Whether your a runner looking to improve your race times, or your just wanting to work through your own personal fitness plateau, if you are looking to extend your workouts to improve your results, you need to build up your endurance. Here’s some easy ways to build running endurance.
First – don’t worry at the beginning about different workouts or running a faster pace. In fact, focusing on that could create more problems than you might think. What limits most new runners are two factors – lack of endurance since they’ve not been running for very long, and due to that, they have an increased risk of injury which slows down their progress. The goal, then, is to increase your endurance without going so far as hurting yourself.
But, increasing your mileage is actually the easiest way to hurt yourself. So, here’s two different strategies beginners should try in order to increase your running endurance.
Strategy #1 – Train Your Heart, Not Your Legs:
When you run, your legs hit the ground – it’s a contact sport, and it’s those impact forces of your feet hitting the ground that can cause issues with your muscles and connective tissues, creating injuries. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that your muscles don’t build, grow, and strengthen during your run. The micro-tears that your muscles experience during exercise – that breakdown, is what forces them to rebuild themselves stronger. So, when you think about it, you need to cause a “little” damage to get stronger. When you push for too long, though, that’s what causes injuries that your body has a harder time recovering from. If you cross train, though, rather than overworking one muscle group for too long, you exercise multiple muscle groups. You still build endurance while avoiding injury. Two ways to cross train – one is cycling, the other pool running. By adding cycling to your exercise program, you still work your legs and improve your aerobic capacity, while avoiding the repetitive pounding of a long run that causes injury. Pool running is another way to cross-train. You are increasing resistance by mimicking a running action in the deep end of a pool, and keeping a cadence of 180+ steps per minute, while your buoyancy allows you to avoid the impact forces normally associated with running. By adding a day or two of cross training per week, you can help improve your endurance while avoiding injury.
Strategy #2 – Run Consistently!
Your other strategy is a simple one. Progress slowly and consistently. When you’re starting out on a running program, don’t try to jump to long runs right away. Instead, try to limit your increases in mileage to 2-3 miles every other week. This means that your progress may seem slow – some weeks, you may not increase your mileage at all. But, you’re also allowing your body time to adjust to your current workout. And, you can increase your ability to withstand a new, higher mileage when you do advance by supplementing your workout with weight training. Aim for 10-20 minutes of bodyweight exercises after each run, and then hit the gym twice a week, concentrating on basic strength workouts including squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench press, pull-ups, and military press. By adding strength training to your workouts, you not only help build and strengthen your core muscles, you also work additional muscles that aren’t activated directly when you run. This can not only help you build endurance, but also help build stability and make your movements more efficient as well.