Whether you are trying to increase your running endurance or just starting out as a runner, here are some surefire tips so you can make the most out of those long miles:
So you want to be able to run longer, right? It may seem a bit redundant, but one of the best ways to do so is to, simply put, run long. One of the biggest reasons runners hit a wall in training or can’t seem to improve is because they run the same mileage in each session. In order to really grow your stamina, take one session per week and run significantly longer than you normally do. If you usually train for 5Ks, take one day to increase that distance to 5 miles and gradually work your way up to the 10K distance or longer. If you train for longer races like half marathons, then your long run should be at least the 13.1 mile race distance, if not longer. This does not mean you need to start out at that distance, but aim for benchmarks—get to a 7 mile long run, then an 8, then 10, then 12, etc.
Increase Mileage The Right Way
With the goal of working up to longer running, a general guideline for distance runners is to increase your mileage by no more than 10% weekly. If you currently run 10 miles per week, then add 1 mile the next week. If you run 20 weekly, add 2 the following week. This is an effective method to both decrease the risk of injury from overtraining and to better acclimate to the mindset needed for longer runs.
Many diet trends push a notion that you should not eat carbs, but for distance runners this couldn’t be further from the truth. To effectively run longer, more than half of your caloric intake should stem from carbohydrates. That said, ice cream for every meal won’t do you any favors, but complex carbohydrates that provide sustainable energy will ensure you have the nutrients to keep you moving. Aim for foods like bananas, oatmeal, Greek yogurt and brown rice. Remember, the more colorful your plate, the better.
Plan for Recovery
Too many runners pound their body daily with hard miles and then wonder why everything hurts from the waist down. You need to plan for recovery to effectively improve your endurance for running. Long runs and increasing mileage are great, but if you don’t take time off, then your body is unable to adequately heal from the damage you inflicted on it. If you run three times per week, try staggering your days off in between sessions. If you run five times per week, run back-to-back days and then take a day off from running. This doesn’t mean you should sit on your couch all day, you can take part in active recovery like cycling, walking or yoga. Other great recovery practices include foam rolling, stretching and massage—just to name a few. Also, don’t try to run hard every session, aside from your weekly long run and speed session, the rest of your miles should be at an easy recovery pace—no longer than 35 minutes in total, roughly two minutes slower per mile than race pace, and no more than 70% of your Maximum Heart Rate (if you’re into tracking that sort of thing).