How to Improve Endurance for Distance Runners

Athletes, especially runners, are always looking to push themselves for better times and athletic results. While beginning runners tend to focus on distance and push themselves to go farther than they’ve gone before, experienced runners have a different approach. Because they’ve already run so much, distance is no longer the issue, so they focus on speed instead.

Endurance workouts are designed to help enhance both distance and speed, so runners are constantly improving their peak performance. Not only are they able to go farther, but they can do it faster too. The exercises in this article will also help you improve your distance running.

It’s important to note that everyone’s body is different, meaning people will react to these exercises differently. Ultimately, you have to do whatever feels best for your body and try not to be discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. Building endurance and core strength takes time and won’t happen overnight. An essential part of running is perseverance to achieve your goals.

Also, make sure you’re taking care of your body. Exercise doesn’t make up for a lack of hydration or poor eating habits. Always make sure to hydrate properly and eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet in addition to exercising to make sure your body has the fuel it needs for your endurance-building workouts.

Gradual Adaptation is Key

“Slow and steady wins the race” is an old cliche rooted in profound truth, especially when it comes to improving endurance when running. “Gradual adaptation” means you need to have consistency, patience, and a slow build to whatever goal you’re trying to achieve. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your endurance won’t be either, even if you’re an experienced runner.

You have to fully commit to improving your endurance mentally before you’ll accomplish anything physically. Consistency is key, meaning you have to stick to your schedule once you start it. Runners tend to use the weekends to work on their long runs, so that’s an excellent place to start building up slowly.

During your long run over the weekends, start at a 5-mile goal. Next weekend, up it to six, then seven the following weekend. But, before you get too over-eager, take the 4th weekend to relax and rest, so you don’t overexert your body. You can resume the following weekend, pick up at an 8-mile distance, then moving to nine miles, and so on.

Make Sure to Engage in Yasso 800s

Coined by Bart Yasso almost 20 years ago, this running exercise is guaranteed to ensure you’re achieving the race time you’re aiming for. This exercise is named not only because of Yasso but because you have to run in 800-meter increments repeatedly. The trick is to complete the 800-meter segments at the same time of minutes and seconds you’re aiming for in hours and minutes for your full marathon run.

If you want to run a marathon in 3 hours and 25 minutes, your Yasso 800 time should be 3 minutes, 25 seconds. To incorporate this into your workout, all you have to do once a week is run them, starting with about four 800 meter segments at an appropriate pace. Then up how many you complete, adding one per week. Ideally, you’re ready for your marathon goal if you can run ten consecutive Yasso 800s at your goal time.

Make Sure You Run Long

As mentioned before, it’s important to remember that your body will react differently than someone else’s to these activities. So when it comes to long runs, sometimes slow is better, and other times fast yields better results. It all depends on the person.

Slow Pace

Continuously training at a more comfortable, slower pace helps raise endurance without risk of injury. Most runners make this mistake by training too hard at 90% of their athletic capacity, getting injured, and never reaching their fullest potential. To combat this, do the majority of your runs at 80% of your race pace of the equivalent distance. If you can complete a 10-mile race in 7 minutes, your training time should be 7 minutes multiplied by 1.25.

Fast Pace

In some cases, faster is better for endurance runners. Instead of training at 80%, follow the long and fast method by speeding up at the end of your long run. Going hard and fast at the last 25% of your run will help you push your body’s limits and get acclimated to what you’ll feel like during late-race fatigue when running a real marathon. Just don’t go so hard you collapse at the end!

Every Workout Needs to Count

It’s well known that you should alternate days while working out, so you have easy days and hard days intermixed with each other. Doing too much at once can take a negative toll on your body and hurt your progress. To combat this, you can dedicate three days of the week to training to push your limits, but not overexert yourself.

Having three hard training days per week and only running on those days will allow you to push yourself. Do a long run over the weekend, dedicate one day to a tempo run, and dedicate a different day to a speed workout with interval training. Consider tracking your workouts on a monthly calendar or planner.

Make sure to not just focus on running, but lifting weights too. Strengthening all parts of your body is key to building up endurance.

Take Care of Your Body and the Rest Will Follow

These are just a few critical tips on how to improve your endurance as a distance runner. Consistent exercise combined with a well-balanced diet and plenty of hydration will keep your body at peak condition so you can continue to build and improve your endurance. Make sure to listen to your body to know what exercises are working and which ones you may need to stop. Keep a consistent workout schedule, and with enough time and effort, your endurance will improve.