How to Increase Running Endurance

How to Increase Running Endurance

At some point in your running journey, you’ll wonder how to increase running endurance.

Let’s step it up to the next level!

Whether the next level is a 5K or a half marathon, you need to increase running endurance the correct way (spoiler alert: it doesn’t happen overnight).

Read on to learn exactly how to build endurance and make yourself into a better long distance runner!

What Does Endurance Mean?

Merrium-Webster Dictionary defines endurance as:

the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity

And if that’s not what running 3+ miles is, then I don’t understand the world.

Why do Runners Want to Increase Running Endurance?

How to Increase Running Endurance - What is Endurance

To run longer, and/or faster, a runner must boost running endurance.

This means you’ll be able to sustain running over an increasingly longer distance (after training properly, of course).

If you’re also training for speed, you’ll soon be able to run faster AND longer.

It’s a long distance runner’s dream!

So how do runners safely increase running endurance? Let’s see…

First: Define Your Goals

How to Increase Running Endurance - Define Goals

To start off, be honest with yourself.

What is your current fitness level?

Are you a beginner or already running 60 minute runs?

Answering this question honestly leads to the next part: defining your goal (or goals).

Is your goal to run your first 10K? Your first half marathon? Your tenth marathon?

Selecting a specific goal helps define exactly how to increase your running endurance, and what running endurance will mean related to your goals.

Have you selected a goal? Great! Onto the next part.

Practice Patience & Persistence

How to Increase Running Endurance - Patience and Persistence

Endurance is built up over time.

There is no magic trick to instantly increase your running endurance overnight.

Although I wish I invented one, I’d be a millionaire…

Always remember the 2 P’s of endurance training: Patience and Persistence.

Patience, because it takes many weeks of consistent running to build up endurance.

Persistence because there will be days or weeks when motivation is hard to come by. We all have those weeks, don’t worry. But keep plugging away! You can do it!

Make running a habit and patiently follow the process. Wonderful running endurance awaits you at the end.

Follow a Training Plan

Ok, you’ve defined your goal. You’ve stocked up on patience.

Now what?

Follow (or make) a training plan.

This can be as simple or in-depth as you choose to make it.

A training plan provides guardrails, removes daily choice (in a good way), and sets you up for success by laying out the path to achieving your specific goal.

Training for a half marathon? Try this half marathon plan for beginners.

Training for a 10 Miler? Check out this simple plan.

Training for a 10K? Read this bad boy right here.

Training for a 5K? Peruse this 5K training plan for beginners.

Increase Mileage Slowly

How to Increase Running Endurance - Slowly Increase Mileage

This is a cardinal rule of running anyway, but especially applies to increasing running endurance.

Your body needs time to adapt to new distances and build up strength and aerobic capacity for it. So don’t go from running 3 miles one week to 8 miles the next…that’s asking for an injury!

Coaches typically recommend only increasing long run distance by about 10% from week to week. Or adding .5 to 1 mile each week.

So if your goal is to increase running endurance to complete a 10 miler, and you currently run 4 mile runs, then you’ll need a solid 6-8 weeks to build up to 10 miles.

Find a training plan that slowly increases mileage and stick to it.

Don’t Over-train

How to Increase Running Endurance - Don't Over-Train

Again, if you’re following a good training plan, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Good training plans include at least 1 rest day a week.

Rest days are crucial!

Over-training won’t help anything. You’ll risk injury and wear your body out.

Our bodies need proper rest (good sleep and rest days too), to properly recover from training.

What do rest days do? So much – from building up muscle after a tough workout to regaining energy after a long run, and more.

As you train to increase running endurance, use the following techniques, and remember that rest days actually help get you closer to your goal!

Incorporate Speed Workouts

How to Increase Running Endurance - Speed Workouts

Running the same speed, and the same distance, will not increase running endurance.

But you probably know that already, right?

Instead, you must push your body to improve things that contribute to increased endurance…and speed work will do just that.

Speed workouts work threefold to increase running endurance:

  1. Helps train your brain for mental toughness to work through hard workouts
  2. Increases the lactate threshold so your body learns to remove lactate from the blood quicker
  3. Builds fast and slow twitch muscle fibers (this gets scientific very fast…for an in-depth explanation, read this article)

Note: the main purpose of speed workouts in this article is to increase running endurance, but if you want to learn to run faster, read: How to Run Faster in 30 Days or Less.

Ok, I’m ready to go? What types of speed work should I do?

Runners typically rotate through these 4 Types of Speed Workouts. Only do one of these workouts per week, not all!

How to Increase Running Endurance - 4 Speed Workouts

Intervals (HIIT)

Intervals (a type of high intensity interval training workout) are structured with pre-determined fast and slow periods.

Try to exert about 70% effort during intense periods, and recover enough to catch your breath during the rest period.

How to do intervals: There are endless interval workouts available. It just depends on your goal.

You can run intervals at a track for easy distance tracking.

Some runners sprint one lap, then recover (walk or slow run) another lap. Repeat 3-8 times depending on your fitness level. Increase repeats every week or two as your endurance increases.

Or if it’s all about time for you, run anywhere and alternate say 3 minutes of intense bursts with 3 minute recovery periods (make sure to wear a watch or fitness tracker to properly time yourself).

Always warm up for 5-10 minutes first, no matter what workout you choose. Cool down should be about the same time as your warm up.

Learn more at the Complete Guide to Running Intervals.


Try not to giggle when saying “fartlek”. Despite it’s funny-sounding name, the word just means “speed play” in Swedish.

Unlike interval workouts, fartleks are generally unstructured (meaning there’s no set timing or distance to follow). Alternate fun bursts of speed with slower recovery running (or walking).

Runners are encouraged to have fun with this workout, do what feels good! But make sure to push yourself too.

How to do fartleks: Pick a mailbox or telephone pole or dog in the distance, and sprint to it. Then slow down until the next sprint point. Keep it fun and interesting!


Runners have a love-hate relationship with hills.

Hill running is not particularly fun…but the benefits are immense.

As with the other workouts already mentioned, hill workouts can be as simple or complicated as you want.

How to do a hill workout: Find a hill that is about a quarter mile long. Or get on a treadmill.

Tip: the hill doesn’t have to be very steep (especially to start!), around a 3-5% grade.

Warm up 5-10 minutes then focus on proper running form as you run up the hill, then recover by walking or very slowly jogging down the hill.

Repeat 3-8 times depending on your current fitness level. Increase repeats as desired as you increase running endurance.

Tempo Runs

Practice sustaining a faster pace for longer with tempo runs.

Tempo runs are moderately difficult but not run at an all-out pace – you should feel like you’re pushing it, but also like you could sustain the harder pace for about 60 minutes if needed.

In it’s simplest form, a tempo run contains 3 distinct parts: the warm-up, the tempo pace, and the cool-down.

A sample tempo run for beginners is:

Warm up at a very slow jog for 5-10 minutes.

Then run at your “tempo” pace for 20 minutes.

Then cool down with a slow jog for 5-10 minutes.

Again, like with all running workouts, tempo runs come in many different flavors with varying levels of complexity.

Start simple. Don’t over-complicate it until need to.

Learn all about tempo runs here.

Increase Tempo Run Time

Increase Running Endurance - Pick up Tempo Pace

On your journey to increase running endurance, you’ll inevitably build a solid running base.

A solid running base means your fitness level is good enough to run injury-free (and you’re likely ready for the next step).

Hopefully you’ve already integrated one speed workout per week into your training schedule.

So by this point, you’re familiar with tempo runs.

Keep pushing your endurance threshold by slowly increasing the “tempo” part of the tempo run.

Beginners should start with about 20 minutes of tempo pace. Then, add 3-5 minutes every few tempo runs to increase the length of time you’re holding that tougher pace.

Also, try varying the tempo run workout: check out these 5 running intervals.


Build Strong Legs

How to Increase Running Endurance - Leg Strength

Legs are (obviously) a huge part of running.

They bring the power.

To properly increase running endurance, you must strengthen your leg muscles to be able to handle longer distances and increased effort during speed workouts too.

Some ideas for leg (and hip) exercises include:

  • Squats
  • Bridges
  • Clamshells
  • Lunges
  • Calf raises


Finish Strong

End easy runs with a burst of speed.

Don’t go overboard though. Easy runs are still supposed to be easy.

But teaching your body to increase performance towards the end of runs instead of decreasing effort only increases your running endurance.

Plus, it helps prepare you mentally for race day.

No runner wants to slow down right before the finish line…prepare your mind and body to finish strong!

Don’t Forget About Cross Training!

How to Increase Running Endurance - Cross Training

Cross training is an often-missed, but crucial, part of running.

Running workouts are great (and essential) to increase running endurance and aerobic fitness but your body needs a break from the impact or running sometimes.

That’s where cross training is key.

Read Cross Training for Runners: The Hidden Secrets You Need to Know for in-depth details on why cross training is critical for runners.

Some cross training options include (but are not limited to):

  • Yoga
  • Cycling (outdoor or indoor on a machine)
  • Swimming
  • and much more!

And Strength Training Too!

How to Increase Running Endurance - Strength Training

Like cross training, strength training is crucial to keep runners injury-free and strong enough to handle increasing their endurance.

We covered leg-specific strength training earlier, but runners need core strength, hip strength and more, in addition to leg strength.

Strength Training for Runners: 8 Easy Moves to Try Now lays out 8 effective strength exercises (and explains why you need each one).

A sample pf options includes:

  • Planks
  • Sit-ups
  • Donkey Kicks
  • and more!

The Right Nutrition

How to Increase Running Endurance - Eat Right

We know the basic groups: Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fat.

But do you know what proportion of each runners should eat? Or why?

Runners Food 101: The Ultimate Guide to Nutrition for Runners walks you through the details.

In essence – don’t skip carbs! 

And eat the right combo of macronutrients while training.

Plus, eating the right foods before, during and after running aids in better performance and recovery.

Increasing endurance puts a strain on your body. Re-fuel with the right food (or the whole process gets harder and less effective).

Drink Plenty of Water

How to Increase Running Endurance - Drink Water

Similarly to eating the right way, runners must hydrate to stay healthy.

Drink all the water.

The most common advice on daily water intake is to take you weight (in pounds) and divide it in half…and that is the number of ounces to drink each day.

Hate drinking water? A lot of runners do.

Try these 5 Hydration Hacks for Runners to find clever ways to sneak more water in.

Are you ready to increase your running endurance this year? You can do it!


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How to Increase Running Endurance

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How to Increase Running Endurance
Increase your running endurance to be a faster, stronger runner this year. #running #runner #runningtips

How to Increase Running Endurance
Increase Running Endurance

Want to know how to increase running endurance to be come a stronger, faster runner? Crush your goals with these steps. #running #runningtips
Boost your endurance and crush your fitness goals this year. Are you ready? Just follow these steps. #running #runningtips #fitness #endurance

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