Sometimes, even for the most die-hard fitness fanatics, nothing beats a good run. The excitement of exploring new terrain, and the exhilaration of reaching that infamous ‘runners high’ are unparalleled.
If you’re new to running though, you might not share this joy. Building up endurance takes time and dedication. Without it, you may be falling on your face after 2k, and dreading the thought of ever wearing lycra again.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way. If you want to run for longer without getting so tired, you may be surprised to know that building up your endurance isn’t as complicated as it might sound.
Sure, there’s no quick route to becoming a super fit running machine, but with a little knowledge and dedication, you can get yourself on the fast track to success.
Ready to get started? Stick with us to find out eight ways to run for longer without getting so tired.
Run More Often
If you’re getting tired quickly and feeling defeated by your poor endurance levels, this is probably not what you want to hear. However, it’s a very important part of the process.
Increasing your endurance doesn’t just involve making each run a little longer, it also means increasing your overall running frequency.
Consistency creates stamina, and the best way to improve stamina is to improve your aerobic capacity.
All forms of training can improve aerobic capacity, but some are more effective than others. Running consistently will increase your aerobic base, which in turn, increases your aerobic capacity. To understand this process, we need to take a quick look at the science.
With aerobic base training, the focus is on improving your ability to retain and use oxygen. This is your aerobic capacity, otherwise known as VO2 max.
Gradually increasing the number of miles you run in each week will slowly improve your aerobic base and capacity which in turn, increases your endurance. The result? You can run for longer, without getting tired!
However, to avoid any unnecessary strain or injury, you should up your weekly running mileage slowly. You should aim to include one extra run a week, ideally no longer than a mile.
Once you can do this successfully, you increase the number of miles slowly, making each run slightly longer than the last. Remember: only up the mileage at a maximum rate of once per week.
Practice Strength Training
Improving your running form is a great way to increase endurance. You can improve your running form by including more strength training in your workouts.
Strength training refers to any exercise completed against resistance. This could mean using resistance bands, weights, and even your own body weight. So, how exactly is this good for runners?
Strength training helps runners maintain muscle mass. When you improve the efficiency of your muscles, you use energy more efficiently – in other words, you don’t get so tired after exercise!
Running uses several key muscles. These are:
- Rectus Abdominis
If you want to improve the efficiency of these muscles in strength training, you could perform any of the following exercises:
- Mountain Climbers
- Dumbbell Row
- Single-Leg Deadlift
As a general guide, you should aim to do two sets, with no more than 10 to 12 repetitions per exercise. Take a 1-2 minute rest between sets if required. Like any other exercise, remember to warm up first!
Warm-ups can include running on the spot or stretching your legs, and you should warm-up for at least 3-5 minutes before you begin.
If you’re new to running, to avoid injury, you should complete these exercises on a day when you’re not running.
Invest In The Right Gear
This doesn’t mean you need to be kitted out from head to toe in the trendiest running gear. However, if you’re taking running seriously, invest in quality running clothing, including leggings, tops, and most importantly, shoes.
You might be tempted to buy running trainers online (especially if you find a good deal); however, you should always go to a specialist shop and try them on in person, especially if you’re new to running.
You need shoes that can provide support and flexibility, so make sure you talk to a professional.
You’ll probably be asked what type of terrain you run on and how often you run, and some reputable stores can even analyze your gait to offer a more accurate fit. You can even ask for advice on what socks to wear and whether you need lightweight or trail running shoes.
The same applies to clothing – always try items on in-store, and look for clothing that’s breathable, moisture-wicking, and a comfortable fit. Wearing ill-fitting clothes on a run can make you uncomfortable and slow you down, so make the investment and take your outfit seriously!
Try Interval Running
Interval running is one of the best ways to improve stamina. Whether you’re a marathon master or a nervous novice, interval running is suitable for runners of all levels.
Interval training involves performing quick, intense bursts of exercise followed by a short rest. Interval workouts are an excellent way to increase your VO2 max and overall stamina.
However, the length and intensity of each exercise should be tweaked to suit your current fitness level – in other words, don’t go overboard and injure yourself.
If you want to try interval running, give the following exercise a go:
- Head to your favorite running spot and complete a short warm-up. Ideally, you should begin jogging at a slow pace continuously for five minutes.
- Once you’ve completed your five-minute warm-up, increase the intensity by sprinting at your maximum capacity for at least 30 seconds. Now, cool down with a one-minute slow jog.
Depending on your fitness level, you should try and repeat this cycle between five to eight times. Always finish your exercise by cooling down with a slow jog for a few minutes to avoid damaging your muscles.
If you’re feeling confident, you can tweak this exercise by performing it on hilly terrain or increasing the number of repetitions.
Improve Your Diet
Food is fuel. If you’re not eating the right foods, you may find yourself struggling to run faster for longer.
Thankfully, there are several ‘power foods’ that runners swear by to keep them fit and healthy and improve their overall running form. Generally, anything with carbs, protein, lots of vitamins, and iron will benefit your health – even if you’re not a runner!
Let’s take a look at some of the best foods for runners.
- Oats: Oats are loaded with carbs, and they’re low in the glycemic index. This can help regulate blood sugar levels and keep you feeling fuller for longer. They’re also high in protein and iron, which makes them a great pre or post-workout food.
- Bananas: Bananas are one of the best snacks for runners. They’re healthy, carb-heavy, and packed full of vitamins like B6, Vitamin C, and Potassium, which can prevent dehydration and cramps.
- Salmon: Salmon is a rich source of protein, and it’s loaded with heart-healthy fats like Omega 3. This makes it an excellent food for repairing muscles and improving your general health.
Running for longer and improving the intensity of your workouts is one of the best ways to improve your stamina. However, recovery time is just as important. You should always listen to your body.
Running on tired legs will increase your chances of injury, and excessive exercise can be harmful to your general health. Make sure you take regular rest days between intense workouts, and more importantly, make sure you’re recovering correctly!
A good recovery day should involve eating protein-rich foods, staying hydrated, bathing your muscles, and performing little to no physical exercise. Your recovery time will depend on your general fitness level and the intensity of your workouts.
As a general rule, anywhere between 24 to 48 hours is prime. However, if you find that you’re still in a lot of pain after a long recovery period, you should consult your doctor to ensure you haven’t sustained any serious injuries.
Improve Your Mental Strength
Just like physical strength, your mental strength can also be trained. Some runners can run incredible distances not just because of their fitness levels but also because of their mental strength and their ability to persevere and remain consistent.
This definitely doesn’t mean you should ignore your body if you’re on the brink of collapse. Training your mental strength is about pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, putting your mind to a task, and achieving it, while remaining aware of your own limitations.
So, how exactly can you improve your mental strength? Let’s take a look at some of the most popular exercises tried and tested by runners of all levels.
Meditation is scientifically proven to lower your cortisol levels and reduce stress. Meditating before a run can help enhance your focus, and improve your mental resilience, so you can keep running for longer without getting tired from the emotional stress.
Visualization is a technique used by runners of all levels to improve their running performance. Before your run, use all five senses to visualize your run, imagine the positive outcomes, and visualize your success.
This task can also be used throughout your run. It’s a useful way to avoid focusing on your physical tiredness, so you can push through to the end of your workout.
Talking To Yourself
No, we promise you won’t look crazy! Positive affirmations are a popular technique used by runners, and psychologists even recommend them to their patients. Positive affirmations could be any of the following:
- I am less tired with each mile I run
- I am prepared, focused, and ready to complete my run
- I am filled with energy and excitement
Positive affirmations can improve your confidence, self-worth, and mental resilience, so if you haven’t tried them already, now is the time!
Rule Out Medical Conditions
For most runners, applying a few simple tweaks to their diet and exercise routine is the key to avoiding tiredness when running.
However, suppose you’ve tried everything you can think of to improve your running form, including a diet and exercise overhaul, without success. In that case, your next step should be to eliminate any medical conditions.
If you’re experiencing persistent fatigue that’s not improving, you should talk with your doctor to eliminate any of the following conditions:
Fatigue can be a symptom of many food allergies and sensitivities, including gluten, eggs, wheat, and dairy products. If left untreated, allergies or sensitivities can cause adrenal fatigue, where your adrenal glands produce too much cortisol to try and reduce inflammation.
Type 2 diabetes is one of the leading causes of chronic fatigue. If you’re struggling to get through the day without experiencing persistent fatigue, even when you’re not running, your doctor may wish to check your glucose levels and rule out diabetes.
Tiredness is one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency. Usually, an iron deficiency can be resolved by enriching your diet with foods high in iron or taking prescribed supplements.
If you’re experiencing any other symptoms of iron deficiency, you should talk to a doctor to get tested and receive advice on improving your diet and reducing your symptoms.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
CFS is a relatively common but debilitating condition that can cause excessive tiredness and weaken your immune system. Unfortunately, physical activity can often worsen the symptoms of CFS.
If you’re experiencing chronic fatigue along with symptoms like headaches, joint pain, feeling dizzy, or heart palpitations, talk to your doctor to rule out this condition.
To avoid getting tired when running, you’ll need to assess several factors, from your diet and health to your workout routine and general fitness levels.
With a few simple tweaks to your lifestyle, it’s possible to improve your running form safely and increase your general endurance so you can run for longer and become healthier in the process.