6 Ways to Increase Running Endurance and Stamina


How to increase endurance running is a common running goal that can be achieved by ANY runner will to follow a few simple guidelines. Running improvements are often far less complicated than we like to make them: easy runs, strength, mental training, eating enough…patience.

Challenges never end with running and that’s part of what keeps us coming back.

Why can you crush 5 miles, but not 6? Why do you fly through 10 miles, but need two weeks to recover from 13? This is the weird world of learning how your body handles increasing endurance through breakdowns and build ups.

What is endurance?

Let’s start with what is endurance. As stated by the dictionary:

1. the fact or power of enduring or bearing pain, hardships, etc.
2. the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions
3. lasting quality; duration:
4. something endured, as a hardship; trial.

That description might sound a little harsh, but that’s the reality. Endurance running is a process of embracing discomfort.

Not the I want to vomit discomfort of track sprints, but the “am I still going? why can’t I feel my toes?” discomfort of increased time in your shoes.

Let’s discover how to increase stamina for running to help you get through 5K or 26.2.

How to Increase Running Endurance

Some of these tips for increasing running endurance will sound like no-brainers, but you aren’t doing them or you wouldn’t be emailing me in utter frustration every week, so read them anyways!

Since I love this topic so much I’ve covered it in video and detailed below.

Let me know which way is most helpful to you, so I can keep creating the content you need!

#1 Learn How to Run EASY

You need to get in more time on your feet and the only way that will happen is by lowering your fatigue in the early miles to allow you to go farther later.

Learning how to run farther is often first about learning how to truly run easy.

One of the best tools for this is Low Heart Rate training, which I have talked about extensively.

The basic idea is to build a base of aerobic fitness which allows you to continue running farther without raising your heart rate, which is what taxes the body and slows down recovery when we do it repeatedly for long distances.

  • Stop paying attention to the pace on your watch
  • Start paying attention to your effort level
  • Hot, humid running will feel harder and you will need to slow down more
  • Some days in running simply feel easier or harder, using perceived effort allows you to continue building every day by adjusting your pace and getting in a good run.
  • Allowing your runs to start feeling easier also makes is mentally easier to try going farther.

Once you break through a mileage barrier where you’ve been stuck your brain and body will open up to the possibilities.

#2 Don’t Be Afraid to Walk

Believe that walking and being a runner aren’t compatible? Real runners don’t walk??

Or do they?! This is not about run-walk intervals. This is about adding walking to your routine, which does so much for allowing your body to get used to more time on your feet!

Running along side one of the speediest man I’d ever met, I was shocked when he told me his very expensive coach ordered him to start more walking AFTER finishing long runs. Validation that all my walking is more than just free transportation!

Does walking help running endurance?

Let’s look at why I’ve found it so helpful:

  • Walking builds endurance {consider it extra credit training}
  • More time on your feet during training ensures you are race ready even after the expo and site exploring on race weekend
  • One can walk much further than they can run
  • It utilizes the same muscles without the impact
  • Walking eases low back pain {an issue of many desk jockeys}
  • Walking strengthens your feet
  • Walking large hills activates the glutes without the heart rate raising intensity

Adding some walking to your routine might just help you run farther and faster by building leg strength, increasing lung capacity, reducing stress and burning extra calories.running stamina

Easy ways to do this are to add a mile of walking to the end of a run, take a lunch time walk or grab the family for an evening walk.

#3 Add in Speed Work Appropriately

Getting faster and running longer at the same time is not an ideal pairing. Instead, we’re focusing on how to use speed to help build a stronger running body, which will then make those easy miles feel even better which helps with stamina (so much of running is mental).

What about a lot more speed?

If you don’t have time for a lot of miles and you really like intense workouts, checkout the Hanson Plan, which is all about using less frequent, but more intense runs.

Under this method, you aren’t training with long runs, but instead using those intense short runs, to allow you to run much farther on race day by simply slowing down.

In this method you are building endurance by going hard on shorter runs, which then can make a longer run feel easier when you slow down.

#4 Include Strength Training

One of the reasons I so love hill workouts is because it creates leg strength and encourages better running form.

You have to drive your knee up, rather than over extending the leg to make it up the hill. These two pieces together improve endurance and injury prevention.

But strength training in the gym is also really important. Here our focus is less on cardio building and more on building the power in your glutes to propel you forward and the stability in your core to maintain good form. A strong core will aid your running endurance!

Feel like your distance running has plateaued? Find out how to increase endurance #running Click To Tweet

#5 Beat Running Boredom

This one rarely enters my mind, but I hear it so often “how do you keep going, I just get so bored!

Of course you aren’t going to keep pushing the distance if it’s boring and why would you? A few ways to make it more interesting:

  • Running in new places, while actually paying attention to what’s around you
  • Try trail running – this will also help your endurance when back on the roads
  • Practice my treadmill boredom beaters
  • Ask friends to run with you
  • Join a running group
  • Don’t try to run daily, mix in other cross training activities
  • Listen to audiobooks or podcasts instead of music

#6 Set Manageable Distance Goals

Maybe one of the reasons you aren’t increasing your distance is the goals you set…are you trying to go from one mile to your first 10K and feeling like you’ve signed up to climb Mount Everest?

Stop focusing on the ultimate goal and look at today’s goal.

Today you simply need to go one step farther than you did yesterday and it’s a success, you’ve officially improved your running stamina.

Those little steps add up, stop discounting them! Minus Dean Karnazes, few of us head on our first run and conquer the world.

We do it little by little.
Consistently showing up.
Embracing the bad runs.
Believing we can.

That’s right, as much as running is about getting your lungs, heart and legs on board, it’s all a bust if you don’t get your brain in the game.

How to Increase Running Stamina?

The process of improving our running stamina is outlined in the 6 tips from learning to run easy to adding in strength.

These are some of the additional common questions that I’ve received from runners over the years around their specific training.

Truly, I cannot recommend enough getting access to a coach when you’re in the process of building so that you can do it safely….and not waste time on mistakes that cause injuries. You can even join our Virtual Run Club!

Increase Running Endurance

How can I run longer without getting tired?

It’s a process of incorporating all of the techniques listed above. You need to allow your muscles to get stronger through the right workouts, you need to back off the pace to give your body longer energy, you need to mentally jump some hurdles and it will happen.

So maybe there isn’t really a secret at all, it’s just about showing up day after day and putting in a little more time on your feet without being so focused on your watch.

How can I increase my running speed and stamina?

You need a solid training plan that covers at least 16 weeks when trying to work on both aspects of running at the same time.

The first goal is increasing your endurance through the longer runs, which helps your muscles, joints and bones adapt to the pounding.

Once you’ve established a solid base, while also doing the strength training, it’s time to start incorporating speed (use the outline above). You may drop your miles a little in the first weeks of adding speed and then begin to ramp them back up while maintaining the speed work.

In general, most training plans keep speed work to 20% of the total mileage for the week to prevent marathon training fatigue and injuries.

What should I eat to increase my stamina for running?

There are two components to eating for running: enough high quality food to improve recovery and enough fuel on long runs to prevent bonking.

Eating enough sounds simple, but undereating due to a weight loss goal is a common issue which leads to a lot of problems. And of course, we aren’t talking about just eating tons of bagels, we need NUTRIENTS. Checkout this article to help you figure out how much runners need to eat.

When it comes to fueling for your runs this really becomes a focus once they start to be over an hour for new runners or over 90 minutes for experienced runners.

And finally, should you run everyday to increase your endurance.

No.

Here’s why I don’t think the majority of runners should run daily.

Instead, checkout how often should I run to see where you fall in terms of experience and goals.

What helped you increase your distance?

What’s your current distance goal?

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