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How to Improve Running Stamina

author image Wendy Fryer
Wendy Fryer holds a Master of Science in exercise physiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has more than 15 years of experience managing health clubs and working with clients.
How to Improve Running Stamina
Building running stamina requires cardiovascular and resistance training, along with proper nutrition. Photo Credit lzf/iStock/Getty Images

Whether your goal is to increase your daily running mileage or total weekly miles, you can improve your running stamina by following an effective training program. The appropriate program combines weekly training runs and regular resistance training with proper nutrition, as each piece of the program provides an essential function in building stamina.

Step 1

Run more miles each week. You can increase your total running volume by increasing either the distance of each run or adding more runs. This allows your body to develop the systems needed to get more blood and oxygen to the muscles that are working. However, limit the increase to no more than 10 percent per week to allow the body time to adapt and reduce the risk of injury. In other words, if you run 15 miles this week, you should aim to run no more than 16.5 miles next week.

Step 2

Include one tempo run per week. A tempo run is done at approximately 80 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate, or about 30 to 40 seconds slower than your 5k race pace, often described as "comfortably hard." Tempo runs challenge the lactate threshold, or the point where the muscles become fatigued. With regular tempo runs, the body will adapt and the lactate threshold will become higher.

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Step 3

Incorporate a resistance workout two to three times per week, focusing on all of the major muscles groups of the body. Resistance can come from free weights, machines, body weight or bands, depending on what is available. At a minimum, the strength program should include squats, push-ups and planks because the combination of these three exercises will strengthen all of the major muscles of the body. As time allows, additional benefit would be gained from including more muscle-specific exercises such as dead lifts, rows, biceps curls and triceps extensions. Increasing muscle strength and endurance trains the muscles to work longer before reaching fatigue and that translates to being able to run longer.

Step 4

Consume a nutritious diet, high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein and low in fat to ensure you have enough energy to complete your run. The diet of a runner should be made up of 60 to 70 percent carbohydrates, 12 to 15 percent from protein and no more than 30 percent from fat sources, according to MarathonGuide.com. Runners must also focus on staying well hydrated, drinking water regularly throughout the day and before, during and after workouts.

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