Cardio • 15.06.2017 • Runtastic Team

How to Increase
Your Stamina and Endurance

Sometime in the future, a distance you find challenging now will feel easy. When that happens, it means you’ve increased your running stamina. I’m not saying a marathon will ever feel easy, but one day you’ll look back and notice that what you find challenging now will come much easier. An increase in running stamina comes from consistency, that means running multiple times per week for multiple weeks to accumulate fitness – there are no quick fixes if you want to increase running stamina. It’s generally accepted that it takes 10 days to 4 weeks to benefit from a run. The time will depend on the type of run, quicker and more intense runs being on the lower end of the range with long steady runs being on the other higher end of the range.

Man running on the beach

Before you begin working on increasing your running stamina, you need to make an honest assessment of your current aerobic base and build on that. Whether you’re a new runner looking to complete their first 5k or an experienced runner looking to increase their stamina for the final stages of the marathon and avoid hitting the wall, the rule of ‘too much too soon’ always holds true, doing too much too soon only leads to injury or overtraining.

1. Be consistent

To increase your aerobic capacity and be able to run further than you can now, you need to train consistently. Consistent training will build your aerobic base, increase your aerobic capacity (which is how much oxygen your muscles can use) and strengthen your muscles. When you begin to add extra runs to your week, they should be easy and slow – speed follows endurance! You should aim for 3 to 4 sessions per week for 30 minutes or more. Aim to make one of these sessions your long run where you plan to go further than any of your other runs that week.

Did you know?

Consistency is key to building your running stamina.

2. Run long

To run further, you’re going to have to actually run further! Either increase your long run by 5 – 10 minutes or add 0.5 – 1 mile each time – it might not sound like much but it begins to add up. When you get into a bigger volume of training for a half marathon or marathon, your long run should be roughly 30 – 50% of your total distance for the week. Do your long run at a slow and sustainable pace; many people try to run their long run too fast and struggle to finish strong. Go slow and just focus on covering the distance. Remember, speed follows endurance.

Tip:

Go slow and just focus on covering the distance.

3. Tempo Runs

These runs are normally run over a shorter distance, but at a higher pace than at which you normally train. Training like this trains your body to clear lactic acid from the bloodstream quicker, which means you can run longer before fatigue and lactic acid builds up and slows you down. It will also make your easy running pace or planned race pace feel easier – these runs are the key to improving your running speed. Tempo runs should be a ‘comfortably hard’ pace that lasts from 20 – 40 minutes and up to 60 minutes for more advanced runners. They should not be an all-out effort that has you gasping for breath, but a challenging pace that you feel you can maintain over the duration of the run.

Someone running upstairs

4. Eat for endurance

That means carbs! As a runner, you should focus on carbs making 55% – 65% of your calorie intake from carbs. You don’t need to eat a mountain of pasta at every meal, but be mindful of your carb intake to make sure it’s complimentary to your training. Before your long run, it’s key to have a carb-based meal to ensure you have enough energy to cover the distance. If you find yourself tired, in a low mood or unable to complete your planned runs, then increase your carbs. Always go for complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, brown rice and oatmeal instead of refined carbs and sugary foods that will spike your blood sugar (a spike is always followed by your blood sugar crashing).

5. Recover

The further you run, the more you’re challenging yourself and therefore need to ensure your body is recovering between sessions. Good recovery comes from a good diet, stretching and sufficient sleep. Aim to eat a quality meal or snack of carbs and protein within 30 minutes after finishing your run. This is the optimal window of recovery where your body can best absorb the nutrients to refuel and recover with. Focusing on this will enable you to recover between sessions and go into each run feeling strong and able to complete it.

6. Work on your running economy

Working on your running technique will make you a more efficient runner. If you run efficiently, you will be able to run further without feeling as tired as you will use less energy. Good technique comes from running tall (imagine a string holding you up), ensuring your foot lands under your center of gravity and a cadence of around 170 – 180 steps per minute. If you have weight to lose, then losing extra weight will also help your running economy since you will be lighter.

Woman running outside

7. Mind games

Running further than you ever have before can be daunting, but you can do it! Mentally preparing yourself for your longest run of the week will make it easier. Some ways to make a long run seem less daunting are to break it down to 1 mile at a time, or to treat it as 2 x a distance you can run easily, or 1x a distance you can do with a little bit more added on – a 10k with a slow 3k added on already sounds less scary than running 13k.
We hope this helps you increase your running stamina and help you run further than before! Let us know what running topics you’d like us to cover in future posts by leaving a comment below.

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Author bio:

Jonathan Meadows

Jonathan is the social media manager at Runtastic. He is a keen marathon runner with a person record of 3:02. Jonathan likes to read about new fitness trends and ways to constantly improve himself and is always up for a challenge.

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Runtastic Team

Are you looking to lose some weight, get more active or improve your sleep? The Runtastic Team gives you useful tips and inspiration to reach your personal goals.


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  • Hello Jonathan,
    Thanks for your email via R-Pro..
    I’m 53 now. I was trying to enhance my running stamina, but couldn’t much. But I could definitely do same for Sun Salutations. I raised my stamina from doing 10-12 to 108 in one go, that is one hour almost.
    But I still have strong desire to RUN at least 5k continuously. Your TIPS will be surely useful.
    Warm Regards & Thank you.

  • Runtastic Team

    Great question. You’re already doing speed work in your training which is good. Another approach would be to run 1km slow, 1km fast x 3 to make 6km. Then do a slower 5k run the day after this one to recover. Then try to add in another run in the week that’s a steady, even pace for about 6km to 7km. Then run your 10km at a steady, even pace too – which should naturally come quicker. This style of training will improve your speed and increasing your aerobic base. Hope this helps!

    • RaikNaSeem

      Thanks!!

  • Runtastic Team

    Hi Gerald, thank you for your comment! Maybe this article is interesting for you: https://www.runtastic.com/blog/en/nutrition/optimal-performance-the-9-best-foods-for-runners/

    Your Runtastic Team

  • Kain Putih

    Thanks jonathon.

  • V Karthikeyan

    Sir I am running 4 km daily, how should I increase kilometers, then weekly 1 day hitting for maximum like 10 or excess kilometers will be preferable to me ?

    • Runtastic Team

      Just be patient 😉 You can do it!

  • Stefanos

    Good job
    Stefanos fygetakis
    NRC Athens coach

  • Banga Vicki

    hi i want to complete 1600m in 5:30minutes please suggest me how should i prepare for that?

  • Sylvia Dovaston

    Booked in to rum 14km in March 2018. Have only ever run 5km and 7km once each without walking. I look forward to the challenge but it’s a bit scary at the same time.

    • Runtastic Team

      You can do it 🙂

  • Mat

    Any tips to prepare for a 100km race in 40 days? long joggings (45min-1hour +) every other day and once a week a 2hour run?

  • Kingsly V. Bacus

    i run once a week every weekend for 30mins. with average pace of 7km/min. is this a good running habbit. im still heavy weight but i feel ligher hen i run…should i inrease my running days?

    • Runtastic Team

      Hi there, can you tell us what your height and weight is? How long have you been running? It would be ideal if you add swimming, biking or walking to your training.
      If you feel fit enough to run, we recommend 2 running days per week: One slow run and one interval run with alternating intensity.

      Have you tried the Runtastic training plans yet?

      Stay motivated 🙂
      Your Runtastic Team

  • RAJESH MANDHANI

    I am running one 10km long Run per week and extra one or two short run of 3 to 5 km per week from last two months . I have to run after 30 days a half marathon. Age:50 yrs. please guide how to schedule for next 30 days

  • sourav tudu

    Sir i have 4 days left for my 5 km run in an event .and i am a new runner .i am running from a week and i can run 5 km but in a slow speed .so suggest me to increase my running speed .so what i would do to improve my aerobic base also

    • Runtastic Team

      Hey there, have you tried our tips for increasing your stamina and endurance yet? Good luck for your running event!

  • sourav tudu

    Yes sir i have tried ur tips and thnx

  • Joyce Mupasiri

    Tips very practical and motivating

  • Daniele Willie

    My feet are my downfall. They often start cramping up 15 minutes into a run. Sometimes I force myself to run through the discomfort and after a while the cramping goes but what causes the cramping in the first place? How can I get rid of that?

  • Svorai

    Useful tips indeed. Love it.

  • Shashank Sharma

    What should i do for increase short sprints speed

  • Abdullahi Inuwa Jibrin

    Hi,I run 4km 5days a week.My aim is to run a half marathon but I find really difficult to add more mms.

    • Deepak Paliwal

      Try to include some 50m 10 times sprint or 100m 5 times sprint on alternate days after running for 2 or 3 kms.

  • Ismail Khalid

    Hey! Im a soccer player, i run about 7-8 km almost everday because of which i think i have a stress fracture in my left tibia bone. What should i do now?

    • Runtastic Team

      Please visit your doctor!

  • Poonam Jadhav

    I walk alternate day 8k in 73min now I want to start running…my goal is to complete 10k in 56 min….im right now looking my weight …so I’m on low carb diet…high on proteins and fats…plz guide me

  • Ruchi Jain Khajanchi

    hi,

    I am running half marathon in Jan 18. I run 3 days a week but max have gone is 10kms. I still feel I need to build more stamina. How should I go about it.

    Regards
    Ruchi