When you’re just starting out as a runner, the fact that some runners can run for 30 minutes or an hour without stopping can seem completely bewildering (not to mention the jaw-dropping feat of running a marathon!).
Beginner runners often feel really winded and out of breath running just a few blocks or so. Even once you build up your stamina so that you can run a mile or two without stopping, you might come to a point where it seems like your endurance is plateauing, and it feels hard to keep going.
If you’re a beginner runner wondering how to keep running without stopping, you’re certainly not alone. Even more experienced runners sometimes question how to run longer without stopping because we all get to a point that feels like our ultimate stopping point where we are too tired to keep running and have to stop and walk.
The good news is that nearly every runner can improve their stamina with some training adjustments. In this article, we will discuss how to run longer without stopping and improve your endurance running.
We will cover:
- Why Can’t I Run Without Stopping?
- How To Run Longer Without Stopping: 20 Tips for Beginner Runners
Let’s get started!
Why Can’t I Run Without Stopping?
If you are a beginner runner who wants to know how to keep running without stopping, the first thing you should know is that it’s totally normal to feel like running is hard, and every time you go out to run, you have to keep stopping to walk.
If you’re frustrated with the fact that you can’t run without stopping, you’re dealing with an issue of poor running stamina.
Your running stamina, or endurance, is your physical and mental ability to maintain a certain pace or effort level for a given period of time without getting tired, or at least not exhausted, to the point that you need to stop running.
People stop running or struggle to keep running without walking for any number of reasons.You might feel totally breathless because your heart is pounding. This can be because you’re a beginner runner and not yet used to running, or you’re running too fast for your fitness level.
You might struggle to keep running without stopping because you’re tired and have low energy.
You might be wondering how to run longer without stopping when your legs start burning or hurting, but you might just be doing more than your body is yet ready for.
Sometimes, the desire to stop running and walk is mental. You might be bored or be lacking motivation.
Oftentimes, it’s a combination of one or more of these reasons, ultimately boiling down to the fact that your body hasn’t yet adapted sufficiently (stronger heart, lungs, and muscles), and you need to increase your stamina to run longer without stopping.
How To Run Longer Without Stopping: 20 Tips for Beginner Runners
So, let’s move on to the practical tips for how to run longer without stopping. The following tips can increase your stamina while running:
#1: Be Consistent
The single most important thing you can do to improve your stamina so that you can run longer without stopping is to be consistent with your training.
Rather than running a day or two one week and then taking a week off, and then trying to run three or four days the following week, set a schedule and run every other day or three days per week as you build up your endurance.
Your heart, lungs, and muscles will not be able to adapt to training if they are not getting a consistent stimulus. This will make every run feel like it might as well be your first run.
#2: Run More Often
Running one or two days a week is a great place to start, but running more often will get your body adapted to running that much faster.
However, exercise caution here: if you are a beginner runner, don’t run more often than every other day to start.
If you’ve consistently been running 3 days a week for several weeks, add a fourth day.
After you’ve been running four days a week for at least a month or two, add a fifth day.
Just make sure to take at least one rest day per week to allow your body to recover and prevent overuse injuries.
It’s definitely counterintuitive to recommend walking when you are providing tips for how to run longer without stopping.
However, taking walking breaks and using a run-walk approach to your workouts is a great way for beginner runners to actually run longer.
Walking breaks give your legs and cardiovascular system a chance to recover briefly so that you can then keep going.
This will allow you to do a longer workout, which will build your endurance for when you’re fit enough to remove the walking breaks.
#4: Slow Your Pace
The number one reason any runner, regardless of their fitness level, can’t run without stopping is that they’re running too fast.
Slowing down your pace is the single best way to run longer without stopping.
Rather than focusing on your pace at all, focus on your effort level.
Using the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scale, which is a subjective way to describe your effort level on a scale from 1-10 (10 being maximal effort), aiming for a 6-7 during your run.
This may mean you need to run really slowly, and that’s okay!
#5: Monitor Your Heart Rate
Using a heart rate monitor can help ensure you’re running easily enough.
You can predict your maximum heart rate by using the formula 220-age in years. Although this isn’t the most accurate estimation, it’s a decent place to start as a beginner.
Generally speaking, the aerobic exercise zone is considered to be 70-80% of your maximum heart rate.
For example, if your maximum heart rate is 180 bpm, your heart rate while running would be in the range of 126-144 bpm.
#6: Vary Your Runs
The variety will not only prevent boredom and mental fatigue, but these types of workouts also improve your aerobic capacity, metabolic flexibility, and anaerobic threshold.
The result is a boost in your fitness that will enable you to run longer without walking.
#7: Progress Gradually
In order to run longer without stopping, you need to run longer. Gradually increase the duration of your runs from week to week.
For example, if you are currently running 30 minutes without stopping, try to bump up to 32 minutes the next week and 35 minutes per run the following week.
#8: Relax Your Breathing
Feeling breathless is usually the primary reason that most runners feel like they have to stop running and walk.
Focus on relaxing your breathing and taking deep belly breaths rather than shallow and rapid breaths.
#9: Use Your Arms
The importance of the arm swing in your running form is often overlooked.
Using your arms will help offset some of the workload on your legs and will increase your running economy. This, in turn, will help you run longer without getting tired.
#10: Get Your Form Checked
If you are running with poor running form, your efficiency will suffer, and it will take more energy to run.
Consider going to a running shoe store or asking a more experienced runner to look at your gait and running stride.
Incorporate their tips to make your running form feel more effortless.
#11: Add Cross Training
Cross-training, which involves doing any type of exercise other than running, is a great way to develop your aerobic fitness for running.
Cross-training uses different muscles and usually has less impact on your joints, so if you’re only running a couple of days per week to start (which is ideal), you can add cross-training on your non-running days to still build your cardiovascular endurance without overtaxing your body.
#12: Start Strength Training
Building strength in your legs through resistance training will help running feel less painful.
You’ll also decrease your risk of injury, allowing you to train more consistently.
#13: Examine Your Fueling Strategy
Your diet supplies the fuel your body needs to run.
If you are feeling exhausted or depleted when you run, your fueling strategy may be to blame.
Make sure you’re getting enough calories overall and eating a carbohydrate-rich meal or snack not more than 1-3 hours before you run.
If you’re trying to run on an empty stomach, you might not have enough “gas” in the tank.
#14: Recruit a Running Buddy
Running with a friend or joining a running club can make running more motivating and engaging.
Chatting together helps pass the time and makes it easier to keep going.
#15: Try Music or Podcasts
One good tip is to only allow yourself to listen to that podcast or story when you run—you’ll want to keep going to find out how it ends.
The same goes for TV shows or movies for treadmill runners.
#16: Try a New Route
Another good way to fight boredom and bring more excitement to your running is to try new running routes.
You can look for routes that are slightly longer than what you are currently running. Choose a loop course, so you have to run the entire distance to get back home.
#17: Go Somewhere Flat
Hills are often the most challenging running terrain for beginner runners, and a long or steep uphill will certainly leave your legs burning, your heart pounding, and your lungs more breathless compared to running on flat ground.
As you work to build your stamina, stick with flat routes like a track, treadmill, or flat roads so that you can just focus on keeping running without stopping.
When you get fitter, you can add hills back into your distance runs or do a dedicated weekly hill workout to build your strength for hills.
#18: Follow a Training Plan
Following a beginner training plan is one of the best approaches to running longer without stopping.
Training plans are carefully created by experts to safely and effectively increase your running endurance. They also give you structure and take the guesswork out of how far you should run every day.
#19: Sleep More
You need to sleep enough every night to have the energy you need to run.
Sleep is also vital for recovery from your workouts so that you can bounce back and hit the next workout in full-fighting form.
Aim for at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
#20: Set a Goal
An exciting goal can motivate you to keep running when your mind tries to tell you you’re exhausted.
Be patient. You can definitely run longer without stopping if you adjust your pace, focus on incremental but gradual increases, and stick with it. You can do it!
Looking for a starter plan to get you going on the right track? Check out our Couch to 5k training plan and guide.