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How To Run Longer: 11 Tips For Increasing Running Endurance

Use our expert running coach's tips to increase your mileage.

Runners often have two main goals in mind when they are looking to improve: speed and distance.

Either we want to run faster, or we want to run longer, and to tell you the truth, most of us want both in the long run (pun intended!).

Whether you are a beginner runner training for your very first 5k, an experienced short-distance runner looking to run a 10k or half marathon or take on a marathon training or ultramarathon training plan, this guide is for you.

As a certified running coach, I help athletes increase their running endurance every day, and I have some great advice for you on how to run longer so that you can be on your way to achieving your big next goal!

Here are my top 11 tips to increase your running endurance safely and successfully:

A person running through a field.

How To Run Longer: My Top Training Tips

#1: Increase Your Mileage Gradually 

Our bodies must adapt to any new activity we present them with, especially a new sport. New movement patterns and muscle activation will have anyone feeling sore the next day.

If you are new to the sport, your muscles, joints, and connective tissues will need time to adapt to the impact stresses of running.

If you are an experienced runner but have focused mostly on shorter distances such as the 5k or 10k, your body is most likely adapted to running in general, however, going from shorter to longer distances will also take some getting used to. 

No matter what your experience level as a runner is, increasing your volume gradually is the safest way to build running endurance. 

The most common rule of thumb for increasing mileage is to increase it by no more than 10% per week

This is more of a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule, as each individual runner will vary.

You may need to increase weekly mileage a bit more gradually if you are already running quite a bit of mileage per week, or, as a new runner, you may want to increase your mileage a bit more aggressively if you adapt quickly. 

Let me give you a couple of examples. 

If you are a new runner and will begin with a Couch to 5k run/walk plan, you may start your first week with three days a week of an interval of running for one minute and then walking for a minute and a half for a total of 20 minutes. 

The total time you would be training with your walk/run plan would be 60 minutes in this first week. If you add 10% to that total time, the following week, you would add six additional minutes and walk/run for a total of 66 minutes. 

However, when you are starting out with a walk/run training plan, your first step is to build up to running consistently without the walk breaks.

Therefore, instead of increasing the total time per week, you would increase the running interval and decrease the walking interval in each workout gradually until you have built up the endurance to run consistently for the full 20 minutes.

Check out our Couch to 5k training plan to see the complete progression.

If you are a seasoned runner, you can heed more toward the 10% rule, but depending on your level may be able to adjust a tad more than 10% per week until you reach your ideal mileage. 

When increasing distance and improving aerobic capacity, the biggest change to your training plan will be extending your long run. This is where you will see the most significant mileage increase.

Your recovery runs and speed workouts will mostly likely remain similar in length or time, although another way to sneak in some extra minutes could be extending warm-up and cool-down time.

A workout plan in a notebook.

#2: Follow A Structured A Training Plan 

To ensure you increase mileage gradually, you should follow a structured training program. 

Whether you use one of our Marathon Handbook training plans or have a certified running coach develop one specifically for you, knowing what to do each day will help you reach your goal and decrease the risk of injury.

Training plans are carefully thought out and put together like a jigsaw puzzle, juggling your speed work like Vo2 max interval training, tempo runs, recovery runs, long runs, cross-training, and strength training sessions to set you up on an ideal path to success. 

A running coach comes in handy as they can analyze each session and adjust your training plan as you go, whether it be you need to take a step back and increase your mileage even more gradually or crank it up as you are cruising through your sessions with ease. 

A coach is also a great way to help you avoid overtraining. Sometimes, at the beginning of a training plan, we may feel it is too easy and tend to want to push ourselves further than we should before we should.

Following a training plan and adapting gradually is your best bet for success.

#3: Run Long Runs

One of the best way of how to run longer, is to run longer!

In your training plan, you will have a variety of different types of workouts, but, as mentioned, one of the best workouts to increase running endurance is the long run. 

One long run a week is the most common schedule unless you are training for an ultra marathon, where back-to-back long run weekends may be in your future! 

Try and plan your long run for a day where you will have the most time available, as sometimes there are more logistics involved in longer long runs, such as fueling, or perhaps even driving to and from your start/finish point. 

As per our mileage increase rule, long runs should not increase by more than 10% per week to avoid overdoing it and burning out. 

A person running on the road.

#4: Be Consistent

Consistency with your training is one of the most important elements of improving your running endurance. 

This is where having a training plan comes in handy. Checking your daily workout off your calendar can give you great accomplishment.

Of course, there are things that can get in the way of training, such as a late night at work, the flu, or bad weather, but on a regular basis, being able to tick off those workouts will ensure consistent improvement. 

#5: Improve Your Running Economy

This tip is for how to run faster and longer; its a twofer!

The way we run can affect our efficiency when running. If we are more efficient, we can run longer (and faster) using less effort. The more energy saved, the more energy we can use to running longer.

The factors that make up an improvement in running economy include working on your running form and increasing your running cadence (the number of steps you take per minute).

You can improve both of them by including speedwork and specific drills in your training. 

Strides, which are short accelerations during a run, Fartleks, and trackwork, are some great ways to improve turnover and work on your running form and posture. 

Therefore, even though it may seem that to increase your endurance, you only need to run long, easy runs, don’t neglect your speedwork!

For a full rundown on running technique and how to avoid common mistakes, check out our very own YouTube video

A person taking a step.

#6: Slow Down 

It’s common for runners to start out their runs too fast. When we get warmed up and are feeling great, it’s easy to push the pace more than we should. If you start out too fast, you risk hitting the wall or bonking.

Unless you are running a specific speed workout, your easy runs and long runs should be run at a conversational pace. 

That means you should be able to speak throughout the duration of the run. If you feel breathless or that you can’t carry on a conversation, slow down. 

If you start out too fast, you may be unable to finish your session, which could be discouraging. It’s better to take it easy from the get-go and complete your run.

Don’t worry about your run pace at first and just get in the miles.

#7: Fuel Your Runs And Your Daily Life

Running is a physically demanding sport, so we need to fuel our bodies at all times, not just pre-run and post-run, but also during longer runs and with our day-to-day nutrition.

Pre-run snacks or meals are key for run training, especially when you have a speed workout or long run planned for the day. 

Examples of pre-run breakfasts or pre-run snacks are a bowl of oatmeal with berries, toast and jelly, a bagel with nut butter, or a granola bar. 

Long runs or runs over 60 minutes will also require fueling during the session. If you don’t fuel, your glycogen stores are likely to run out during your training, and you take the chance of bonking or, if not, simply not running at your best. 

For your long-run fueling strategy, you will want to try out different fuel sources to see what works best for you and your digestive system. Energy gels, chews, or even unprocessed solid foods such as pretzels or dried fruit are good options.

For before and during your run, make sure you try to stick to carbohydrates as your main fuel source. Then, for post-run fueling, eat a mix of carbs and proteins for efficient recovery. 

As for day to day nutrition, a well-balanced diet of whole, unprocessed foods is the best way to get the calories and nutrients you need to support your training plan.

For a great guide on carbohydrates for runners, click here.

A person on an elliptical machine.

#8: Cross-Train

To build your aerobic base without the impact stesses of running, you can add cross-training activities into your training plan.1Foster, C., Hector, L. L., Welsh, R., Schrager, M., Green, M. A., & Snyder, A. C. (1995). Effects of specific versus cross-training on running performance. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology70(4), 367–372. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf00865035

‌If you are running three times a week, (running training sessions at the beginner level should be every other day), you can cross-train for those two days in between to continue to build your base, while avoiding the high impact effect of running.

Some examples of cross-training activities that can complement your running are: elliptical, rowing, ski erg, cycling, aqua jogging, and swimming.

As for experienced runners, cross-training is a great active recovery session for when you want to give your body a low-impact or no-impact workout.

#9: Strength Train

I know I keep adding more and more workouts to your training plan, but as a certified running coach, I absolutely insist on my runners strength training to help improve their performance.2Yamamoto, L. M., Lopez, R. M., Klau, J. F., Casa, D. J., Kraemer, W. J., & Maresh, C. M. (2008). The Effects of Resistance Training on Endurance Distance Running Performance Among Highly Trained Runners: A Systematic Review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research22(6), 2036–2044. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0b013e318185f2f0

Not only will strength training make you a stronger, faster, more resilient runner, but it will also help lower the risk of running-related overuse injuries such as Runner’s Knee.

Any injury while training will cause you setbacks, and time off will only result in a longer road to build your endurance.

A group of people running.

#10: Train Your Mind 

Running is not only a physically taxing sport but mentally taxing as well. 

A lot of runners suffer from a feeling of insecurity while running, such as that they won’t be able to run for the planned period of time, or that they are running too slowly to ever succeed, amongst a number of other concerns.

You are strong enough to do this. You can do this! It just takes time, patience, dedication, and a positive mindset. 

The more positive we can be, the more successful we will be on our journey to running longer distances. 

Find ways to make running fun. 

Find a training buddy who wants to take on running their first 5k or ultra-marathon with you. Join your local running club and learn from experienced runners, or accompany runners at your own fitness level. 

If you have to run on your own, create great running playlists with your favorite songs or listen to a podcast you have been dying to get to.

Another important way to motivate yourself is to set attainable short-term and long-term running goals. Choose a race or a parkrun you would like to participate in, or do a Turkey Trot or a charity run. 

Signing up and putting that date on your calendar will give you a sense of responsibility and motivate you to reach your goal.

Tracking your progress is also a great way to stay motivated. 

You can use a training app such as Training Peaks or Strava to see how you have improved over the weeks and months. See that distance creep up and your speed increase as you reach your goal distance or race. 

Apps such as Strava allow you to connect with other runners, look for routes in your area, and even run the same segments repeatedly to see how much better you are getting. 

If you prefer the old-school style, you can keep a non-electronic running journal to document your running journey. 

Write down how you feel after each training session. This will not only be a great memory for when you reach your goal but can help with your training to see what has worked best for your performance improvement and what you need to change in your training plan in the future.

A person with their feet up resting.

#11: Respect Your Rest Days

You will feel as though your running days, cross-training days, and strength training days are the most important pieces of your training schedule, but rest and recovery are just as important. 

No matter how experienced of a runner you are, you should have at least one day of complete rest in your training plan to let your mind and body rest and recover from the stresses you have been putting it through.

Be sure to get enough sleep, hydrate well, stretch, and relax when needed to perform at your best each day.  

Increasing running endurance is a very exciting goal, and hitting new distance PRs is an amazing accomplishment. Use my tips for how to run for longer to begin today!

Begin with one of our training plans. Check out our databases for 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, marathons, and ultras for all ability levels. 

And if you are looking for a coach to guide you, we offer one-on-one virtual coaching, here!

Good luck on your journey! 

People in a running race.

References

  • 1
    Foster, C., Hector, L. L., Welsh, R., Schrager, M., Green, M. A., & Snyder, A. C. (1995). Effects of specific versus cross-training on running performance. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology70(4), 367–372. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf00865035
  • 2
    Yamamoto, L. M., Lopez, R. M., Klau, J. F., Casa, D. J., Kraemer, W. J., & Maresh, C. M. (2008). The Effects of Resistance Training on Endurance Distance Running Performance Among Highly Trained Runners: A Systematic Review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research22(6), 2036–2044. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0b013e318185f2f0
Photo of author
Katelyn is an experienced ultra-marathoner and outdoor enthusiast with a passion for the trails. In the running community, she is known for her ear-to-ear smile, even under the toughest racing conditions. She is a UESCA-certified running coach and loves sharing her knowledge and experience to help people reach their goals and become the best runners they can be. Her biggest passion is to motivate others to hit the trails or road alongside her, have a blast, and run for fun!

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