Updated: Jan 18
One of the most common difficulties for new runners is poor endurance. It's easy to become frustrated and discouraged when you find yourself getting winded every few minutes. The good news is that as a new runner, you're in a great position to improve your endurance quickly. You can easily start increasing the times and distances of your runs by following a few simple guidelines.
In this article, we will look at how you can improve your endurance, and get the most out of your runs.
Run at a Slower Pace
The first step to improving your endurance is to slow down your pace. New runners often make the mistake of treating every run as if it were a race, pushing themselves to the limit. Instead, most runs should be done at a relatively relaxed pace.
So, just how slowly should you go? One common recommendation is to run slowly enough that you could carry on a normal conversation throughout your run. For a new runner, this pace is often 12 or more minutes per mile. By slowing down to these speeds, you'll find that you don't get tired out nearly as quickly, and you can expect to see immediate improvements in your endurance.
Use Run/Walk Intervals
Another method you can use to build your endurance is to alternate between running and walking. Try running for a few minutes, then switching to walking for just long enough to feel refreshed. By breaking your run into different intensity levels, you'll be able to go for much longer, which will eventually lead to you running longer even without the walking breaks.
These run/walk intervals are a common way for runners to increase the length of their runs, and you can find a variety of run/walk training plans online to choose from. The run/walk technique will remain useful to you even as you progress beyond the beginning stages of running. Many runners even use run/walk intervals to help prepare for marathons. In fact, Bart Yasso even recommends intervals as a part of marathon training.
Follow a Consistent Schedule
If your endurance gains begin to plateau, make sure that you are following a consistent running schedule. During your first few weeks of running, your endurance will likely improve regardless of how sporadic your running schedule is. These easy gains won't last for long, though, and to continue developing, you'll need to start planning your running schedule more carefully.
A good beginner schedule should include about three to four runs each week. Your primary focus when planning your schedule should be consistency. Create a running plan that you know you'll be able to stick to every week. With a regular schedule in place, you'll see your endurance sky-rocket.
Focus on One Long Run Each Week
As you build your endurance, it's important not to overexert yourself. If you try to make every run your longest yet, you'll end up tiring out your body and possibly even injuring yourself. Instead, limit yourself to a single long run each week, and focus on increasing the length of that run gradually each week.
Many advanced runners recommend the "10% rule," which states that to prevent injury, your total mileage should only increase by 10% each week. As a new runner, you can improve your mileage by 10% by simply extending your long run bit-by-bit each week.
Take Rest Days
Finally, to build endurance effectively, you need to take rest days. Many runners have a natural tendency to push themselves as hard as they can, but unfortunately, this instinct proves counter-productive. Your body needs rest days for your muscles to repair themselves and skipping rest days will end up slowing down your development as a runner.
As a new runner, you should begin by taking a rest day after every single run. Only after your body grows accustomed to running should you start increasing the number of days you run each week. If you're struggling with endurance, simply taking more time to rest will likely give you the energy you need to go further on your next run.
Don't let your poor endurance become a source of discouragement. Many new runners struggle to increase the length of their runs, but building endurance doesn't have to be hard. By slowing your pace, introducing run/walk intervals, and focusing on consistent, gradual improvement, you'll see your endurance steadily increase every week.
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