Now is the perfect time to keep it simple and knock out a regular routine of running to set you up for better racing during the coming months. This is where a consistent run of regular training matters. Dipping in and out with your training in a stop/start fashion simply won’t see you make the endurance gains you’d like. Instead, regular, consistent running (three or more times a week for six weeks or more) will really bring about endurance-boosting benefits. Consistency is king.
It goes without saying that to build endurance, you should ‘go long’. Running long means spending time on your feet, typically at a low intensity. Let’s acknowledge that a long run means different things to different people. Yet, for endurance gains, long runs start at 60 minutes and, although they can be limitless in their duration, it’s important to understand that super long runs (more than three hours) can start to become more destructive than constructive.
How to boost your endurance by mixing up your long runs:
i) Long run longer: go longer than you’ve gone before. Build up the time on your feet and the distance covered on your longer runs to move your endurance to a new level. Stick to low-intensity running as you build up gradually.
ii) Long run more often: stringing together blocks of long runs really helps boost your endurance. A word of caution, however: remember the importance of balance and recovery when you plan your long runs.
iii) Long runs faster: once you’ve developed a strong foundation, instead of continuing to complete your long runs at an easy pace, up the ante and pick up the pace of your long run. Try a ‘fast finish’ long run where you pick the pace up throughout the run.
Yep, I’m afraid it’s true. Volume does matter with endurance. Building frequency (how many times a week you run) will help you to improve your running economy, endurance and efficiency. Simply spending more time in your running shoes exposes your body to greater demands, shortens recovery between workouts, and increases the endurance demands you place it under.
When you think ‘strength’, do you associate it with heading to gym and lugging about some big weights with the heavies? If so, think again! The best strength workouts for endurance runners are about conditioning, stability and control to support consistent training, not lifting big weights. A well-structured strength and conditioning programme offers two major benefits: the prevention of running-related injuries and improved running efficiency.
Long known as the mainstay of the hardiest, toughest and strongest runners, cross-country running is the foundation for building strong endurance. Getting muddy and heading off-road is great for improving stamina and aerobic endurance as well as leg and ankle strength and stability. A strong cross-country runner is tough, versatile, robust and ready to tackle anything. Hitting the hills, trails, open fields and woodlands will really help to develop your endurance in the autumn.
It’s time to pull up your big boy pants if you really want endurance-boosting results. Successful training is about commitment. Tough commitment demands that no matter what else takes place, where you are, how you are feeling or what the weather is like, your run gets done. Being fierce and ruthless in your running, continuing when things get difficult, getting your head down in training: these are what matter most.