We blogged recently with some Fartlek Training Tips to help improve your overall running speed, but for many runners – particularly those starting out on their training, increasing the level of running endurance that they have is just as important.
Quite simply, the best way to improve running endurance is simply to run further each time you go out on the trails, however it’s also really important to set some goals, and stick to them. It’s also absolutely essential that you don’t become disheartened during the early parts of your training regime when you’re probably running a lot less than you would hope.
It’s easier to keep yourself motivated if you measure what you’re achieving so you can see some progress. There are loads of run tracking programmes available. Endomondo is really popular and works well with iPhone and other smartphones with GPS, alternatives like GMap Pedometer, and Map My run have been around for a while and also provide a really good suite of tools for measuring how far you go
Stage 1 – What running endurance do you have?
The first thing you want to know when running is how far can you go, and in what time. Go for a run at a comfortable pace, and keep going until you have to take a break. Look at how long it took you, and also take into account how far you managed.
On your first run, you might manage 10 minutes, and cover a mile or so.
Stage 2 – Set a Goal
it’s essential to have a programme to improve running endurance, and this means setting out some goals and timescales. A common initial goal for runners might be to run 5KM non stop, and if you’re initially able to cover 1.5KM, or manage 10 minutes of consistent running, then it means increasing endurance by a factor of 3.
Set yourself a goal that will push you. This might be to increase your time by 5 minutes each week so that over a period of one month you go from running 10 minutes non-stop up to running 30 minutes non-stop.
Stage 3 – Go for it
Once you have a goal set, and the means to measure whether you’re achieving it, then it’s time to get started. The most important thing you do is start. Don’t make excuses, or try and put things off, once you commit to getting fit, you need to stick to your plan.
Stage 4 – Increase distance and Time
Once you’ve set out your objectives, and got started, you need to start working. Go running every other day, and simply go further each day. A good way to improve running endurance is to plan a route around where you live or work that covers your target distance.
Try and cover the full distance each day. Start by running at your ideal training pace, and when you need to stop, make a note of where you got to on the route, and how long it took you. Don’t stop altogether when you run out of steam, just go from running to walking, and then restart when you get your breathy back.
The next time you run, aim to get past the place where you stopped, and keep going for an extra minute or two.
Stage 5 – Beat Your plan
Track where you’re getting to each day. You should find that you are getting towards your target distance quicker than you might expect. Most people find that they hit a threshold with their running at which point they can go quickly from running a shorter distance to a much longer one over night. You might manage 2 miles one day, and then something clicks in when you next go for a run, and you can manage 3 miles no problem at all.
When you get into the zone, and your form improves and your breathing comes to you, you’ll find that running gets easier every time, and you start to be able to run further and faster each time you go out because of your improved running endurance. That’s when you really start to enjoy things more and more.