How To Build Up Endurance For Running
At the time of writing this I've only been running a few months off and on. I started out just needing something to do that wasn't watching the kids and cleaning the house everyday, I'm still adjusting to life as a stay at home dad. I've been following the plan in the Couch to 5K app and what felt like it was impossible just weeks ago seems easy now. and this got me thinking about how to build up endurance for running after I reach the end of the program.
After a lot of reading and asking more experienced runners I think it can be boiled down to just a few key things whether you are a new runner looking to run their first 5k (like me) or an experienced runner (like my wife who is into marathons and triathlons).
Don't Push Too Hard Too Fast.
This is less about building endurance and more about being able to train long term and is especially valuable to new runners. The first couple of times I set out I was running WAY to fast. After just a minute I was huffing and puffing and thinking I was going to die. Of course my pace was more of a sprint than a jog so it's no wonder. A good jogging pace should not leave you winded, in reality you should be able to jog any distance without losing your breath. If you do get winded you are running faster than your body can supply oxygen to your muscles and will soon run out of power and be unable to continue without taking a break. The solution? Slow down! Now you should expect to breath heavily when running, but you should still be able to talk without too much trouble.
Your legs might feel like they can handle the higher pace but a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and until you increase your aerobic conditioning (which is everything from how much oxygen your lungs can take in, the heart pumping your blood and the muscles being able to pick it up and use it ) you need to build your pace slowly. Going to hard too soon only leads to injury, over training and wanting to give up.
Building endurance is first going to be about frequency. When starting out decide how often you want to run as your goal. That could be every other day, 6 days a week or whatever fits your lifestyle. Make it your goal to work up to that number of runs. For example if you are currently running 3 days a week, add a day, run 4 days a week for 3 weeks, then add another day and maintain for 3 weeks, lather, rinse, repeat. Once you are able to run as often as your goal for 3 weeks it's time to move on.
If you want to run farther, either your first 5K or a marathon, you need to actually run farther. Once a week you should have a long run. Either add distance to time to your runs. Start small add a few minutes or half a mile a week at first. It might not seem like a lot but it will add up and after a few weeks you will be able to add more time and distance per long run. Remember go slow and focus on getting to the end at your normal pace. Speed comes with endurance.
Run Faster using "fartlek"
Overall speed is trained with very short bursts of fast running followed by very long recovery times. Fartlek is Swedish for "speed play" but it's more fun to say Fartlek out loud so that's what I go with. Like it sounds it's about playing with your speed there is no set structure and it alternates medium to hard effort with easy pacing throughout your run. Once you are done your normal warm up and are running at an easy pace just pick a goal (like a sign, a tree, street corner or whatever) and you run faster till you get there. Follow that with a long recovery at your easy pace till you don't feel the effects of the faster effort. Continue doing this throughout your run and play with the speed just like the name Fartlek implies.
Allow Time For recovery
Recovery is as equally important as the act of running itself for getting faster, stronger and going further. Your body doesn't improve when you are running (you are actually breaking it down), repair and strength building happens later when you rest and refuel. Skimping on eating well and getting enough sleep are surefire ways to sabotage your progress and make yourself more prone to injury.
Being a more efficient runner will enable you to run longer and faster with less energy spent, so you will feel less tired. Here are a few tips to running with good technique.
A good cadence is 170-180 steps per min (look at this page for a list of songs in that beats per minute https://jog.fm/workout-songs/at/180/bpm?order=desc&sort=popularity).
Avoid leaning forward too much run upright like a string is pulling up on your head and shoulders and make sure your foot lands under your center of gravity. Short quick steps are far better than long slow strides.
If you have weight to lose, every pound you aren’t carrying around will make it that much easier to run further easier. Just imagine how much harder it would be to run a 5K while carrying all your groceries.
Consistency is the key
If you decided to ignore everything else and just do one thing, it should be simply getting out and running consistently. It seems obvious to say it but you won’t build running endurance if you aren’t running regularly.
This might get a bit harder for those of us that live in colder climates which is why I’ve started looking at treadmills for when there is too much snow to go out for a run.
So there you have it...
How to build up endurance for running?
It’s pretty simple really.
Get out and run frequently, at a good pace and with good technique, increase distance slowly, up your pace in bursts and make sure to get the right food and adequate rest.
Soon you will look back of those once too long distances and too fast speeds and find them impossibly slow and short.
-The Stay At Home Dad