You probably want to know how to improve your endurance simply? It is indeed one of the questions I hear most often among runners. And for good reason, endurance is what characterizes the runner the most. Endurance is defined as "the ability to maintain a certain level of intensity for as long as possible". Pretty simple, pretty logical.
The longer you are able to maintain a high intensity, the better the results in the race. And endurance is something that can be worked on very well! So I will show you that improving your endurance can be simple and logical with a little method. In fact, I would even say that as long as we don't apply these 5 tips, it's useless to focus on more complex things! Here we really have the basis, the essential advice to progress.
Why improve your endurance in running ?
Working to improve your overall endurance is the basis. Obviously there are other important aspects when you run, such as good planning. It allows you to do enough to improve, while avoiding falling into overtraining. There are also the subjects neglected by many in running technique or recovery.
But nothing is more important than working on endurance because it is the driving force behind the long-distance races. The more endurance you have, the more easily you will run, in a relaxed way and therefore be more efficient and improve. Endurance is measured at the heart, respiratory and muscular levels. The advantage of running is that it allows you to harmoniously develop your endurance in each of the sectors.
How to improve endurance in running ?
To put it simply, I have synthesized in 5 tips the basics to work on your endurance and make it progress over the long term. Because if there is one thing to learn when you wonder how to improve your endurance: patience. Endurance only improves in the long term, so do not expect immediate progress. We must accept to work and wait patiently for the fruit of our work to pay off.
And you will see that all the tips that will help you improve your endurance are very simple. But put end to end, and used regularly, no need to look any further. Sometimes the solution is before our eyes, just apply it. And if you want to go deeper into the topics, all the links (in orange) lead you to additional articles that will help you!
1. Running regularly
If I had to give a single piece of advice to answer the question how to improve your endurance, it would clearly be this one: run regularly! Because, you must not lie to yourself, improving your endurance is a long-term task. Endurance is built up little by little, through continuous training. It is better to train a little but very regularly than a lot over a period of time and not at all before resuming intensively... You will also understand in passing why it is necessary to do everything to avoid injuries: to be injured is to stop, and therefore gradually lose back the benefits of the training done.
Improving endurance means looking to the long term and having adapted training throughout the year. The body will then gradually adapt to the effort you ask it to put in. In the end, progress may not seem great if you look back over a few weeks. But it is on a scale of several months or a year that we will be able to assess its progress.
2. Run slowly, at will!
Running slowly is counter-intuitive, but yes, it makes you run well faster! More precisely, do at least 70% of your total volume of fundamental endurance training (Under 65% VMA or 75% FCM, or the rate at which you can run and talk without being short of breath). It is at this rate that the basis for good endurance is built.
And if at this rate you feel like you're dragging your feet... insist, it's perfectly normal at first! (and read my article on slow jogging to better understand why it is productive to drag yourself along!) It is by dint of practicing it that fundamental endurance has its effect! Your heart rate will gradually decrease and your speed will increase slightly while remaining in fundamental endurance. The virtuous circle to increase endurance begins when you realize that footings become easy to run and that it is a pleasure to do them! Watch this short video as a bonus: Are you sure you know your Maximum Heart Rate? (FCM)
3. Run fast, a little fast!
I told you to run slowly
and now I tell you to run fast. No, I'm not crazy and no, I'm not laughing at you. Running slowly makes a lot of progress in basic endurance
. But if you want to put all the chances on your side to increase your overall endurance, a little intensity is useful. A little, it is the 30% of your training remaining after the fundamental endurance. The ideal is really to couple the two and to vary the gaits. The body will adapt in this way in all sectors at the same time.
For general endurance, one of the most effective rhythms to progress is certainly the anaerobic threshold. By being close to the maximum of our aerobic system, without generating significant fatigue, the threshold is a fast rhythm, without being maximum, which greatly improves endurance. Paces above this threshold, when it comes to split training or VMA, are also very useful. We then seek to develop our power, to increase our limits. By improving its maximum capacity, we will mechanically increase its endurance limits. All performances are pulled up! Depending on how often you run each week, try to include a split and/or a threshold session.
4. Running for a long time
Making long outings clearly helps to increase your endurance. Doing a long outing once a week helps you push your body to adapt to running longer, which is the very basis of endurance. When you exceed the amount of time the body is used to taking, you generate additional stress. It is this stronger solicitation that will allow the body to strengthen itself.
Be careful to make these long outings intelligently because they can also generate more fatigue than benefit otherwise... When we talk about long outings no need to run for hours. Unless you are preparing a half-marathon or marathon, a 1h15 outing each week is more than enough to activate this development of your general endurance.
5. Running... but not only!
One of the runner's tools to improve his endurance is cross training. Running is good, but it's traumatic. When you increase your volume, you have to go very gradually to avoid the risk of injury. For the impatient, cross training is perfect. Because fundamental endurance is not reserved for running! You can improve your endurance by doing volume on a bike, cross-country skis, in a swimming pool, hiking... or any other endurance activity! The heart doesn't really care what the rest of the body does with the blood it pumps... The same goes for the lungs with oxygen. Developing your cardiovascular and pulmonary capacities is therefore very good on a bike or in a swimming pool!
Be careful to keep running as the main sport. Because each sport has its own specificities. Cross-training is very effective in developing the cardiovascular and pulmonary aspect. On the other hand, a bike ride can never replace muscle and tendon adaptations or the running economy that is gradually created with each stride. Too much stress on the body and you get hurt, not enough stress and you don't progress! The truth is in the middle, and cross-training should only be considered by those who do at least 3 training sessions per week and want to do more. And to learn more about this subject, to understand an approach that I have been testing for several months in training, click here
Increase your endurance over the long term
I have already said it above, but working on your endurance is a long-term process. At first, improving your overall endurance is quite easy. But the further we go, the more we progress, and the more this progress will slow down. Continuing to improve then requires the rigour of regular training, without getting discouraged.
If your level of endurance is low to medium: You will see nice results after 3 weeks to 1 month of training only, especially if you are serious about basic endurance! Endurance is an area that can be progressed quickly at the beginning. This is very encouraging, and then comes the moment to persevere because the progress will become slower and you will have to accept not seeing the result right away.
If your level of endurance is already relatively good: Progress will be slow but rewarding at one time or another. I don't talk on weekdays, but in months, even years. My personal experience proves it to me, you shouldn't focus on the present moment, waiting for the training to bear fruit. Work always pays if it is well done. To encourage you, I put the curve of progression of my times over the last few years. For 6 months nothing sometimes happens, but if we look at the level of the year, the progress is there!
A bonus advice to improve your endurance?
Never give up and persevere in your training! The performance trays that can be found can always be beaten. This sometimes leads to periods of doubt or reduced motivation. It is at these moments that you can make a difference. Your work will pay off later, be convinced! Stay motivated, and when progress comes, you'll be even more proud of what you've achieved!
And to better understand how to build a training plan with this long-term logic, go to this article.