Running is one of the most energy-intensive exercise options around, making it a great way to stay fit and healthy. Unlike leisurely jogging, running requires a greater effort from your heart, muscles, and lungs (1). New to running? You could be making some rookie mistakes that put your body under unnecessary pressure and reduce your stamina.
Here’s how to perfect your technique and preserve energy on your next run.
How to increase stamina for running
To an untrained eye, running might appear to be a fairly straightforward exercise. Simply pop on your running shoes and take one step after another in quick strides. Simple right? But if you’re new to long-distance running it’s important to think about how to pace yourself, maintain your technique and conserve energy.
For complete beginners, it’s best to start by walking for about 10 to 30 minutes each day (2). Once you can walk for 30 minutes without feeling out of breath, add one to two-minute running intervals. Over time, try increasing the running duration to about 30 continuous minutes (2).
When you’re asking yourself, how to increase stamina for running, unfortunately, there’s no quick fix! Slow and steady is the best approach to avoid injury and build up your cadence.
Make simple adjustments
While running, try making these simple adjustments to conserve your energy and keep the muscles from exerting maximum effort.
- Start with keeping the joint in your leg that’s hitting the ground as straight as possible. This is the leg that’s leading the strides. Getting this leg in line with the ground force can help to minimise unnecessary muscle force (3). That way, your muscles do not work against each other and serve you better in long-distance runs.
- It also helps not to swing your arms excessively to preserve your energy and hold them steady by your side.
Understand the running economy
A running economy is defined as the oxygen cost of running a certain distance at submaximal velocity (4). Simply put, it’s how much oxygen your body needs to run at a certain pace. The running economy is being studied as an important factor that explains changes in running performance. Understanding it can also help with answering questions on how to increase your stamina while running.
One factor of the running economy is stride length and frequency. A study (5) found that, on average, a trained runner’s optimal stride length and frequency is a minimal 3% faster or 3% slower than what they prefer. Even when they’re tired, trained runners produce a stride frequency similar to when they are at their best.
In comparison, beginner runners tend to have a larger difference between their preferred and optimal stride at 8%. Suggesting that experienced runners can manipulate the length and frequency of their stride in a way that sticks close to their optimal range despite fatigue. If you’re a beginner runner, aim to work towards a cadence that doesn’t burn you out too quickly or slow you down. Hot tip! Find a song that has a beat you feel great running to and use this to help you regulate your stride.
Another factor of the running economy is the amount by which your torso moves upwards with every step you take. A study has shown that keeping this movements to a minimum may slightly improve the running economy (5). It is believed that this lowers energy usage since the body is performing less work against gravity. That’s why you see professional sprinters or runners keeping their torsos locked in a position throughout their run!
Similarly, increasing the time when your foot swings forward and is not in contact with the ground can also help with running economy (5).
Several other factors may influence a person’s running economy, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach. What may work for one person may not necessarily work for you. If you want personalised advice to improve physical performance, consider consulting a coach or fitness expert.
Add strength training
One of the best answers to “how to increase stamina for running?” is to add strength or weight training to your overall running programme. Runners can benefit from improving muscular strength and fitness using targeted exercises or weights.
Running works out the lower body muscles: hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, and quads. It also involves the core muscles.
It helps to incorporate exercises that target these key muscle groups. Done properly, strength training (6) will not only preserve muscle mass but can also strengthen the bones and protect the joints. It can also contribute to better balance and reduce the risk of injury.
Drinking plenty of liquids sounds like a no-brainer but how much water do you need? It may help to understand the science behind hydration.
As you pick up the pace while running, the rate of heat production increases (7). Sweat evaporation is the primary way by which your body cools itself. In other words, you need to replace the fluids lost by drinking a sufficient amount of liquids.
Professional athletes drink about 200-800mL/hour to ensure there’s enough liquid available in their bodies (7). At the same time, you don’t want to drink excessive water that can slosh around your stomach. As a rule of thumb, drink according to what science calls “the dictates of thirst”, at no more than 400-800 mL/hour (7).
In addition to short-term strategies that you can try before and during the workout, you may also want to invest in a holistic health plan that optimises the effects of your healthy choices. Here are supplements that you can pair with a healthy lifestyle and diet to help improve your stamina for running:
Iron is an essential mineral present in several enzymes that are involved in energy production. Vitable’s Iron supplement can help support and maintain your energy levels.
*Iron should only be taken if prescribed by your doctor.
Ashwagandha is a medicinal herb in traditional Indian medicine known for its rejuvenation properties. Vitable’s Ashwagandha supplement can relieve fatigue and support energy levels.
If you push your body too hard after running, you may want to consider magnesium, which can help reduce mild muscle spasms and decrease the occurrence of muscle tension.
B complex is a group of vitamins that play an important role in optimal body function, including energy production, storage, and release. Vitable’s B Complex can also help convert food into energy and maintain energy levels.
The acetylated and bioavailable form of L-Carnitine is another must-have in your supplement pack given its important role in energy production. ALC transports long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria, which in turn, generates energy by combining fats, sugars, and oxygen.
While Vitamin C is best known for its role in strengthening immunity, our Vitamin C supplement can also support energy production and healing of minor tissue injuries.
Vitable’s Vitamin B12 supplement can support energy levels, help convert food into energy, and support energy production. Additionally, it can support calorie burning to help you achieve your weight goals through running.
While running has several benefits, it can take its toll on an unprepared body. You can take several steps to improve strength before running and embark on a more holistic approach to physical development that may include supplementation.
If you’re looking for personalised vitamins, look no further than Vitable. We offer a customised vitamin subscription box where you can mix and match multivitamin packs depending on your needs and health goals. It even comes with a vitamin delivery service to anywhere in Australia!
Learn more about the other health benefits of these supplements here:
*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.
- Better Health. Running and jogging - health benefits. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/running-and-jogging-health-benefits Accessed September 26, 2021
- HealthDirect. Running tips for beginners. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/running-tips Accessed September 26, 2021
- National Institutes of Health. (1991). Energy-saving mechanisms in walking and running. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1960518/ Accessed September 26, 2021
- National Institutes of Health. (2017). Running Technique is an Important Component of Running Economy and Performance. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5473370/ Accessed September 26, 2021
- National Institutes of Health. (2016). Is There an Economical Running Technique? A Review of Modifiable Biomechanical Factors Affecting Running Economy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4887549/ Accessed September 26, 2021
- Mayo Clinic. Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/strength-training/art-20046670 Accessed September 26, 2021
- National Institutes of Health. (2003). Fluid replacement during marathon running. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14501315/ Accessed September 26, 2021