Running A-Z: E is for Endurance, How to Build Running Endurance

Welcome to the latest installment of Running A-Z where I cover a running related topic following the order of the alphabet. This week we are talking about how to build running endurance without risking injury. 

If you are a distance runner or want to be, you should be focusing on building your cardiovascular endurance. Running endurance is how long you can run. A new runner may be looking to build their endurance so they can run a 5K without stopping and a more experienced runner may want to run a full marathon. These are both great goals that require the same process. 

Gradual Adaption

The safest way to build endurance is through gradual adaptation. This means that you must not rush the process. It takes time, consistency and patience to build endurance without risking injury. If you are new to running this process will take longer than someone who already has an established running base. Be patient.

Rules of Running Endurance 101

Never increase intensity (speed) and volume (milage) in the same week. This means if you are doing speed work to increase your pace, your overall mileage for the week should remain the same that week. On weeks where you increase your milage do not also increase the intensity of your workouts. 

Increase milage by approximately 10% per week. Every 4th week, drop the milage to allow your body a chance to recover. 

All endurance training running should be done at a conversational (slow) pace. This means you should be able to have a conversation with your coach or running partner for the duration of the workout. If you are breathing heavily, you should slow down (to a walk if necessary). Once you build endurance for a particular distance, you can then work on speed to cover that distance faster. 

Rest days and easy mileage weeks are essential to successful endurance training. Overtraining will lead to injuries and depleted energy. It may be tempting to push harder and run longer in hopes of achieving faster results, but this will often backfire. It is during the recovery periods that your body adapts and grows stronger. Always allow rest days in between effort session (fast or long runs) for proper recovery. 

Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night. If you are going to bed at midnight and getting up a 5am for your training run, you are not doing your body any favors. Sleep is mandatory for a recovery.

See my post on nutrition for runners for more tips on how to effectively fuel for running.

Are you working on your cardiovascular endurance? How can I help? 

Coach Lea

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