Running seems to be a polarizing experience. Some people hate it while others can't seem to live without it. In truth, most people who take up running for the purposes of fitness eventually find that they enjoy more than just the health benefits it provides.
Within a short period of time, new runners will begin to see improvements in muscle tone and cardiopulmonary function. With regular, continued practice, endurance will improve. Those with a competitive spirit will enjoy running with friends or a local running club, as well as training for races, perhaps starting with a 5K and working all the way up to a marathon or even more challenging contests.
Running is an activity that can improve physical fitness, aid in weight loss, provide social activity, improve confidence, and generally make people feel good. However, inexperienced beginners may notice after a while that they seem to hit a plateau when it comes to increasing endurance.
This is not uncommon, and you'll be glad to hear that there are several strategies you can employ. Here are a few ways to boost endurance if you want to continue to challenge yourself and improve where running is concerned.
Check Your Gear
Those who are new to running may think that all running gear is created equally. This is hardly the case, however. Using the wrong gear can cause overheating, chafing, aches, pains, and other deterrents to improving.
You may therefor want to look for clothing that offers wick-away fabrics to keep you cool and dry, just for example. You should also test a variety of shoes to discover the pair that will provide the best support and help you to avoid injury.
Other gear could merely be helpful in keeping you safe and hydrated during runs. While the wrong running gear can impede your ability to improve endurance, the right gear will go virtually unnoticed while it improves your overall running experience.
Improving endurance requires you to continually challenge your body. Running the same 2-mile loop in your neighborhood day after day simply won't do the trick, at least not if you don't find a way to vary your routine.
This is where interval training can help. Instead of running at a steady pace, add variable speed challenges to your runs, alternating between sprints and jogging, for example. Boosting your breathing and heartrate at intervals can help you to recondition your body and improve.
You should, of course, speak to your doctor, physical therapist, or personal trainer before making any changes to your exercise routine, especially if you have a medical condition that could be affected.
Alternating speed with slow jogging is one way to boost endurance. Another is to change the terrain, especially by adding hills. If you're used to running on the flat, paved streets around your house, try taking to nearby trails that allow you the opportunity to go up and down in elevation, challenging your body in new ways.
No hills in your area? No problem. Find a local gym facility that offers jogging equipment with the option to add an incline.
If you've hit a plateau and nothing seems to be helping you improve your running endurance, you might want to mix up your routine by throwing in swimming, cycling, yoga, weight training, or other activities. This will force your body to adapt and strengthen in new ways, potentially improving your running performance in the process.
Nutritionis an important factor in any physical fitness pursuit, so you need to pay attention to what you eat (and how much). Speak with a nutritionist to see if your current diet might be holding you back, as well as what types of nutritional changes you can make to improve endurance and overall performance.
If you push your body to the limit, eventually you're going to break. The best way to improve performance is to give yourself adequate downtime to heal following challenging workouts.
Experienced runners know that training for a race and working to improve endurance requires increasing challenges, but also resting in between. If you injure yourself by training too hard, your progress will be derailed while you heal.
Taking a day or two off during training may seem difficult, but it's nowhere near as frustrating as having to stop training for weeks or months while recovering from an injury. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.