Building up enough stamina to compete in a long endurance race – such as a marathon or ultra-marathon – might be easier than you think. The key is to focus on every aspect of your running routine: it’s not just how you train your body, but also what you eat and how you train your mind. Here are 5 tips on how to increase stamina when running.
Tip #1: Establish a schedule and keep to it
You’re not going to go from running a 5K race to running a marathon overnight. Instead, you need to establish a schedule for endurance training that you can keep. As a general rule of thumb, you want to be increasing mileage on a regular basis, preferably weekly. Your goal should be to increase mileage by about 10 percent weekly. This enables your body to adapt to your new training regimen without significant risk of injury.
Tip #2: Change your diet
If you are marathon training (or perhaps training for an ultra marathon), your body will need plenty of “fuel” to keep running. Thus, it’s worth the time to really think about what kind of nutrition you are getting on a weekly basis. Your diet should have plenty of protein, iron, calcium, fiber and carbohydrates. That means plenty of green leafy vegetables, fruit, lean meat, fish and eggs. And, of course, you should be hydrating your body regularly with water. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel, and how much more energy you have, just by making some tweaks to your diet.
Tip #3: Vary your running terrain
It’s also important to vary your terrain for endurance running. You can do this outside, by choosing to run some days off-road. Or, if you belong to a gym, you can use a treadmill and change the level of the incline. The greater the angle of the incline, the harder you will be working. It will be the equivalent of running uphill both coming and going. All of that “hill work” is really going to pay off on the day of the big race, when it will seem relatively easy running on a straightaway.
Tip #4: Add in sprints and step work to your running routine
If you really want to push yourself as part of your endurance training, you might want to consider adding in high-intensity anaerobic exercise to your weekly aerobic exercise routine. For example, do sprints at the end of every long run. Run stadium steps (or steps at the local park) to build stamina. You’ll find yourself panting and gasping for breath, but you will be making your lungs and heart more powerful.
Tip #5: Change your running pace
With the proliferation of new digital fitness bands on the market today, it’s relatively easy to track exactly how hard you are pushing yourself. To build stamina, you can try varying your running pace. This could mean running shorter distances at a faster pace, or running longer distances at a slower pace.
And, of course, don’t forget about the mental benefits of being able to visualize yourself competing in an endurance running competition. The power of positive thinking is what can help you to power through pain and discomfort while running. So you might want to set aside part of your endurance training each week for meditation and light stretching. This can help you to re-focus and keep you energized to meet your running goals.