What seems hard now can one day be your warm up run
Sometime in the future, a distance you find challenging now will feel easy. When that happens, you’ve increased your running endurance. So how do you improve it ? Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines. It needs consistent efforts, immense patience, focus and belief in self. It is gradual adaptation of your body.
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, there are some general guidelines I learnt to help perform better while staying injury-free.
1. Make every workout count
Include strength workouts, plyometrics, mobility, yoga into training. Correct form to focus target muscle groups. Get your feet up fast.
2. Do MAF (Maximum Aerobic Function) training
The theory behind MAF training, is to build up your aerobic base so that your body can learn to run faster and farther at a lower HR. This delays the time when your body needs to use the anaerobic system, which means you can run longer and faster before your body begins to tire. Let me tell you from my experience, it is a process and there are no quick fixes for it. For some time you may feel, you are a slow runner but believe me you will improve on a long term.
Many asked me how should we enjoy our runs? MAF runs allows an athlete’s mind to relax and enjoy the pleasure of the sport. More you enjoy, more you hit the road.
3. Consistency is key to show commitment
An increase in endurance comes from consistency, that means running multiple times per week for multiple weeks to accumulate fitness. The word discipline is important in consistency. Consistent training will build your aerobic base. Most smart watches nowadays will do these calculations for you, defining clear zones.
4. Run long
To run farther, you’re going to have to actually run farther! Do your long runs at a slow and sustainable pace; many people try to run fast and struggle to finish strong. Go slow and just focus on covering the distance. Remember, speed follows endurance. Slowly increase weekly mileage. Observe taper period if approaching race.
5. Include variety
Include variety in training like interval, fartleks and tempo runs. These are meant for endurance and speed. Try including hill runs. A routine can be the enemy of endurance. If you keep doing the same thing every day, your body is going to adapt and become comfortable at that level.
Switching up your workouts will prevent your body from plateauing. Move your muscles in different ways. It’s more motivating, more invigorating, and more efficient.
6. Eat for Endurance
It’s key to have carb rich food to ensure you have enough energy to cover the distance. If you find yourself tired, in a low mood or unable to complete your planned runs, then increase your carbs. Always go for complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, brown rice and oatmeal.
The farther you run, the more you’re challenging yourself and therefore need to ensure your body is recovering between sessions. Good recovery comes from a good diet, proper hydration, stretching and sufficient sleep. Aim to eat a quality meal or snack of carbs and protein within 30 minutes after finishing your run.
8. Running economy
Working on your techniques will make you a more efficient runner. If you run efficiently, you will be able to run farther without feeling as tired as you will use less energy. Run tall ensuring your foot lands under your center of gravity and a cadence of around 170 – 180 steps per minute.
9. Mind games
I always say, distance you think you will run will exactly the distance you will finally end up running. Mentally prepare for your longest run of the week will make it easier. One mile at a time, my race my pace. Some ways to make a long run seem less daunting are to break it down to 1 mile at a time, or focus on each step. Learn to know how you feel, how your body reacts after each effort. Set objectives and review after each run to improve.