Do you want to eventually be able to run a marathon? Maybe you just want bragging rights when it comes to how much distance you can cover in a single running session. Well, regardless of the reason, you are here because you want to be able to take your stamina to the next level and want to be able to run for longer.
The first thing you should know about this process that you aren’t going to see an improvement overnight – it is definitely going to take some time. However, if you stick with it, you will certainly be able to achieve the results you want. So, with this in mind, here is what you need to do:
This feels like a rather obvious point but that doesn’t mean it is any less important. If you are hoping to improve your endurance and aren’t willing to wait months to do so, you need to be lacing up at least five times a week. The good news, though, is that you don’t have to run crazy distances every day. Instead, you can complete shorter runs around two to three times a week and save the longer ones for the other days.
That being said, there is no denying that running five times a week isn’t feasible for most people with busy lives. If this describes your situation, then you can reduce the number of times you run to around three times a week. Of course, this does mean that you have to focus on running longer routes on these days as there is no room for easy runs.
As you can imagine, one of the things that can really throw you off while running is your breathing. This is especially true when you are pushing yourself to run longer distances. So, one of the things that you need to focus on is your breathing techniques.
First and foremost, you should get into the habit of breathing through both your nose and your mouth – particularly when you have been on the move for a while. Since your body’s oxygen demands will increase the farther you run, breathing through your nose and mouth can make sure that these requirements are met.
The next thing to keep in mind is your breath depth. When you have been running for a while and need to catch your breath, you are more like to take quick, shallow breaths. Unfortunately, this isn’t going to provide your lungs or muscles with the oxygen that they need. To be able to do this, you will need to start practicing deep breathing.
This is fairly simple. See, whenever you inhale, you should be able to see your belly protrude a little. You will then be able to tell that the air has worked its way deep into your lungs. Your stomach will depress once more when you exhale. In the beginning, it can be helpful to place your hand on your belly, just to make sure that you are breathing deeply enough.
As already mentioned, it is going to take a bit of time before you are able to run a greater distance than what you are currently used to. Now, it can be tempting to run as far as you can, each time you train. In fact, it can seem like an excellent way to boost your endurance and help you reach your running goal. Unfortunately, this method will only serve to increase the risk of you hurting yourself by overtraining.
What you do need to do, instead, is to rely on the 10-percent rule. This states that you should only ever increase your running distance by 10 percent compared to what you were able to do the week before. For example, let’s imagine you have been running two miles in the last week. If you want to kick this up the following week, you can try running 2.2 miles. However, you shouldn’t attempt anything greater than this.
Now, when it comes to building up your endurance, most runners are concerned with longevity over speed. Nonetheless, incorporating sprints into your regular runs can actually provide you with that stamina boost that you need. After all, sprints are responsible for an increase in lung capacity and muscle strength which is what you need to help build up your endurance.
To start with, you can simply run at full speed for around 15 to 30 seconds and then slow to a jog or even a walk. It is important to watch for overtraining, though, when relying on this method. Try to limit interval training to around two to three times a week for the best results.
If you are trying to whip your body into shape and increase your stamina, running farther isn’t always the solution. This is why you should consider uphill running every now and then. As you are aware, it takes a lot more effort to run on an incline. This means that your heart has to work much harder and with time, you will be able to see that your aerobic capacity will increase.
Uphill running provides other parts of your body with a serious workout as well – this includes your calves, hamstrings, quads, and core. The combined benefits of these uphill sprints mean that you get to enjoy greater stamina when running on level ground. To start with, you should try to run uphill sprints for around 10 to 30 seconds and then cool down for around 60 to 90 seconds. With time, you may be able to increase these sprints up to 60 seconds at a time.
It can be rather unusual to see a runner hitting the gym or getting involved in too many other activities. This is fair enough, considering that most runners are interested in improving their cardiovascular performance. You should keep in mind, though, that running isn’t the only form of activity to help improve this aspect of your fitness. Cycling and swimming are both excellent for this. To top it off, these activities are actually a lot gentler on your joints, helping to cut down on the risk of injuries.
On a similar note, to enhance your stamina, you are also going to need to build up muscle. After all, the stronger your muscles are, the more capable they will be of supporting you on long distances. So, you should start focusing on building up muscles in your legs, core, and glutes. Fortunately, a few simple bodyweight exercises will be enough to get you started. Try squats, lunges, and planks to improve these areas.
Food can be a rather tricky thing to work out for runners. On the one hand, you know you need fuel to keep going. On the other, nobody wants to have to deal with the queasiness of eating a snack shortly before going for a long run. Also, many runners assume that they are burning a lot more calories than they actually are – it is estimated that you burn a little over 100 calories for every mile that you run.
About an hour before you head out for your run, try eating a snack that is no more than 150 to 200 calories. It is important that you have some unprocessed carbs that are easily digested. This can include a banana, whole wheat toast, whole grain crackers, or carrot sticks. It can be good to eat some protein along with this, but you should stick with a few cashews, healthy nut butters, hummus, or a cheese stick.
The more you run and train, the more you will exert your body. So, it should come as no surprise that you get lots of sleep as well. It is when you are sleeping that your body is able to repair itself and heal so that you can continue with your training. The key to a properly functioning body, though, is to get the right amount of sleep. This is why you should aim to get at least eight hours a day.
It is just as important to know when to rest your body as well. Although you may be itching to train like a demon and to get your endurance level up, you have to learn to take a break every now and then as well. So, after a bout of particularly strenuous training, it can be beneficial to take a day or two off. In the long run, it will actually help to improve your performance and preserve your health.
Even the most determined runner can feel like giving up on occasion. Not to mention, it could feel like you can’t convince yourself to run anymore, even though you can. It is during these moments that it actually helps to distract yourself. Music is often an excellent mechanism for keeping you on track with your training. Choose tunes that get your heart rate up and prompt you to run for just a little longer.
If you are someone who craves company, then you may find that having a running buddy can make it easier to push yourself a little further. These individuals will act both as motivation and competition and make your runs a bit more fun. Just remember to choose someone with an equal or greater skill level than you so that you don’t feel the need to let your performance lag.
While this may seem like quite a list, keep in mind that every one of these points will help to build up your endurance. So, consider including them all in your running routine.
Joi Bellis is a writer with a focus on health and fitness. She uses her Master’s degree in Psychology to research how people can prepare themselves both physically and mentally to become healthier and stronger individuals. Joi loves sharing this knowledge with her readers and hopes to enrich as many lives as she can.