Running Tips: Increasing Endurance and Distance for Newbies

Running Tips Increasing Endurance and Distance for Newbies

Running Tips for Anyone

New to running? Do you want to increase your distance and endurance but really don’t know how? Instead of trial error, check out these running tips from a seasoned pro to help you go the distance!

Boost your performance with these running tips

Humans have been running for virtually as long as we have been humans – catching our food and likewise, running away from becoming food – and especially in the last fifty years, recreational running has boomed in popularity at unprecedented rates.

More and more “regular” people – that is, non-professional runners, folks who run just because they like to – are registering and completing neighborhood 5ks and 10ks all the way up to half marathons and marathons than ever before.

Well before runners can effortlessly knock-out a 5k, 10k, half marathon, or even full marathon distance, however…

It’s imperative that runners first build their endurance so they can handle the race distance.

Very few people are athletically capable of just showing up to a race and completing the distance, and most people who do choose to go that route usually end up regretting it!

Running Tips Increasing Endurance and Distance for NewbiesIf you’re new to the running community, please let me first welcome you into our lovely family. I may be biased, but I’m convinced that runners are some of the best humans I’ve ever met.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner in our sport or if you’ve been around forever; we were all beginners at some point, and chances are, we can share with you some horror stories about our mistakes that we made when we started out so you can avoid doing the same. We’re all in this together, friends.

Based on my own years of running and racing endurance races, from 5ks all the way up to trail ultramarathons, here are some of my personal running tips for how newbie runners can safely increase their distance and endurance:

Slow is the new fast

Generally speaking, runners are type-A personalities who thrive on the demands of a training schedule, and we like to check-off each and every box on our schedules each day and do everything to 110% of our abilities. This can be well and good for most areas of life, but when it comes to safely increasing your distance and endurance as a newbie runner, it gets tricky.

It can be really tempting to want to run as hard as you can, day after day are you start out, but please: don’t. Running is a full-body effort, one that can tax nearly every muscle in your body, and if you’re running at 100% of your speed every single day, you’re bound to injure yourself. Instead, especially when you’re first beginning, take things slowly.

You should be able to effortlessly talk or even sing when you’re casually running. Even when you’re marathon training, most of your training runs are comfortable and on the slower side of things, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking that to be a “real” runner, you have to run really fast all the time.

Don’t worry about others seeing you out running and judging you for being “slow.” If anything, they’re probably jealous that you’re out running and they’re not.

Go for the gradual build with a run-walk strategy

Running Tips Increasing Endurance and Distance for NewbiesSimilar to the above point about going slowly more often than not, if you’re first beginning with running, one way to safely increase your endurance and distance on each run is to regularly incorporate run-walk ratios into your routine.

This can take on numerous shapes, but for starters, consider following a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio – that is, running for three minutes (at a comfortable pace) and walking for one minute.

Running and walking tax your muscles and bones in different ways, and incorporating both elements into your cardiovascular exercise program will allow you to reap the benefit from each type of movement.

In addition, regularly incorporating walk breaks will let your heart rate recover momentarily, and it will also allow you to catch your breath a little more easily than you can when you’re running (though remember, you should not be running at all-out efforts!). Many accomplished (and very fast) marathoners use run-walk strategies in their races, so do not think that using these types of programs will make you a slow runner.

Ten percent is the golden rule, sorta

When you’re first beginning a running program, the general rule of thumb is to not increase your week-over-week running volume and distance by more than ten percent. While this rule typically works for most people, it is admittedly a bit arbitrary, because it all depends on your starting point.

An alternative: look at your running volume each week, consider how your body is feeling as a result of the stress of running, and if you are feeling well and without any significant aches and pains, gradually increase your mileage each week.

For example, if you run 15 miles one week and finish feeling strong and in no pain, consider bumping the next week’s mileage to 18 miles.

Most experts and coaches would consider jumping from 15 miles per week to 30 to be pretty egregious and unsafe, especially when you’re first beginning, so even if you feel absolutely amazing, err on the conservative side when you’re first beginning.

Cross-train to strengthen the chassis and the engine

While running is an incredible workout, one that uses virtually every muscle in your body, it limits you to moving in only one plane of motion. Consequently, runners often find themselves with full-blown injuries or overuse symptoms because they’re constantly only using their muscles in one way.

Particularly when you’re first beginning to incorporate running into your fitness routine, consider also including cross-training days – other non-running workouts that can help you supplement your running but also give your “running muscles” a break.

Many runners enjoy the benefits they get from swimming, pool running, or cycling and find that these types of no-impact activities can still leave them feeling like they had a good workout but without the pounding from running.

Escape to the trails

Runners have the enormous benefit of being able to run virtually anywhere – indoors or outdoors – and one of the best places we have at our disposal to run is trails. Depending on where you live, trail running might include running through shaded and flat forest preserves or even hilly, technical, and exposed singletrack up steep mountains or cliffs.

When you’re new to running, including some trail running in your mix can be a great way for you to increase your endurance and distance because you’ll also be (covertly or not-so-covertly) including hillwork into your routine – and running or power-walking-or-hiking hills is a wonderful way to become a stronger and more enduring runner.

Trail running taxes your muscles in different ways than does regular road running, and it also can be gentler on your body, thanks to the softer-than-pavement terrain. Make sure you have the proper running shoes!

Work with a coach

Running Tips Increasing Endurance and Distance for NewbiesFinally, perhaps one of the best investments you can make when you’re first beginning to run is to pay to work with a coach.

Typically, running coaches usually have many years of personal experience with running, in addition to several more years of coaching other runners – and more often than not, coaches work with amateur athletes.

A coach can help tailor a training plan specifically to you, taking into consideration your own strengths, weaknesses, and history, and a coach can also help ensure that you’re safely progressing in distance and workouts each week.

In fact, one of the best benefits of using a coach is knowing that each workout you get is personalized specifically for you! Unfortunately, many runners – both experienced and newbies – get injured each year because they start off by doing TMTSTF – too much (distance), too soon (not giving themselves enough time to reap the training adaptations), and too fast (running faster than they should be or accelerating in intensity in workouts faster than necessary) – but working with a coach one-on-one will help mitigate the risk.

Local running clubs often offer in-person coaching services, but there is also a host of running coaches available online; it’s just a matter of finding the best coach-athlete fit. Do your research thoroughly before committing to working with someone.

Wrap-Up

Running is a wonderful activity and community to belong to, and it’s likely that the longer you stick with it, the more interested you will become in increasing your endurance and also increasing your distance.

Running isn’t without risk, though, so as a general rule, when you’re first beginning, err on the side of caution more often than not, and if at all possible, consider working with a coach to help minimize your risk for injury.

With these running tips, before too long, you’ll be running longer and farther than you could have ever imagined.

Dan Chabert
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Running Tips: Increasing Endurance and Distance for Newbies