With marathon season in full swing, many runners are left wondering how to build endurance to master those longer distances. With determination and a personal commitment to work hard, those longer distances can be mastered by most.
The first step is to be consistent with your running training. You are not going to want to miss your runs or cut your planned distances very often. Consistency is the key to stepping up the mileage and building endurance. Your workouts that seem hard now, will eventually become much easier. This is how you will be able to judge your personal endurance level. Running coaches will often say that the workout you do now will someday be your warmup, and it’s true!
When adding mileage, you will want to increase your distance by 10% per week and slow your pace down a little. The focus will be primarily getting in that extra mileage and being able to finish strong. As you continue to build endurance, your pace will increase as well. Attempting to increase your mileage by more than 10% in one week will leave you at a greater risk for annoying setbacks such as shin splints, joint pains, and burn out. Take the time to do it right, and the extra mileage will be a fun challenge.
Focusing on your technique is also important. A running coach can help monitor your form to make sure you have good alignment. Bad running form can cause injuries and also make you work at a much higher level of effort than necessary.
Diet also will play a big role in building endurance. You will need complex carbs to fuel your runs and to keep your blood sugar stabilized. 55-65% of your calories should be from complex carbs. This will also aid in your recovery as well. The body is a machine. It needs a clean diet to run its best.
Mental strength will also play a big role in achieving success at higher mileage. You will need to find a mantra to repeat to yourself when it gets hard, to remind yourself that you can do it. “I am strong!”, “I can do this!”, or “I am powerful!”, are all examples of mantras that runners will use to get them through those tough moments in training and racing. Find one that is personal and meaningful to you. Distance runners often agree that the first half of a marathon is run with your legs and the second half is run with your mind. You will need to fight those urges to quit when you become tired.
Building endurance is a very rewarding experience and opens the playing field to new distances to compete in. Whether you are training for your first 5k or training for your first marathon, these steps can help any runner improve the quality of their runs!