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How to Build Endurance for Running – The Best Guide for Athletes

Expand your limits.

How to build endurance for running is an important question, and useful knowledge to possess if you want to enhance your conditioning, general health and performance.

This article is aimed at beginner to intermediate level athletes.

Distance Periodisation

To run further, you’re going to have to actually run further! Sounds odd and overly simple but it’s amazing how many people simply run the same distances every time then wonder why they aren’t getting better.

Either increase your long run by 5–10 minutes or add 0.8–1.6 km (0.5–1 mile) each time.

It might not sound like much but it begins to add up.

Lauren Fisher running

When you get into a bigger volume of training for a half marathon or marathon, your long run should be roughly 30-50% of your total distance for the week.

Do your long run at a slow and sustainable pace; many people try to run their long run too fast and struggle to finish strong. Go slowly and just focus on covering the distance.

Remember, speed follows endurance. Make sure you can actually complete the desired longer distance before you even think about trying to improve your times.


To increase your aerobic capacity and improve your endurance to run farther than you can now, you need to train consistently.

Consistent training will build your aerobic base, increase your aerobic capacity (which is how much oxygen your muscles can use) and strengthen your muscles.

When you begin to add extra runs to your week, they should be easy and slow – speed follows endurance! You should aim for 3 to 4 sessions per week for 30 minutes or more. Aim to make one of these sessions your long run where you plan to go farther than any of your other runs that week.

How to Build Endurance for Running -Tempo Runs

These runs are normally run over a shorter distance, but at a higher pace than at which you normally train. Training like this trains your body to clear lactic acid from the bloodstream quicker, which means you can run longer before fatigue and lactic acid builds up and slows you down.

It will also make your easy running pace or planned race pace feel easier – these runs are the key to improving your running speed. Tempo runs should be a “comfortably hard” pace that lasts from 20-40 minutes and up to 60 minutes for more advanced runners.

They should not be an all-out effort that has you gasping for breath, but a challenging pace that you feel you can maintain over the duration of the run.

Build Better Core Strength

Your core is the foundation of the running movement and is essential for improving as an athlete.

The muscles in your abs, lower back, posterior chain and glutes stabilise and balance those of your lower body.

This allows these muscles to perform their duties without overcompensating for weaknesses in the lower and middle body. Your core ensures you maintain proper running form during challenges such as hills, sprints or the final leg of long distance runs, supporting tired muscles even when you are fatigued.

To run faster and longer, train your core muscles three times a week for optimal performance.

Focus on your glutes, lower back, hips and abs by doing strength training exercises for each area.

Effective core exercises for runners include:

  • Supermans
  • Glute bridges,
  • Planks,
  • Oblique crunches,
  • Medicine ball twists
  • Standing wood choppers

These exercises improve the muscle groups that build a solid core and protect the spine, helping you run with more efficiency and better form.

Improve your Recovery Economy

Working on your running technique 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.

Good technique comes from running tall (imagine a string holding you up), ensuring your foot lands under your centre of gravity and a cadence of around 170 – 180 steps per minute.

Please be aware that these are guidelines. There are many differences between running styles that all work very well. This is because people have different anatomies and the most important thing is to find the right way to run for you.

How to Build Endurance for Running -Understand How Training Works

This explanation from the Running Mate is an easy way to understand why you are doing what you are doing.

“This is the basic training principle that you have to internalize. Why? Because it shows you how improvement actually works. This is absolutely key to understand in order to design a good training program and get the most out of the hours you are working out.

As you can see in the graphic below, your body goes through different phases during and after a workout. These are:

how to build endurance for running

Setting a training stimulus

This is what happen during your training and actually the point of working out. Try to thing of training as telling your body that it needs to prepare to handle more work in the future.

Recover from the workout

Right after your training you’re obviously exhausted and your fitness level temporarily decreased. And now starts the most important phase of your training: Recovery. Why is this so important? If you conduct your next workout too early when your body has not yet completely recovered, you will constantly decrease your fitness level. You are then overtrained.


Supercompensation is the process of your body to adapt to the training stimulus and overcompensate so you’re ready to perform better than before the training session. To get the most out of your training, timing is key. You should wait and recover after a workout until supercompensation tops before your fitness level starts decreasing again.

As you can see timing your training is very important. But to know when your body is ready for the next training stimulus is not that easy. Experience and constant reflection on your training and how your body reacts to it is needed.”

How to Build Endurance for Running – Set a Goal

Whenever you train, it is especially important to keep your “why” in mind.

By simply creating, writing down and focusing on your goal you will be able to keep going when things get harder, and always have a mental object to return to.

Make this a SMART goal. Make it objective and measurable so that you are able to know when you have completed it.

How to Build Endurance for Running

So there you go, now you have the tools to understand how to build endurance for running. I wish you good luck and all the best.

Want to learn how to build speed? We break down How To Run a 5-Minute Mile.

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