Distance runners need endurance to get them through a long run, but it takes time and commitment to build this crucial element. There are a few steps you can take, however, to boost your stamina even more and help you power through that extra mile. By incorporating one or more of these tricks, you can increase your endurance and fight off exhaustion during a long run.
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According to Jeff Rochford, a certified coach with the U.S. Track and Field Association, the key to building running endurance is to do it gradually. Beginners should use a plan that relies on running every other day, with several minutes of brisk walking at the beginning and end of each run. Try a six-week plan that starts with just five minutes of running. During weeks one and two, add one minute to each run so you are running for 12 minutes going into week three. In week three, tack on two extra minutes to each run, and add three minutes to your runs during week four. During weeks five and six add four minutes for every run. By the end of the six weeks, you will have gradually increased your endurance from five minutes to 64 minutes.
Instead of running on a flat surface, add some incline to your running workout to help boost your endurance. Like any alteration to your regular routine, hill running should be gradually incorporated so you’re not doing too much too soon. Introduce these to your regular runs by adding a half-mile to one mile at a moderately steep incline to your run every two to three weeks. Keep the pace comfortable so you don’t burn out, and gradually increase the distance of the hill segments.
Plyometrics, or jump training, is based on the notion that explosive movements and quick reactions can improve overall athleticism, including stamina. Activities like jumping, skipping and high-knee sprints can train your feet to spend less time on the ground, improving your stride and boosting your endurance. Incorporate plyometric training once or twice weekly by practicing fast feet runs, where you sprint 15 to 20 yards with a short, quick stride. You can also try five-minute segments of single- or double-leg hops or skipping.
In addition to physical training, there are a couple of other unconventional tricks for boosting endurance that are worth mentioning. One of these that is done during hot, summer months is pre-cooling, which involves lowering your body’s temperature prior to exercise. German researchers published findings in "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise" that showed an average 3.7 percent increase in endurance due to pre-cooling, which can be achieved simply by sipping a cold drink and sitting in an air-conditioned room for 25 minutes prior to exercising. Another trick is to down beet juice shots, which are packed with inorganic nitrate, which can improve stamina.