Increasing the distance they run is a challenge for beginning runners, and can be a challenge for all endurance athletes. Sometimes the obstacles these athletes encounter are physical, sometimes mental, and sometimes both. Setting short- and long-term goals can help with the mental challenges of running. Don’t worry about how large or small your goal seems, just keep moving. There are several strategies that can help runners safely and effectively push their distances a little bit farther. For safety, keep your weekly mileage increases to no more than 10%.
Here are 6 ways to improve your cardiovascular endurance and increase the distance you run:
- Warm-up. Always perform an adequate, movement-based warm-up prior to your run. Forget about the “old-school,” pre-workout static stretching routine – current research overwhelmingly discourages it. An appropriate, dynamic warm-up can improve running efficiency and reduce potential problems like cramping and muscle tightness. And, as long as we’re addressing warm-up, always allow time to cool-down following your run.
- Get off the treadmill. Let’s be honest… running on the treadmill can be boring. Whenever weather conditions and safety allow, get outside and run. If necessary, invest in some cold-weather running gear. The great outdoors provides fresh air, great scenery, and an endless variety of paths and routes. Enjoying your natural surroundings can distract you and help keep your mind off your mileage.
- Change speeds. Don’t worry about keeping an aggressive pace for the entire length of your run. If and when needed, slow down to a very light jog, or even a walk. This strategy may enable you to cover more distance, and you’ll still get a great workout. As you progress, gradually increase your running time and reduce your light jog/walk time.
- Run with a partner. Research supports training with a friend. There’s nothing like a training buddy to push you, keep you motivated, accountable, and on-task. If you usually run alone, ask a friend or family member to join you. If that’s not an option, there may be a local running group you can join.
- Add HIIT. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) may be the single-best way to improve your muscular and cardiovascular endurance. HIIT involves alternating intervals of high- and low-intensity activity. Try adding this 10-minute HIIT routine to your plan: Run at as aggressive a pace as you can maintain for 30-seconds. Immediately follow with 90-seconds of light jogging. Repeat this 2-minute interval, four more times (five total).
- Get stronger. I’m sure you’ve noticed that strength training has become a common thread in my weekly articles. Running puts stress on your body. Strengthening your muscles and connective tissue can help to reduce the negative impact of running on your body. Increasing muscle endurance means going longer – more miles – before feeling fatigued. Strength training for 20-30 minutes, 2-3 times per week, is all you need to build and maintain muscle mass. My business partner, who is training for her first marathon, swears by yoga to improve hip strength, flexibility, and mobility..
Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!