When it comes running, most people quit because they don’t see the results quick enough or they don't want to put it the time it takes to run long distances.
However, there are the select few, like you obviously, who want to improve stamina, endurance, speed and learn how to run farther and faster.
It doesn’t matter what type of race you are running; 5k, 10k, half, full, or ultra marathon, the same rules will apply when it comes to building stamina or endurance for speed and distance.
It is a slow and natural building process that will happen over time. Even for more seasoned runners, it can take weeks or months to build stamina and endurance.
I want to introduce you to Sage Canaday. He is professional runner- and coach- from V02max Productions that shares some great advice for getting you to your fastest time and your farthest distance:
Coach Sage begins by talking about building stamina to avoid being out of breath up hills or being reduced to walking, and building endurance is the key to sustaining a running pace. "You have to train not to strain."
1. Increase your Base Mileage
I like how they put it in this article from Breaking Muscle, "In order to achieve success as a runner and reach your full potential we must pay close to our pace goals and have a plan on how you are going to reach your goals long before you toe the starting line. Pacing is something that can, should be practiced in training"
Building yourself up with some easy mileage running is a great way to sustain a certain pace and increase stamina and endurance. An ideal starting point for increasing your mileage base should be around 15-20 miles per week.
However, if you are a beginning runner learning how to run farther, don’t be afraid to go with less of a commitment. I started with 4-6 miles per week.
No shame in my game!
Keep in mind that walking is part of building stamina . You will notice, over time, walks will become slower pace and eventually disappear as you endure longer distances.
2. Improve your Cardio Vascular System
Coach Sage goes on to say,"The most important thing you can do for your endurance is to improve your cardio vascular system", and he is correct.
Knowing how to pump and oxygenate blood to your muscles faster and more efficiently will help increase your mileage base.
Mcmillan Running summarizes it like this, "The key cardiorespiratory or "central" adaptations that result from Endurance training include an increase in your stroke volume -- the amount of blood that is pumped with each heart beat. The result is that fewer heartbeats are needed to deliver the same amount of blood to the working muscles. You experience this as a slower resting pulse and lower heart rates at a given pace."
If you find yourself breathing heavy early on - like I have done - try some slower paced exercises to improve lung function and oxygen usage. Aerobic running activities will strengthen your heart and circulatory system.
3. Fix your Running Form
I hardly ever listened, but, do you remember when your mother constantly told you to stand up straight?
She was right!
When it comes building stamina with good form, the most common problem is slouching. Slouching and poor posture can be that cause of pain, tight breathing, and poor mobility.
In this article, Dr. Nancy Syderman, describes what other affects slouching can have: "Slouching puts pressure on your vertebrae, ultimately causing discs to become compressed and making you vulnerable to back pain. Pelvic muscles go slack, which makes it even harder to support a well-aligned stance, especially as you get older. Nerves in your neck are pinched, too, tightening muscles there and causing tension headaches."
The good news is that it can be fixed.
What is more important is that, once fixed, it will lower the risk of injuring yourself before your next event.
In addition, if you're learning how to run farther, good form will preserve some energy and allow you run faster.
When you become more efficient and increase the physical intensity of your weekly training, your body will begin to adapt to improve its exercise potential.
Fitness is a gradual process that you cannot achieve by sprinting. You may need to start out at a light intensity, focusing on the specific areas you want to improve.
4. The Conversational Tone of Pace
Conversational pacing allows you to talk without breathing heavy. Coach Sage considers this "a key to for long distance runners". Relaxed and slow running is proven to help with reducing hearts rates and developing your cardio vascular system.
If you don't have a running partner, some coolideas to test your pacing could be to sing the national anthem or talk to yourself about the things you see as you pass them.
Honestly, it is not easy to do.
I started getting a feel for it around the third or fourth week- after logging some miles and laps. You have to take into consideration the rhythm and motion of your arms and legs.
My suggestion is to be patient and slowly learn how to get your breathing under control. You will most likely have to slow down a lot, but it will be a huge pay-off if you stick with it.
5. Add a Long Run to your Weekly Schedule
A great way to increase your stamina is to have a long run once a week as part of the increase in your base mileage. Coach Sage correctly points out that "You don't have to do this everyday but if your consistent you will be better and more efficient aerobically"
Try not to overwhelm yourself with committing to an eight-mile run. Start with a long run that is four to five miles and slowly build over time.
Something to consider is that long runs are not meant to be completed fast and are usually 1-2 minutes slower than what your actual marathon pace will be. Taking it at an easy pace will definitely decrease your chances of being injured.
It's easy to think of longs runs every week as a daunting task, but with every long run you get closer to your goals of finishing a marathon.
Even some more experienced long distance runners are not particularly excited about the idea of training this way, but they understand how important it is for building up stamina.
Final Note: Avoid Injuries
Coach Sage Canady delivers some great advice if you want to learn how to run further and faster. However, he ends his message with one caveat:
You can’t afford to get injured!
Avoiding knee injuries, tendonitis, beating up your leg muscle joints and pain in your feet is all about knowing when and how to listen to your body.
Training is not a race to the finish line. It's just the start.
If you're ready, start where you are! Remember to have a good pair of shoes, build yourself up slowly, run with good form, and run at a relaxed pace so you can do that mileage without getting injured.