Whether you’re an elite marathon runner or starting week 3 of a 5K program, running further and faster are two common training goals for people of all fitness levels. While there’s no hard and fast rule or “one best way” to boost running stamina, there are some general guidelines you can follow that will help you perform better while staying injury-free.
How to increase stamina
To increase your stamina, you need to have a working definition of what it is. The easiest way to understand stamina in relationship to running, according to Steve Stonehouse, NASM-CPT, USATF certified coach, director of education for STRIDE, is to think of it as your body’s ability to sustain effort for a long period of time.
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1. Start slow and tackle small steps
Even if you feel ready to bump up your distance or speed, it’s a smart idea to go slow and aim to make incremental gains in your training program. This is especially true if you’re new to a regular running schedule.
If you’ve been averaging 4-mile runs, don’t bump it up to 7 miles. To avoid injury and burnout, go up in small steps, such as increasing by 1 mile each week.
Another important tip, says Alex Harrison, PhD, CSCS, USATF-3, USAT, USAW, a sport performance consultant with Renaissance Periodization, is to always start training from where you are, not where you wish you were.
“Progress should be over many weeks, allowing time for recovery, but getting harder and harder,” Harrison explains.
2. Add strength training
If you’re not already doing resistance training workouts, then you need to add them to your running program.
Performing strength training exercises at least 2 to 3 days a week can help improve running economy, according to a review of literature from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
Plus, increasing the strength of all of your muscles helps reduce your chance of getting injured. Aim for full-body workouts that target the major muscle groups. Perform 2 to 3 sets per exercise, 8 to 12 repetitions per set.