If you are looking for some of the best ways and strategies to help you boost your running stamina, then you’re in the right place.
Today, dear reader, I’m gonna be sharing with you some of my favorite and well-tested endurance building guidelines that will help you become the best runner you can be.
So, are you ready?
Then here we go.
The Golden Rule – Take it One Step At a Time
When it comes to building stamina (and fitness for that matter), the gradual approach is the way to go.
In fact, this is the overarching rule of fitness building. This is all about the patient, consistent and slow build up.
It’s the smart thing to do—whether you are just starting out, or have been around the block for quite some time.
It applies to everything and everyone. The beginner taking up running for the first time, as well as the elite marathoner training for a sub 3-hour marathon.
1. The Run Walk Method
This is for you beginners out there. You have to be extremely careful if you are just starting out.
If you are a complete running newbie, then be sure to start on the right foot, if you are serious about warding off injury and/or overtraining.
In my experience, the best way to get started is to opt for the run/walk method.
Here is how to proceed on your first few workouts:
After 10-minute brisk walk, alternate between 30 seconds of running at an easy pace and 30 seconds to one full minute of walking for recovery.
As you get fitter, aim to increase the time you spend running while taking less and less recovery until you can run straight for at least 25 to 30 minutes without much huffing and puffing.
Still need more run/walk guidelines?
Then check these three in-depth posts:
Once you can run for at least a half an hour without much hassle, then, and only then, start increasing your mileage.
Once you can run for at least a half an hour without much hassle, then, and only then, start increasing your mileage.
Whoa! Stop there.
Just don’t get ahead of yourself here.
The safest way to increase mileage is to follow the 10 percent rule.
Well, it’s quite simple. Never increase your weekly running mileage by more than 10 percent from one week to the next.
Once you get your head around this simple rule as a beginner, you ‘ll be set on the right path.
Keep increasing your mileage this way for at least two to three months. Then stop it, and switch to building speed.
2. Interval Training
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few years, then you must be familiar with interval training and its benefits.
Comprised of quick bouts of intense exercise, interval training can boost your endurance and stamina when combined with traditional running training (think easy runs, tempo runs, and long runs).
In fact, recent studies have hailed interval training as the closest thing to a miracle when it comes to achieving optimum fitness.
Thus, if you are serious about giving your endurance a nudge, give interval training a try.
Interval distance can range between 100m to a mile or more, depending on your running goals and fitness level, of course.
Just be careful here. If you are just starting out, then interval training will be like something you have never done before.
And they will push you out of your comfort zone within seconds of doing them.
If you are not careful, sprints will leave you doubled over in real pain and panting for air.
Where to Do Them
You can perform interval training workout along with a set loop or, preferably on track. Just whatever you do, make sure it’s a smooth, flat surface.
No trails, please.
Here is the complete guide you need for high-intensity interval training.
Head to the local track, then after performing a 10-minute throughout warm up, do 8 to 10 200m sprints at your maximum speed, taking at least 30-second to one minute between each rep.
Last up, finish the workout with a cool down.
Or, if you want more, perform the same workout, but on a hilly surface, opting for a challenging hill with a 6 to 8 percent grade.
It should take you no more than 20 to 30 seconds to reach the top of the hill at top speed.
This is all about going for a set distance, set the pace, then repeated for a set number of times.
3. Perform Yasso 800s
Yasso 800s is a simple method for increasing stamina—especially if you are planning on tackling a marathon distance.
Yasso 800s consists of performing hard 800m run intervals with jogging recoveries, lasting to one minute or more. This workout structure was made famous by Bart Yasso, a Runners World editor, and it’s quite famous among runners who are after specific marathon goals.
Good news is, you can also use this workout method to increase your endurance, even if running a marathon is not on the agenda
Please perform this workout on the track, so you can easily measure the 800m distance. That’s roughly two laps around a standard track.
Also, you can do these on a treadmill.
But as a general guideline, feel free to perform them wherever it’s possible as long as you have a way of measuring how fast and far you are going.
After a 10-minute thorough warm-up, run an 800-meter at a challenging pace. This can be a tempo pace.
Next, recover by jogging slowly for one to two minute, then repeat.
If you are a beginner, then with no more than four sets per session. Add more as you get stronger and fitter.
But remember to stay within your fitness level the entire time.
Yes. Now you can call me yourself a runner. Maybe you already do.
But that does not mean that you no longer have to hit the weight room.
In fact, if you are an avid reader of my blog (you are, right?), then you already know that I’m a strong advocate of weight lifting for runners.
In fact, I believe it’s the best complement for your outdoor workouts.
For more on the benefits of strength training for a runner, check my post here and here.
So how does weight lifting boost endurance?
It’s quite simple.
A regular strength routine can help you strengthen key running muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones—all of which can help improve your running efficiency and total body endurance.
The Training guidelines you need
In my experience, here are some of the useful guidelines you need to make the most out of your resistance training program as a runner.
First and foremost, do plenty of compound moves.
Also known as multi-joint exercise, total body moves, such as the squat, deadlift, push-ups and step-up—recruit a lot of muscles, thus can help you improve overall strength and endurance better than classic isolation exercises—think bicep curls, leg extensions, calf raises and the like.
And the more muscles you can simultaneously work during a given exercise, the more it will fire up and stimulate the cardiovascular system—leading to an improved stamina in the process.
Please perform these compound movements with at least 30 to 60 second of rest between each exercise.
Lift Fast and Intense
For more, you can so lift weight at an extremely fast pace to help you add an element of endurance training into your strength workouts.
For more efficiency, try mixing and matching aerobic exercises, think 400m runs at a challenging pace, with a dumbbell, kettlebell and bodyweight exercises.
After a thorough warm-up, perform 12 to 16 of the following exercises with a challenging weight. Please take no more than one minute of rest between each set.
- Barbell Rows
- Back Squats
- Walking Lunges
5. Add a Long Run
Once you build enough power and stamina with strength training and Yasso 800s, be sure to add more mileage and distance to your runs—especially your longest run of the week—anything longer than an 8-miler is a long run in my option.
Why are long runs so vital?
Well, for many reasons. Long runs strengthen the heart, increase mitochondrial volume, flush waste from tired muscles, help burn fat as fuel, improve running form and so on.
For the full guide to the Long Run, check this post here.
The Right Mileage?
So, how to fit a long run within an existing running program?
Well, it’s actually quite simple.
Here is how:
Make sure that at least 25 to 30 percent of your weekly mileage is devoted to the long run. Of course, the exact percentage depends on your overall mileage, training goals and fitness level, but it’s a good estimate to start with.
If you hate long runs, then my post here is the exact thing you need to help you overcome the hate and learn to enjoy them.
This might be one of the simplest running workouts to do.
After a 10-minute thorough warm-up, try to stick to a comfortable and consistent pace for at least 50 to 70 minutes.
As you get stronger, aim to increase your long run duration by no more than 5 minutes from one week to the next. By doing it in a gradual manner, you’ll drastically be able to reduce the risks of injury and/or overtraining.
Just whatever you do, make sure that your long runs are carried out at a comfortable, conversational pace. If you push the pace, you’ll end up hurting yourself and that’s not the purpose of training.
6. Embrace Plyometric
Once you have done enough interval training style runs and strength workouts, you might ready for some more action.
Here comes plyometrics.
These are really about taking your cross-training workouts to the next level.
So, what are they? and how can plyo training help you become a good runner?
I have already written an extensive piece on plyo training. You can find it here.
In essence, plyometric training involves performing explosive movements.
Plyo training can help you become a better runner by improving your running form efficiency. This happens primarily by minimizing the amount of time your feet stay on the ground.
And runners need to be more explosive for many reasons. In fact, once you start getting more explosive, your whole body will start moving faster without putting in any extra effort.
And science backs this up.
Check these two studies.
After a thorough dynamic warm-up, perform 45-second to minute of the following exercises
- Box jumps
- Squat jumps
- Jump knee tucks
- One leg hops (30 seconds on each leg).
Next, rest for one minute then repeat the cycle for two to three times.
7. Tempo Runs
Tempo runs have one main purpose: help you improve your lactate threshold level. This refers to the level of exertion at which lactic acid starts building up and accumulating in the muscles.
The Ideal Tempo Pace
During tempo runs, your running effort should feel difficult enough, but not too much to where you can no longer sustain your pace. This is often a bit slower than your 10K race pace.
After a 10-minute warm-up of running at an easy pace, run the next three to four miles at tempo pace.
Then finish it off with a 5-minute slow jog as a cool down.
You can also do a negative split run if you want to spice up your long runs and make it more challenging.
And here is how.
Run the first portion of your long run at a comfortable pace, then once you reach the middle point, gradually pick up your pace until you are running the last three to four miles at tempo pace.
Last up, slow down and cool down with a 10-minute effortless jog.
8. CrossFit Training
Still looking for more endurance building tactics?
Well, I still have more tricks up my sleeves when it comes to building stamina and endurance.
A powerful training tool I’m using these days is CrossFit. Go here for the complete CF guide for runners.
So what is CrossFit?
In essence, CF is a diversified training program that’s designed to improve on all facets of fitness: speed, strength, agility, endurance, coordination, stamina, and everything in between.
That’s what’s commonly referred to as functional fitness. Yes, I know, this is such a buzzword in the fitness community.
This functional fitness is achieved through the use the use of bodyweight training, plyo exercises, Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics rings, sled pushes, kettlebells exercises, interval style cardio workout and much more.
But all in all, I have tried CF, and I still do WODs (Workout of the day), at least a couple of times a week.
For the most part, a standard WOD might include sprinting, rope climbs, power cleans (an Olympic weightlifting move), and slamming a med ball against the floor or a wall.
To give you a test of CF training, try this beginner-friendly WOD.
In a 20-Minute pernio, do as many reps as possible of the following.
Circuit: 5 Pull-ups -> 10 Push-ups -> 15 Squats
For more, check my full guide to CrossFit training here
9. Don’t Forget Recovery
I hate to break it to you, but running every day, day and night, won’t turn you into the fastest and strongest runner alive.
This might sound like the counter-intuitive thing to do, but all things being equal, recovery is as important as the training itself.
The fact is, recovery is as important as running.
Skipping on recovery is a surefire way to hinder your endurance and stamina building effort.
Doing so will only backfire on you, and lead to all sorts of trouble. And you don’t want that.
In fact, if you overtrain, then you are doing yourself more harm than good.
Well, it’s quite obvious why. It’s during your down time that your body can bounce back from the training load and be able to rebuild and repair damaged muscle tissue.
Otherwise, mess with proper recovery, and you’ll be putting and creating a large dent in your recovery powers.
So please, don’t run hard every day.
Be sure to give your body enough time to fully recover and recuperate. Don’t mess with that vital process.
Therefore, make sure to take reload weeks every third or fourth week of intense training.
Take a reload week every 4 or 6 weeks, depending on your training program and fitness level and background.
Or, at least, take a light week once a month if you are training hard—or in case you start noticing early warning signs of overtraining.
10. Be Consistent
In the end, consistency and patience are the names of the game.
Sure, the above workouts and training guidelines are some of the best.
But nothing happens if you are not consistent over the long haul. As with anything else in life, (perfect) practice makes perfect. There is no way around it.
Do not expect to be able to improve your running endurance if you only lace up your running shoes twice a week.
In my experience, the best way to stick a to training regime is to make a schedule, then stick to it no matter what.
Here are some of the things you need to do to make that happen:
Set clear running goals. Here is your complete guide.
Turn your running program into a habit. Here is your complete guide.
Train your mind for stellar performance. Here is your complete guide.
Peer up with a training buddy.
Change up your running program. Here is your complete guide.
Join a running club.
Run in the morning. Here is your complete guide.
And that’s it.