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How to Improve Running Endurance: 10 Pro Tips

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When it comes to running workouts, there are no shortcuts. To build running endurance, you must run—and you must do so in a way that prevents you from getting injured.

Some people might think that to build stamina, they should go out and run longer and harder each run. This works against you in many ways physiologically. This won’t optimally spur the cellular adaptations needed to become a more efficient running machine and can cause the breakdown of your parts (if we are going with the machine analogy).

Instead, you must show up consistently and balance stress and rest to build running endurance.

This article will cover the 10 ways to build running endurance in the most optimal ways.

But first, what is running endurance?

If endurance is your ability to embrace discomfort and withstand fatigue, then running endurance is your ability to keep running even though you’re tired.

How can beginner runners build endurance?

Beginner runners can build endurance by running as much as they can at a safe level. Do not increase mileage too soon or run too fast.

Don’t increase more than 10 percent of total volume week over week. And run at an easy running pace with walk breaks. 

Should you run every day to build endurance?

Running every day will build endurance but only when your body has worked up gradually to the training plan load. If you run every day without taking the time to build up to this, the risk of injury increases.

How long does it take to build endurance?

It can take 10 days to a month to see the effects of a run. 

What is the best exercise for endurance?

The best exercise to build endurance is RUNNING!

Okay, let’s go!

1. Run consistently

Running consistently is the bread and butter of building running endurance and becoming a runner. Each time you hit the pavement (or trails), you spur physiological adaptations like a stronger heart, muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons and increase aerobic capacity that make running feel easier over time. It can take a few weeks to reap the benefits of a run, so keep at it!

Aim to add running sessions over elongating the duration of runs to start since these effects are triggered with each run.

2. Keep it fun

Run with friends, music, audiobooks, and podcasts (like our The Passionate Runner podcast!) to entertain yourself and keep it fun.

In fact, studies show that running to music improves endurance. And any runner will tell you that there is no better way to pass the time on a long run than chatting with a run friend. 

3. Take walk breaks

Most runners or new runners make the mistake of thinking that runners should not walk. This is a huge error in judgment.

Walk breaks can decrease the occurrence of injury and improve running stamina, so take breaks as needed—especially as you begin your running journey!

4. Run long

Even if you aren’t training for a half marathon or marathon, runners should do a long run one per week. A long run should be about 30 percent of your weekly mileage. So, if you run 30 miles per week, your long run would be about 9 miles.

Doing a long run teaches your body how to withstand the time on your feet, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to train your brain to endure the discomfort that may come with running long. The more you do this, the easier it will be.

5. Run easy

Another mistake new runners make (and many experienced runners) is running too fast on their runs. In fact, a bulk of the physiological adaptations that help running endurance occur at an easy pace which corresponds to a 6 on the effort scale.

So, keep your pace at one where you can hold a conversation and feel like you can run forever. This will allow your body to get stronger and prevent injury so you can keep running!

6. Run hard

While most of your running should be done at an easy pace, some of it should be run at a hard effort. The percentage varies, but for most people, roughly 20 percent of your total weekly volume should be run at faster paces after you’ve built a solid pace of easy running.

Running faster, including strides, hill sprints, interval training, and tempo runs, multiply training effects such as your aerobic and anaerobic endurance, VO2 max, and running economy. Your body learns how to most efficiently, and the additional stress allows it to build back stronger.

Start with strides and short hills, then progress to fartleks, tempos and speed workouts, then faster interval workouts on the track, depending on your running goals.

7. Lift weights

For a long time, runners acted as if they were allergic to lifting—fearful it would make them bulky and slow them down. This is wrong. Lifting weights helps runners run faster for longer.

One study found an improvement of 8 percent in running economy (how much energy it takes to run at a certain pace) in runners who practiced strength training. That is a substantial PR.

Aim for two 30-minute sessions per week incorporating basic moves such as squats, lunges, step-ups, and deadlifts using heavyweights plus plyometrics.

8. Sleep

Sleep is crucial for improving your running endurance because sleep is where the magic happens. It’s when your body repairs all the cellular damage you’ve done to it from the day so that you wake up stronger.

Runners who don’t get at least 7 to 8 hours a night may suffer from impaired running performance and injury! Plus, the more you run, the more sleep you need!

9. Eat

Runners need to eat to perform! Runners who do not eat before their runs and refuel with carbs and protein will also risk poor performance and injury. Your body needs those macros as fuel to go the distance and then as ingredients to repair those muscles.

Aim to eat a couple of hundred calories of carbs before your runs and refuel within 30-45 minutes after your runs to empower your body to become a stronger, faster runner. The longer you run, the more fuel you need.

10. Take supplements

Speaking of nutrition, some supplements have been found to improve running endurance.

A CoQ10 supplement is an antioxidant molecule found in nearly every cell in the body that aids in energy production and helps prevent cell damage. In multiple studies, CoQ10 has been shown to increase the time taken to reach muscular exhaustion, thereby helping to increase running endurance.

An ashwagandha supplement is an adaptogen (a substance that helps our body deal with the physical manifestations of stress) that has been shown to improve the maximum rate of oxygen consumption (VO2 max) during exercise, thereby improving running endurance capacity.

Consult your physician before taking any nutritional supplements recommended.

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