week.
Another important tip, says Alex Harrison, PhD, CSCS, USATF-3, USAT, USAW, a sport performance consultant with Renaissance Periodization, is to always start training from where you are, not where you wish you were. “Progress should be over many weeks, allowing time for recovery, but getting harder and harder,” Harrison explains.
2. Add strength training
If you’re not already doing resistance training workouts, then you need to add them to your running program. Performing strength training exercises at least 2 to 3 days a week can help improve running economy, according to a review of literature from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
Plus, increasing the strength of all of your muscles helps reduce your chance of getting injured. Aim for full-body workouts that target the major muscle groups. Perform 2 to 3 sets per exercise, 8 to 12 repetitions per set.
3. Commit to training
You have to be consistent with your training to increase running stamina. “Training needs to progress from less total training and less intense training to more total training volume and more intense sessions,” says Harrison. If your running workouts don’t progress in volume or intensity over the course of months, there will be no progression.
4. Alter rest times and intervals
Other than simply increasing the number of miles you run each week, Stonehouse says he likes to limit recovery time between intervals, while also increasing the intensity of the running intervals. Both are great steps toward building stamina. However, he does point out that the recovery period both during the workout and after is critical, especially when it comes to avoiding injuries.
5. Sprint interval training
Sprint interval training is a type of high-intensity training used in many sports like running to help boost stamina and speed. In fact, a studyTrusted Source found that six sessions of sprint interval training improved the running performance, both endurance and anaerobic, in trained runners. The intervals of work performed are at 100 percent of your effort, or all-out sprints. The rest periods are longer to help with recovery.
6. Train for your distance
The distance or time of the intervals will be relative to the race distance you’re training for, according to Stonehouse. For example, if you’re training for a marathon, “speed work” may consist of mile repeats. But if the training is for a 1,600-meter or 1-mile race, the speed work may be repeats of 100 meter, 200 meter, or 400 meter distances.
7. Slowly increase weekly mileage
The overall goal for a beginner should be to slowly increase mileage while getting stronger with resistance training. Following a training plan can help beginners build stamina and endurance while reducing the risk of injury.
Here’s a sample 5K training plan from Harrison:
- Week 1: 4 x (walk 1/4 mile, jog 1/4 mile), walk 1/4 mile to cool down
- Week 2: 6 x (walk 1/4 mile, jog 1/4 mile), walk 1/4 mile to cool down
- Week 3: 4 x (walk 1/4 mile, jog 1/2 mile), walk 1/4 mile to cool down
- Week 4: 3 x (walk 1/4 mile, jog 3/4 mile), walk 1/4 mile to cool down
- Week 5: 2 x (walk 1/4 mile, jog 1 mile), walk 1/4 mile to cool down
- Week 6: 2 x (walk 1/4 mile, jog 1 1/4 mile), walk 1/4 mile to cool down
- Week 7 (recovery): 2 x (walk 1/4 mile, jog 1/2 mile), walk 1/4 mile to cool down
8. Use heart rate data
If you have access to a heart rate monitor, consider using this information to help boost your running stamina. “Heart rate monitor data can be critical for beginners to know how efficient your body is at working hard and recovering quickly,” explains Stonehouse.
9. Increase running volume
Running 1,600 meters or 1 mile may not seem too difficult, but if you’re racing against the clock, every second counts. And when you consider that a mile or 1,600 meters is an aerobic event, Harrison says you have to be incredibly fit to run it faster. The best way to get incredibly fit, he says, is to run lots of miles per week, and progressively increase them over time.
10. Focus on running economy
Running economy reflects the energy demand of running at a constant submaximal speed. In general, runners with good economy use less oxygen than runners with poor economy at the same steady-state speed. Therefore, if you want to become more economical at running mile pace, Harrison says you need to run at or near mile pace.
One way to accomplish this is to sometimes run faster and sometimes slower, and then zero in on mile pace as the race nears. Harrison outlines a sample workout from the Renaissance Periodization beginner 5K plan that helps improve running economy when training for a faster mile time.
How to do it:
- Jog 1 mile easy.
- Run 400 meters at 5K race pace.
- Walk 200 meters.
- Run 400 meters at 3K race pace.
- Walk 200 meters.
- Run 200 meters at mile race pace.
- Walk 200 meters.
- 6 x 400 meters at mile race pace minus 1 second per lap with a 400-meter walk recovery.
- Jog 1 mile easy.
As you work towards improving your running stamina, it’s essential to be mindful about your food habits. The food you eat plays a prominent role in boosting your stamina, endurance, and overall wellness. If you aren’t eating healthy, nutritious foods, your body simply lacks what it needs to fuel your run and your entire day.