If you’ve ever tried running, you’ll know how it becomes easier the more you practice. This means that you’ve increased your stamina. Runners always have goals, like finishing a marathon, improving your time, or simply running for longer.
All of these goals require building endurance beforehand. But, how do you improve your stamina in the first place? Whether you’ve just completed your first 5K or have run several marathons, increasing your stamina involves the same techniques.
Keep reading, as we’ll get into what stamina is within this article. We’ll also cover the main ways that can help you increase your running capacity. With these in mind, you should notice a difference in how well you run.
What Is Stamina?
The term stamina refers to having enough energy to carry out a challenging activity for extended periods. To increase your running stamina, you’ll have to change some of your body’s biological functions. Better stamina involves the following:
- Improving the rate of oxygen uptake from the lungs into the bloodstream
- Boosting the amount of blood that the muscles take up each minute
- Making the body better at converting stored glycogen into energy
- Improving how well the body removes exercise byproducts (lactic acid, carbon dioxide, water)
Increasing your stamina also requires knowing what homeostasis entails. This term refers to how the body maintains every single one of its systems, keeping them in working order. As you exercise, you’re exceeding your body’s current limits.
To keep the body in homeostasis, it proceeds by increasing muscle size, improving heart rate, and improving lung capacity. This prepares the body for the next time you exercise at that intensity, so it can carry out the activity more efficiently.
As you practice regularly, you’ll feel better about taking on demanding exercise levels. If you reach this stage, you’ll have improved your stamina.
How To Build Stamina
Whether you’re trying to perform better on your everyday run, or are preparing for a marathon, several ways can help improve your running stamina
Concentrate on exposing your body to various types of exercise, as this can help you feel better when running challenging distances. Here are some methods that can help:
The main tip for improving your stamina and endurance involves regular training. Running in on and off periods won’t help your body adapt. A consistent schedule will help improve oxygen uptake by the muscles, make the muscles stronger, and improve your overall fitness.
Try adding some more runs to your current routine, but make sure that these aren’t difficult. At this point, your focus should be on endurance, not speed. You need to make sure your body can handle regular runs before you start trying to improve your time.
Run at a slow and easy pace for at least 30 minutes, making sure that you train 3-4 times a week.
Don’t take on too much too soon, or you’ll get discouraged from training. Remember, consistency is key. Take on as much as you can handle, and you’ll be more likely to stick with your training.
Go Longer And Farther
As before, train 3-4 times a week, but make one of these sessions a distance run. If you want to run greater distances, you’ll have to practice doing so. Go as slow as necessary, but make sure you take on more miles than any of your other sessions.
Try to improve with each long session. Either run for an extra half a mile or try running for an additional 5-10 minutes. Over time, these small increments will add up, and you’ll be impressed with how far you have come.
If you’re training for an event, like a half or full marathon, your long run should cover 30-50% of the distance run that week.
Always run your longer session at a slower pace. Several runners fail long distances as they try to run too fast. This uses up most of their energy, so they can’t keep running and struggle to make it to the end.
Don’t think about the time, concentrate on finishing the whole distance instead. You can start focusing on your time once you improve your endurance.
Try Tempo Runs
Several long-distance runners use tempo runs as a method of improving their stamina. These are lower-distance runs that are run at a faster pace than you usually train. The idea is to aim for 90% of your normal racing speed.
This should be challenging, but not impossible. This pace helps the body get rid of all the lactic acid it makes while you run, so you won’t be sore. If you were going at a maximum speed, your body won’t be able to remove the lactic acid, and it will be too painful to continue running.
Tempo runs will also help your normal running pace feel more comfortable. Tempo runs should last from 20-40 minutes, though more experienced runners can go up to an hour.
The run should feel comfortable, but difficult. You shouldn’t be gasping for breath every second, but maintaining deep, even breaths. Stick to a pace that you can keep holding for the whole run, but do ensure that it isn’t too easy.
This may need a bit of trial and error once you first start, but it should be easier to find your tempo run pace the more you practice.
Many runners have used interval training as a means of improving their endurance. As the name suggests, interval training involves switching between low-intensity and high-intensity exercises over a designated time.
There are many styles of interval training to choose from, like Tabata training, traditional intervals, or pyramid drills. Here’s a straightforward interval workout that can help improve your running stamina.
You’ll need to find an area with a hill before you do this.
- Look for a hill with a gentle climb. The incline should roughly be 100 meters.
- Take 15 minutes to warm your body up by making your way up the hill. Switch between walking at a quick pace one minute, then a gentle jog the next. Once the warm-up is done, move back to the bottom of the hill.
- Begin the workout by sprinting 100 meters up the hill.
- Stop running, then walk gently back to base.
- Repeat the sprints three times.
- Take 10 minutes to cool down and stretch your muscles.
It’s surprising how many runners don’t implement some form of resistance training in their routine. Weight training builds muscle, which makes you stronger.
If your legs and core are stronger, you’ll run faster and cover long distances easier. Stronger muscles also make you less injury-prone. Try to weight train for at least one day each week.
You’re not training for hypertrophy as bodybuilders do. Instead, focus on compound workouts that improve overall strength. Compound exercises use more than one muscle group at a time. With a lower rep range, these will make you stronger, but not bulkier.
These include squats, lunges, deadlifts, and kettlebell swings. Always choose a weight that is challenging, but not too heavy. The last rep should be hard, but not impossible.
Do remember that weight lifting can make you stiff if you don’t stretch. Stiff muscles can affect how well you run, so include some flexibility exercises in your routine.
Cycling And Skipping
Runners can easily get bored if they don’t include any other exercises in their training. The same routine may work out some muscles, but leaves others out. Taking on other exercises can make you a better runner, as you’ll condition other muscles in your body.
Cycling is one of the best exercises you can do as a runner. Running can be hard on your body, but cycling works out your legs without placing large stresses on your joints. You’ll make your legs stronger and capable of running longer distances in the future.
If you use an exercise bike, you can set the resistance to more challenging levels and note down your progress. Skipping is another plyometric exercise that you can do anywhere. All you need is a rope! The aim is to keep your feet off the ground for as long as you can.
If you challenge yourself to skip for longer, you’ll start building endurance. Start with 100 skips and work your way up to 1000, without stopping.
Eat The Right Food
Don’t be scared of carbs! If you run regularly, carbs should make up at least 50% of your nutrient intake. This doesn’t mean solely eating bread and pasta, but do make sure that you’re fueled well enough for training.
This rings especially true before your long run. You need more energy in your system to manage the lengthy distance, so always have a carb-based meal beforehand. If you’re normally in a low mood or find that you can’t finish your runs, eat more carbohydrates.
Swap refined carbs like white bread and junk food for complex ones, like brown rice and oatmeal. Sugar and refined carbs will only increase your blood sugar. These are followed by a sugar crash, where you feel low, irritable, and tired.
Improving your stamina means that you’ll be trying to challenge your body regularly. Your body needs to rest adequately between your training sessions.
Recovery involves good nutrition, enough sleep, and flexibility exercises. After your next run, eat a balanced meal or have a snack within the next half an hour. The first 30 minutes after your run is the optimal recovery window.
During this time, any nutrients you consume will be absorbed by the body and used for recovery. If you prioritize this, you’ll notice that your runs feel easier and more comfortable.
Improving your stamina can be an intimidating choice, as it means challenging yourself to take on greater distances. It’s important to remind yourself that you are capable of succeeding.
Do some mental work before your longest run so that you aren’t discouraged. Some try reducing their run into block periods. For example, you could halve the distance and concentrate on finishing the first half, then the next one.
Or, you could focus on completing one mile at a time, though this may be difficult if you have a lot of miles under your belt. Whatever mental preparation you choose, make sure that it suits your personality and goals.