6 Steps to Improved Running Endurance and Stamina
When people think of endurance and stamina, they tend to focus on are cardio activities like running or cycling. But that’s only part of the equation—you also need to improve your strength. The added muscle also helps absorb the impact that would otherwise put stress on your joints.
Are you a long runner who needs to build your cardio performance for those (half) marathons? Or perhaps you are new to running, and you are focused on conquering your first mile or two. Whatever your performance level—we’ll show you how to increase running endurance and stamina.
Do You Need Endurance or Stamina?
First, let’s clarify a few things. Stamina vs. Endurance discussions frequently include two errors.
- The first is to use these terms interchangeably.
- The second is on how to enhance each one.
Stamina is the capacity of maintaining prolonged stressful effort. To put it plainly, runners’ stamina is the capacity to handle a particular pace (stressful effort) over a particular distance, while endurance is the capacity to work out at a certain intensity for a long period of time (hello, marathon!). For runners, endurance is the capacity to run long distances, while stamina allows them to calibrate their pace and handle effort successfully.
How do you improve running endurance and stamina?
Step #1: Use Interval Training
There are a few advantages to interval training that will help you get the most out of your runs, and increase your stamina.
Enhance cardiovascular capacity. Endurance running can take the wind out of you. By performing interval training, you’ll build anaerobic limit (oxygen-draining) in your muscles. Furthermore, when you join this with aerobic capacity (oxygen-building with long runs and easy workouts), these will make you even quicker.
Step #2: Cross Train to Increase Your Running Stamina
Include weight training in your running schedule. Weight training builds your running economy, which means that you use oxygen more efficiently during your workouts. Try doing free weights, machines or other strength training activities 3 times per week.
Perform high-powered bicycle intervals. Pedaling and accelerating on a high-tension exercise bike setting works your leg muscles considerably more than running uphill, without the negative effect on your joints.
Swim a few laps. You can either swim as a break after a tough or long run or simply incorporate some swimming to change up your schedule. Swimming offers the added advantage of working your abdominal area and upper body muscles, which can be underdeveloped in many runners.
Step #3: Increase Your Mileage
Breaking a performance plateau requires a lot of effort. At some point you’ll need to increase your running mileage to reach your true potential. To be a good runner, you need to run a lot. Alternative training can help cross any barrier, particularly for injury-prone runners, but you can’t plant potatoes and harvest carrots. You have to run more.
Increase your mileage by 10% per week. The peak mileage you pick depends on the race you would like to complete.
Step #4: Build Running Endurance by Increasing Lactate Threshold
An important piece of the endurance puzzle is the runner’s lactate threshold, known as the level of effort at which lactate collects in the muscle cells. Fortunately, any runner can enhance both of these measures. Endurance athletes frequently have a higher number of slow twitch muscle fibers, which allows sports activities like running by using oxygen in a smarter way to produce more energy. Long runs are the only way to boost the slow-twitch muscle fibers. Also, practicing long distance workouts can help convert fast-twitch muscle fibers to slow-twitch muscles.
Remember, long runs mixed with high intensity interval training (HIIT) will boost both your running endurance and stamina.
Step #5: Work on what’s Weak
Most athletes – pro or amateur – regularly find their “fitness corner” and stick to it. The best way to improve endurance is to blend your workouts: marathoners should deal with speed, and flat-landers should stomp those slopes. Reaching your true potential means working on your weak points.
Step #6: Sleep, Rest and Eat
Rest up. To run hard and for long distances, athletes require fresh, well-rested muscles. Just go hard on hard days and go easy on easy days.
Never run hard on consecutive days – take sufficient rest. Be fresh and you will run the distance.
Eat right. In the matter of proper nutrition, carbohydrates are key, given the fact that your body uses glycogen for fuel in every physical activity. Once this fuel runs out, the body starts burning energy from fat. When doing long runs, consume 40-50 grams of carbohydrates per hour, depending on body weight. Many studies have also discovered that a blend of carbohydrates and protein can improve endurance performance and diminish muscle damage. Experiment to find the right mix for you.
Remember: improve your cardiovascular system to build endurance and stamina. Stamina comes from building those muscles to manage the demands put on them. You can improve endurance and stamina with different sorts of activity, for example, running for cardio development and strength training for muscular improvement.
Do interval training, cross train, increase your mileage, increase lactate threshold, work on your weak spots and rest.