Using Running to Build Stamina
If your primary training goal is to build stamina and endurance, then running is one of the best exercises you can do. Other great ways to increase your stamina include cycling, swimming and high-intensity interval training (HIIT), but in this guide, we’re going to focus on how you can build stamina with running.
How to build stamina with running
Whether you’re a beginner who wants to make it to the 5K mark for the first time or an experienced runner training for your first half marathon, the key to building stamina with running is consistency. There are no shortcuts. You have to run multiple times per week for numerous weeks to accumulate fitness and stamina. It’s widely accepted that it takes between 10 days and 4 weeks to benefit from a run, with quick intense runs being less beneficial than longer steady runs when it comes to increasing endurance and stamina.
However, along with consistency, there are also a number of running exercises and techniques that could help you achieve your stamina goals more quickly.
- Run long and slow
The most effective way to build stamina with running is to focus on long, easy-paced training runs that allow you to increase your endurance while lowering the risk of injury. As a guide, when training, you should aim to run at around 80% of the speed you’d run at competitively. For example, if you’d run a half marathon at an 8-minutes-per-mile pace, when training, aim to cover each mile in 10 minutes instead. (You would calculate your 80% pace by multiplying your race pace by 1.25.)
- Make every workout count
If you’re running three times a week, you need to make sure all of those runs are good hard workouts. To really build stamina, we recommend you combine one long run with two tempo runs. Your long run should represent around 50% of the distance you’ll cover during the week, while the tempo runs should be over a shorter distance, but at a higher pace. Tempo runs train your body to clear lactic acid from the bloodstream more quickly, so you can run further before fatigue and lactic acid set in. For a worthwhile tempo run, you should run at a ‘comfortably hard’ pace for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on your level of fitness.
- Develop your technique
Improving your technique will allow you to run more efficiently and ultimately cover more miles with less effort. To improve your technique, focus on running tall. You can do that by straightening your back and neck and imagining there’s a piece of string holding you up nice and straight. You should also make sure your feet land centrally under your body and are pointing forwards, rather than off to the side. Aiming for a cadence of around 170 to 185 steps per minute will make sure your strides are nice and easy, without being overly powerful, and ensure your feet aren’t in contact with the ground for too long.
- Strengthen your legs
To run longer, you need to have sufficient power in your legs and core to keep you strong over the distance. Running exercises that focus on explosive leg movements are an effective way to create stronger legs. Skipping, box jumps, knee-high sprints and fast-feet drills, where you run 10 to 15 metres, taking the shortest, quickest strides you can manage, all help to build your length strength.
- Train your mind
Running longer distances than you’ve ever managed before can be daunting, but as well as all that physical preparation, taking a few steps to prepare yourself mentally can help to give you the edge. Breaking a long run down into shorter distances that you can easily manage is a very simple coping strategy. Learning to zone out on a run, finding your flow and allowing yourself to enter an almost meditative state, is also a very effective way to eat up those miles without feeling too much pain!
- Fuel your body
If you want to build stamina with running, it’s essential you know how to fuel your body properly or you’ll run out of energy long before your legs give up. Carbs are now your best friend. Complex carbohydrates, like brown rice, whole grains and oatmeal, can provide the slow release of energy you need to keep going for longer. Getting 55–65% of your calorie intake from these complex carbohydrates is the recipe for endurance running success!
Find the right running shoes
If you’re serious about building your stamina with running, it’s essential you invest in a quality pair of lightweight, stable and supportive running shoes. Here at ASICS, we have a leading range of men’s and women’s running shoes for every running type.