There is no doubt in the fact that people are looking for effective ways to boost their stamina and endurance. As a long distance runner, you might wish to improve your cardio endurance for the marathons. On the other hand, if you are absolutely new to running, you might just be looking for ways to push it further and earn that first mile. Well, the biggest mistake that beginner runners often tend to do is just pay attention to cardio activities like cycling or running. However, that is a rather small element of endurance training. This is because you would also be required to build your strength.
When you work on your leg muscles, the added muscles would help in absorbing the impact which otherwise your joints would have to face. With endurance training, you would be able to overcome all the challenges that you have been facing and thereby would be able to succeed in your next race. After training for a while, you would realize that the distance which once felt demanding and gruelling would now seem quite easy. When that happens, it would mean that you have successfully increased your stamina required for running.
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There’s one thing that you must always remember- the key to success is by putting in continuous effort into achieving the goal. What this means is the fact that you need to run several times a week for multiple weeks so as to be fit and accumulate the required strength. There is no shortcut to increase your stamina. The time that it would take your body to benefit from a run would completely be dependent on the type of the run. Long steady runs are usually on the higher end of the range while intense and quicker runs are generally on the lower end of the range.
How to Improve Muscular Endurance?
Before getting started on increasing your running stamina or before beginning your endurance training, you would first be required to assess yourself honestly regarding your present aerobic base. It depends on result that you would be working on building your stamina. If you are an experienced runner and are looking for ways to improve your stamina for the upcoming marathon or an experienced runner and are looking forward to finishing your first 5k race, you need to understand that continual practice is the key to succeeding. Also, putting in too much of effort very soon would just lead to injury.
Remember that overtraining wouldn’t help you in building endurance in any way. Instead, you might just end up getting injured. Hence, you must train intelligently and only as much as your body can possibly sustain. Also, you need to understand the fact that variety is absolutely essential. Just as much as your body requires fast sprints, it also needs slow runs. This variety in the workout plan works the muscles and the cardiovascular system in various ways and thereby makes room for both recovery and strength-building.
Endurance Training Workouts and Tips to Elevate your Stamina
Okay, so running as all of us thought is a rather simple act. But, what makes it complicated is the inclusion of exercises, drills and complex workouts. Now, these workouts aren’t there to irritate you. They are there to help you be stronger and run faster for longer distances. Listed below are few endurance training strategies that have worked for a lot of runners. All of them might not work for you but a few of them definitely would. By following them, you will be able to improve your endurance and running for long distances easily.
1. Merge Strength Days with Cardio Days
Instead of just focusing on cardio workouts, make sure that you are equally concentrating on strength exercises. It is essential to include strength exercises in your endurance training as just the cardio workouts wouldn’t help you in any way with building your endurance. This is because as more muscles get involved, the more it would help in challenging your cardiovascular system and heart. As has been noted, most beginners tend to reserve one day for cardio and the other day for strength.
However, this would work best when both of them are combined. For instance, you could do squats that would then be followed by jumping ropes, an overhead press and then by sit-ups. You could perform about 5-8 sets of this depending upon your fitness level. Another great workout would be to do pull-ups and then immediately perform bench-press. As soon as you are done with that, run a mile as fast as you possibly can. Keep repeating.
2. Remain Consistent
This is perhaps the most obvious one out of all. By training on a consistent basis, you would be able to improve your aerobic capacity (this is the amount of the oxygen that your muscles can use) and also run faster as compared to what you can now. When you perform endurance exercises on a regular basis, your muscles would also be strengthened.
Extra runs should be added into your routine slowly. Do not ever just do it at once as your body would not be able to sustain that. Aim to run about 3 to 4 times a week for approximately 30 minutes. Out of these 4 times or sessions, one of these sessions should be where you run farther than all the other runs that you do that week. This mileage should be increased at a conservative rate.
As new runners, your mileage increases should only be limited to about 2-4 miles a week. Perform exercises like squats, lunges, bench press, deadlifts etc after every run. These exercises would make you more efficient and thereby help you to develop the strength required.
3. Try Interval Training
This muscle endurance activity aids in burning calories, improving the cardiovascular capacity and adds some interest to your running routine.
But, what exactly is interval training?
Well, it is a kind of physical training which consists of alternating between high and low-intensity activities. This kind of workout targets the energy system along with the various pathways because of which the body becomes capable of producing the energy that is required by the muscles.
If your goal is greater endurance, you would have to remain prepared to sacrifice the break time. Begin by warming up for about 10 to 15 minutes which would include walks, slow jogs and other basic warm-up exercises. Now, if you are going to be doing the interval training for the first-ever time, you would have to work on getting your body used to this. Begin by running for a minute at high speed which would then be followed by slow walking or running for two minutes.
Keep on repeating this interval for approximately 6 to 8 times. Continue doing this for several weeks until you feel comfortable with it. Lower your recovery time by 30 seconds until you are running for one minute and then resting for another minute. You need to ensure that you and your body are able to cope up with the faster pace intervals and reduced recovery time.
Once you are done with the workout, finish off with cooling down for 15 to 20 minutes. This can include a slow jog that would gradually end with a very slow walk.
4. Run Yasso 800s
The main thought behind Yasso 800s is that the amount of time in seconds and minutes for a workout of 10 times 800 meters with uniform recovery time would be the same as the minutes and hours of your total marathon time. For instance, if you are running 800 meters for 10 times in say about 3 minute and 20 seconds with 3 minute and 20 seconds for recovery, this shows that you would be able to run three hours and 20 minutes during the marathon.
What you can do is run Yasso 800s once a week. It would take time for your body to adjust but gradually you would be able to notice the changes.
5. Run Long and Slow
The problem with most of the beginner runners is the fact that they tend to overtrain. With overtraining, the chances of getting injured increases and this way you might never be able to reach your maximum potential. Effort-based training is what you should emphasize on. You could run for a longer period of time if your speed is slow. You might be possible to run faster but to avoid injuries and build endurance is to run for a longer time period at a slower pace.
Do not try to go beyond what your body permits you. Overstraining your body beyond its capacity isn't a good thing to do.
6. Do Plyometrics
Plyometrics also form an essential part of endurance training. A plyometric exercise is a powerful and quick movement which begins with an eccentric action and is followed immediately by a concentric action. By performing plyometric movements, you would be able to increase your muscle power that would translate to faster sprints and higher jumps. When you combine resistance training with plyometric moves, you would be able to maximize power and performance. Your focus should be on doing quality sessions and not the quantity.
Instead of running strides towards the end of easier runs a week, perform a fast feet drill. Run for just 15 to 20 yards with the quickest and shortest stride that you can possibly do. You wouldn’t be required to lift your knees high. All you need to do is lift them fast and the move forward with every stride. Pump your arms powerfully and repeat for about 6 to 8 times. Once a week, you can also perform high-knee skipping, single-leg hops and two-legged bounding for five minutes on a soft surface.
Also, remember that if you are working out your legs one day, then skip the lower-body plyometrics training on the next day and vice versa for the upper-body plyometrics training.
7. Do Fast-Paced, High-Intensity Lifting
When weights are used at an extremely rapid pace, it would help in enhancing strength and your endurance activity. It is perhaps one of the best ways to trigger your body’s metabolism. As discussed above, focusing on endurance-only training wouldn’t help you in any way with your running. It would, in fact, slow down the body’s metabolism as it begins to eat away the muscle tissue. Therefore, it is best to include lifting weights in your workout routine.
8. Make Every Workout Count
Never indulge in a workout session just for the sake of doing it. The 3-day training week is favoured by a lot of runners and is considered to be rather beneficial. Alternate the hard days with the easy one just as you would do usually but on the days when you are to train hard, give your very best. The three days of the week when you have decided to train harder, include a long run, tempo run and speed workout in your regime.
On the other four days, you might choose to run at a rather slow pace or not run at all. However, you must include other things like lifting weights or maybe a game of tennis. This way the risk of injuries is reduced while long-term adherence would improve. No matter what you do, just make sure that you are outing in your 100 % in it. This way, you would slowly be able to see the results.
9. Compound Movements Over Isolation
Compound movements are the ones that require you to use more than one joint. The best examples would be push-ups, squats, pull-ups, bench press step-ups. Isolation exercises like leg lifts and bicep curls, on the other hand, are the ones that isolate a muscle group by focusing on just group of muscle. For most of the time-efficient workouts, compound exercises are recommended because most of them can stimulate all of the major muscles present in the body and thereby help you in gaining strength in the shortest time.
When it comes to endurance training, compound movements must be chosen over isolation exercises. They help in increasing size and strength more effectively than the single-joint isolation exercises.
10. Add Explosive Movements to Your Workout
Explosive movements are the ones that take up a lot of your energy. It however challenges your endurance, stamina and strength simultaneously. Once your movements are more explosive, you would be able to notice that you can basically move faster as compared to before. It is therefore considered as an important part of endurance training. Exercises like box jumps, burpees, throwing a medicine ball, rotational lunge swings, jumping knee tucks and power push-ups can be added to your workout routine.
Remember that your goal with each and every movement should be to recruit as many motor units as possible before fatigue begins to set in.
11. Cross Train to Increase Your Running Stamina
Cross training is also referred to as circuit training and is basically combining exercises of other disciplines which is quite different than what you usually do for running. These exercises supplement an individual’s running and help in building flexibility and strength in muscles. It also helps in preventing injury by correcting the muscular imbalances. The variety in training also helps in preventing burnout and boredom.
You could include weight training (practice doing free weights, machines or other types of strength exercises about 3 times a week), high-powered bike intervals, swimming some laps etc. Other great options would be cross-country ski machines, elliptical trainers, water running, stationary bikes etc. Whatever you choose, make sure that you are choosing workouts that are very close to running.
Also, when you have included cross-training in your routine, it must always be made sure that you are never overtraining. Therefore, keep a close check on your heart rate when you are exercising. Also, monitor it in the morning. In case it is elevated, it’s a sign of overtraining.
12. Make a Training Schedule
When you set a schedule, it would help you to achieve your goal in a better way. Just as you make a schedule when you need to study something for the examination, make a schedule for running and stick to it. Some people avoid creating schedules as they find difficult to keep up with it. But, honestly, all this is just in your head. Nothing’s impossible if you try hard. And, to be able to succeed, you need to push yourself. Boundaries exist only in your mind. So, make a schedule that you are comfortable with and get going.
Also, whatever you do, never quit your regimen. You might not be able to follow your schedule every single day of the week but, try to do so on most of the days.
13. Eat a Balanced Diet
As a runner, it is essential that you keep a check on the food or rather carbs that you consume on a daily basis. The carb that you are intaking should be complimenting your endurance training. As a runner, you are going to be training for long hours and would be indulging in exercises that would lead to fatigue. This means that you need to have a balanced diet so that you have the energy to cover the mentioned distance.
If you feel that you get tired quite quickly and are unable to finish your runs, it might be an indication that you need to increase your carbs. Sugary food and refined carbs must be avoided when you are performing muscle endurance activities. Complex carbohydrates like brown rice, oatmeal etc must be included in the diet.
All of the above-mentioned endurance workouts and tips would only work if you put in your 100% into it. Also, remember that just because you want to achieve your goals, you must not overstrain yourself. That can lead to injuries and other issues. Go only till the extent that your body can sustain. Experiment for the first few days and see which exercise works best for you. Commit to your regimen and you would soon be able to see fruitful results.
Have you ever tried any of these exercises before? If yes, how was your experience with it? Do you have any other tips that seemed to have worked for you for to build endurance for running? Feel free to share them with us in the comments below.