Endurance is one thing runners can always use more of. It doesn’t matter if you want to run farther or faster, improved endurance is the key to accomplishing both.
So, how can you increase your endurance? It seems like it would be simple; run longer or more often and your endurance should improve. But it isn’t always that easy. Sometimes our body needs a little help, or our training needs a tweak, to see the results we want.
With that in mind, below are a few tips runners have used to increase their endurance. Maybe they can help you push past your boundaries too.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Endurance is built over time. In order to build endurance, you have to push your body a little bit further than it has gone before. But that doesn’t mean running yourself past the point of exhaustion, which is where many runners get caught up.
Running one block more today than you did yesterday is progress. If you keep running a little bit farther each day, your stamina will improve over time and you’ll avoid the injury risks associated with training to exhaustion.
The key to building endurance is slow and steady improvement. If you consistently run a little farther or a little longer each time you run, or make each run a little faster, you’ll see a steady improvement in your endurance.
Hit the Gym
Conventional wisdom used to state that endurance athletes should look to avoid “gym training” for fear that it would lead to building heavy, bulky muscles which would, in turn, be a detriment to endurance performance.
While you don’t want to pack on massive muscles, going to the gym is important for runners who want to increase their endurance as it can actually help improve your athletic performance.
A series of studies on elite endurance athletes, including a research study on the Danish national cyclists team, have shown that performing a training regiment consisting of heavy load strength training can improve performance. This is due to a reduction of body fat as well as an increase in the recruitment of type II muscle fiber strength which results in greater speed and the ability to sustain higher work rates with more efficient oxygen use.
High Intensity Interval Training
Add high intensity interval training (HIIT) to your running routine. Interval training has been shown to improve an athlete’s VO2max. VO2max is considered the body’s upper limit for consuming, distributing and using oxygen for energy production. The more oxygen you can take in, the longer you can exercise without wearing down.
In fact, some studies suggest that HIIT may be a more efficient method of improving VO2max. A study by Daussin et al. in 2008 effectively showed that VO2max increases were higher in the group that performed HIIT as opposed to the group that were in a continuous training program.
Adding HIIT to your programming can be as easy as running stairs, running hard for one minute and easy for two, or even just running hard to random objects you see followed by periods of less intense running. Get creative with your intervals. The only rules are that you have to get your heart rate up during the intense interval and make sure you give yourself enough time to recover after.
Listen to Music
Sometimes it’s not our body holding us back, it’s our head. Even if your lungs and legs could handle going that extra mile, your mind might be telling you that you can’t. Some studies have shown that music can help people run faster, longer and help them keep pushing on during difficult workout sessions.
Get More Rest
Your muscles need to be fresh if you want to run long and hard. If you push yourself too hard multiple days in a row you’re asking for an injury, and you can’t build endurance while you’re injured
Make sure you get adequate rest between intense workouts. Your body needs time to recover.
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