If you’re starting to increase the distance of your long runs, and want to learn how to run longer without getting tired, stick around because I’ve got a bunch of helpful tips which will help you to improve your running endurance, so that you can run stronger for longer.
To increase your running endurance and stamina, you must train your aerobic energy system. Regular long runs at 70-80% of your maximum heart rate will keep you working in your aerobic training zone. This will improve your aerobic endurance and allow you to run for longer without getting tired.
This video will give you some more tips for mastering your long runs:
Ten Ways to Improve Your Running Endurance
Here are some of my favourite tips to help you improve your running endurance and run for longer.
1. Pace Your Long Runs Slowly
The big mistake so many runners make when they’re trying to increase the distance of their longer runs, is that they set off on a long run like it’s any other training run.
When it comes to running longer and improving your running endurance – which is ultimately the key to you being able to last longer when running – you need to be running in your aerobic training zone.
There are various ways you can use a heart rate monitor to work out your training zones, but in practice for most runners a simple rule of thumb is that if you’re getting out of breath, you’re running too fast to be training your aerobic system.
Running faster might feel more athletic, but in doing so, you’re not actually building your endurance.
You need to slow it down!
If you’re running with a friend, your long runs should be at an easy enough pace so that you can have an easy back and forth conversation.
And if you’re on your own, try focusing on the rhythm of your breathing and matching it up to your strides. When you’re running at an easy pace, you should be able to breathe in gently for 3 strides and out gently for 3 strides, without losing control of your breathing.
2. Run More Frequently
New runners often mistakenly think that the only way to run longer is to keep on making your long run that little bit longer each week… and of course, that is part of the puzzle.
But another hugely important factor is your overall weekly running mileage.
Let’s not forget that the ultimate goal of being able to run longer without getting tired, is all about improving your aerobic endurance.
Simply by running more easy paced miles every week, split across 3, 4 or 5 runs, you’ll notice over time that your running endurance, efficiency and economy all improve.
Of course, you should only aim to increase your weekly running mileage by around 10 percent each week to help avoid running injuries. Listen to your body and take at least one rest day per week.
Personally, my best marathon finish times have come when I’ve increased my weekly mileage consistently, rather than by pushing myself to run further during my long runs than I would normally do in marathon training. I know lots of other runners who have experienced the same thing.
3. Focus on Your Running Form
Right from the very start of your long run, you should be aware of key aspects of your running technique such as your running posture and your cadence. Hold yourself tall as you run and making short, light strides rather than heavy overstriding plodding strides.
These simple visualisations will help you to maintain proper running form.
However as your long run goes on, you might notice that your legs start to feel a little heavier as fatigue begins to kick-in. That’s a good sign, as it means you’re at the point where you’re really starting to challenge your body. As you then recover after your long run, you’ll actually grow stronger so that next time you’ll be able to run for longer without getting tired.
Here’s a tip that has helped so many runners I coach: When you do start to feel those heavy legs, switch your focus to your arms. If you maintain a quick rhythm with your arms, swinging back and forth, your legs will follow. It’ll allow you to maintain that high cadence and efficient short-light running strides for longer into your long run, rather than your legs getting heavy, slow and you beginning to over stride.
4. Hydration & Fuelling for Your Long Run
One of the most common reasons why runners struggle during their long runs, and on race day is poor hydration and fuelling.
As you run beyond approximately 90 minutes, your body will begin to run out of its glycogen stores, and you’ll begin to struggle to maintain the intensity of exercise. You’ll feel like you’re running out of energy and need to slow down or stop all together!
To prevent this, many runners aim to take on carbohydrate in the form of gels or sports drinks every 20 minutes during a long run.
Of course, everybody is different and you’ll have to experiment to see what works for your own digestive system.
Contrary to what I’ve just written, many endurance runners have turned their back on carbohydrate gels in favour of training their bodies to favour fat as a fuel source. You can find an interesting commentary on this approach right here.
Similarly, hydration is an important part of your ability to run for longer without getting tired. As your body becomes dehydrated, your running performance will deteriorate significantly. So make sure you get into the habit of drinking during your long runs. Aim to drink 0.4-0.8 litres per hour (L/h) or 8-16 ounces per hour (oz/h).
If you wait until you feel thirsty, it’s too late. You’re already dehydrated. So make a plan to drink periodically from the start of your run.
5. Follow a Training Plan
If you’re trying to increase the distance you can run, perhaps to race your first half marathon or marathon, it’s important you follow a structured training plan.
Running with less structure can certainly work, but doing so will most likely increase your risk of injury.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard runners tell me that they ran a little longer than planned, or faster than planned “because they felt great that day”, and then regret it when hit by an injury.
Don’t be that guy/girl!
Instead, take a look at my free first time half marathon training plan, or beginners marathon training plan.
These training plans will give you a good idea of how a progressive running training plan should look, and how I would suggest you increase your long run distance week-on-week to help you run for longer without getting so tired.
6. Warm-Up Before You Run
Believe it or not, time and energy invested into a good warm-up before you even start running will actually help the first mile or two to feel so much easier. Not only that, you’ll be less likely to get injured, which is a huge deal for any runner.
Here’s a running warm-up routine for you to try before your next long run:
In addition to this, be sure to start your long run nice and slowly, and build into the first few miles gradually.
7. Run with a Partner to Run Longer
Somebody once said that running is 90% mental… and I think they were onto something!
I’ve always found that the distraction of having company on a long tun can help the miles pass much more quickly. As soon as you get lost in a conversation, you’ll find that time seems to pass much more quickly.
Of course, you should choose your running partner carefully, both in terms of pace, running ability, and conversational skills, or the opposite effect may be true. Nobody needs that!
8. Recover Properly Between Long Runs
It’s important that you listen to your body and prioritise recovery between long runs, and hard workouts in your running training plan.
When trying to increase your long run distance, running on tired legs isn’t going to do you any favours.
Of course, there is a time and place for training on tired legs, especially if you’re in the middle of a marathon training programme, for example. But if you’re simply trying to be able to run for longer without getting tired, perhaps consider taking a rest day before your long runs.
9. Wear Comfortable Running Shoes & Clothing
Many years ago, when I used to work in running retail, I used to tell runners multiple times a day that if their new running shoes feel a little uncomfortable here, a but tight there, or perhaps rub a bit, it’s only going to get ten times worse 10 miles into a long run.
In fact in the world of running shoes, where science and marketing are often at odds with one another, there’s a strong suggestion from researchers that we should be dispose of the ‘cushioning and support’ paradigm of running shoe recommendations, in favour of choosing our shoes based on comfort!
The same thought process rings true when we talk about the rest of your running gear. Whether it’s shorts, leggings, socks, t-shirts etc… if a garment rubs uncomfortably during a 5K run, don’t even think about running your long run in it.
10. Strength Training for Runners
The last tip I have for you to help you run longer without getting so tired is less about running, and more about getting strong in the key muscle groups that us runners use.
If you spend 20-30 minutes 2-3 times each week doing exercises to strengthen your core muscles, activate your glutes and build strength in your legs, not only will running feel easier, you’ll also notice that you sustain fewer running injuries.
The link below will take you to an article containing everything you need to know about strength training for runners…