When I first started running, it took me years to believe that running didn’t always feel “hard”. I would run a mile at a time, try to run fast, and finish feeling like I could not run another step. This left me very discouraged. After a few weeks or months, I’d head outside and try again, only to wind up feeling exactly the same. Looking back on my running journey, I can now see that I was doing everything wrong. There was no way I would ever be able to increase my running endurance using these scattered tactics.
I eventually figured this out, and once I did, I began to see that increasing my running endurance was actually quite simple. As my running endurance began to improve, my eyes were opened to all the possibilities that lie before me.
Building running endurance is one of the biggest struggles for beginner runners and anyone looking to make a comeback. That initial running motivation is quickly stripped away when we find that our improvements have plateaued. When your progress becomes stagnant, it begins to feel like your running endurance will never increase. Each run feels hard and forced, and long distance running sounds like an impossible feat.
Despite these challenges, building your running stamina does eventually begin to get easier. Adding distance to your long run slowly becomes a weekly thing, and suddenly the door is open and it feels as though you can accomplish anything.
So how do you get to this point?
Increasing your running endurance doesn’t have to feel so disheartening. If you’ve tried and failed to boost your running stamina many times (like I used to), you may be missing some key tactics. These 5 secrets will help you improve your running endurance not just easily – but quickly as well.
5 Secrets to Increase Your Running Endurance Quickly
The biggest secret to build running endurance isn’t a secret at all, but rather, something we’ve all heard before: consistency. Your running endurance will never improve if you run sporadically, never frequently enough to give your body time to adapt. Running consistently doesn’t have to mean running hard workouts every day of the week. It could mean getting outside two days a week for 30 minute workouts, or every other day for just a few miles. Staying consistent provides your body the time to adapt, gradually making running feel easier. It doesn’t take long either – after just a few runs you will notice a significant increase in your running stamina.
Run longer by taking walk breaks.
It’s no secret that running farther than you ever have before will feel challenging the first time. Pushing your own personal limits is part of the fun in running. Increase your running distance slowly each week, and take walk breaks when you need it. 6 miles is still 6 miles whether you run the entire thing, or walk for a two minutes every mile. Increase your longest run distance gradually over time by taking walk breaks when you need to. Eventually your body will adapt to the longer distances, and your running endurance will increase due to the extra time spent on your feet.
Related: How to Have Your Best Long Run Ever
Add cross training: plyometrics and HIIT workouts.
Increasing your running distance too quickly or frequently will often lead to injury. So how do we boost our running endurance quickly when we can’t add miles every day? The answer: cross training. Incorporating some plyometrics or HIIT workouts on your off days will improve your cardiovascular fitness more quickly, strengthening your lungs and heart so your next run feels easier. Incorporate some at home bodyweight workouts or plyometric strength moves to make the most out of off days and increase your heart rate.
Follow a plan.
Feeling overwhelmed often leads us to quit, give up, or procrastinate on our goals. Running actually does get easier, but it takes a little bit of time and effort to get there. Research different running plans, or create a schedule for yourself. Print out your running schedule and stick it to the fridge so you can see it every day. Knowing what is directly up ahead makes longer runs feel more manageable, as we can see the steps we’ll need to take to get there. Building running stamina doesn’t happen overnight, so give it time, follow a plan, and watch as your running endurance begins to improve.
Focus on speed only once per week.
One of the biggest pitfalls of running motivation is that it often leaves us wanting to do too much, too soon. As a beginner runner, it’s easy to feel like you want to get faster and run farther right away. As you begin to focus on increasing your running endurance, remember that running longer is your goal. Speed will come naturally once you have built a solid running base, but until then, remind yourself that it is not your focus. Designate one day per week to focus on running “fast” during your run, and force yourself to slow down and enjoy the ride on the others.
Trying anything for the first time is a little scary and often very challenging – and running is no different. Whether you’re a brand new runner, or hoping to train for a long distance race, increasing your running endurance is a must. Use these 5 secrets to boost your running stamina, and before you know it you’ll be running farther with ease. Powering through the difficult moments is what make the successes even sweeter. Persevere, stay consistent, and walk if you need to. Running is a wonderful sport, and there is nothing like the first moment when you feel like you can run forever. Building your running endurance is one of the greatest things you will ever do for your body and mind alike.