Ask The Expert

How To Increase Your Running Endurance And Stamina (Expert Tips)

Three experts reveal their tips and tricks for helping to increase your running stamina and endurance over time

How To Increase Your Running Endurance And Stamina
(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Improving your running endurance and stamina requires both effort and patience.

Whether you’re just getting into running or have been hitting the track or treadmill for some time, you’ll usually be looking to increase both your endurance and stamina in the long term.

So, what are some of the key thing to bear in mind when it comes to improving your running capacity?

We asked a selected group of experts for their top tips when it comes to improving running endurance and stamina.

Here’s what they said.

Stay Consistent And Be Patient

John (JJ) Santana, Distance Runner and Running Coach for Tagalong

I will be going over some key tips that all athletes can use to improve their endurance and stamina, but will be especially useful for athletes who are just starting out in building their running fitness.

The number one tip is consistency, all athletes from all sports, at all levels need consistency, but this is especially important for endurance athletes who are just starting to build their fitness. In endurance sports, you cannot build your fitness all in one day.

The most common mistake I see for athletes just starting out is that they try and do too much too soon. The first thing you have to do as a runner is to build a strong base.

This is step number one and there is no skipping this step. If you try and do too much hard work too fast you will either burn out and quit or get injured and you will be forced to take two steps back. This will lead to frustration and doubt and that is that last thing that you want.

My next tip is patience. This goes hand in hand with consistency. We are talking about endurance sports, that is a sustained effort over a long period of time.

If you have both patience and consistency, believe me you will have a huge advantage over most people.

You will not see the benefits of the work you do today until next week. You will not see the benefits of the work you do this week until next month. You will not see the work you do in the next three months until next year.

You need to be patient enough to work every day knowing that today alone will not get you to where you want to go, but every day you put in work, no matter how small is a step in the right direction that will get you to where you want to be.

Man Running

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

The next tip is balance. For me, this is the most important tip of all.

Most of your runs should be at an easy or moderate controlled effort, but you will also have to have some moderate to hard workouts mixed in if you want to really improve as a runner. This is where balance comes into play.

If you want to really see improvements in your performances you need to be able to do both and make sure you are doing both in the proper way.

The key is making sure you understand that your easy/recovery runs are there to make sure that you recover while also building your base fitness at the same time.

A very common mistake runners end up making is working too hard on their easy/recovery runs. This creates an imbalance in your training.

The basic idea is, you have a moderate/hard workout where you introduce fatigue into your body, then you will need to take a few easy/moderate recovery runs to let your body recover from that fatigue.

If you are running too hard on your easy runs your body will not recover from the fatigue and when you do your next workout you might struggle because you did not balance your easy/hard efforts properly.

It is key that you are properly recovered so you can really hit your hard workouts with as fresh legs as possible. If you run well in your hard workouts, this will lead to confidence that will carry over to race day.

The last thing I remind runners is to make sure you enjoy what you are doing. It is very easy to get so caught up in what we are doing that you might not even enjoy it anymore, especially once expectations and pressure start to mount.

Sometimes as runners, we can train for months or even a whole year just for one race, and on race day nothing is guaranteed.

Anyone can have a bad race, and if you do, that can really crush your spirit. Over the past six years I have run hundreds of races ranging from small road 5ks, obstacle course races, mountain ultra-marathons, to the U.S. Olympic marathon trials.

The biggest thing I have learned is that the less I care about the results, the happier I am and honestly the better my results have become.

Most people will pick up running as a hobby, something they have to make time for between work, family, and other responsibilities, so running should be something you enjoy.

My advice is to make sure you enjoy it.

Woman Running

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Gradually Increase Your Weekly Mileage

Jordan Duncan, Owner of Silverdale Sport and Spine

Finding a training program that gradually increases your weekly running mileage is an excellent way to improve your stamina and endurance.

As a beginner, this could be a 5k or 10k program, but for the more adventurous runners it could be a half or full marathon training plan.

The body has a tremendous ability to adapt to the stresses imposed on it, and most training programs will take advantage of this fact. The more you run, the better your body will be at running.

A lesser known but very important way to increase running stamina and endurance is through strength and power development.

While this may fly in the face of what many coaches have believed in the past, research has shown that improvements in explosive strength and endurance performance go hand in hand.

This was demonstrated in the article Concurrent strength and endurance training effects on running economy in master endurance runners, which showed that runners benefit from both strength and endurance training in terms of improving endurance performance.

Running Race

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Keep It Even And Consistent

Lucy Hurn, Triathlon Coach and Auro Trainer

A lot of beginners run too fast and burn out. So, to stop this from happening, ask yourself:

‘Can I keep going without increasing my heart rate?’ and ‘Can I keep this going whilst just breathing through my nose?’

If the answer to either of these two key questions is no, slow down and relax.

Running your hardest to begin with will most likely result in injury and exhaustion, and let’s face it, that’s no fun. Just relax, go slow and reach your little goals on the journey to succeeding in your ultimate goal.

Start with your easy running pace (remember, breathe through the nose), slowly build up your distance and see if you can still run at this easy pace.

It may feel as if you are going too slow, but this is an effective way to build an aerobic base.

If you have a certain time goal for a race then do a time trial before the race. This will build your confidence and give you an idea of how your body is before the big race day.

A running app like Auro can help you to track your pacing, speed, elevation and time splits.

Secondly, consider strength training. Whatever your goal is, it’s about building up strength and consistency. Therefore, try and keep your training even each week – don’t do loads of long runs one week and one short run the next week. Keep it even and constant.

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