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How To Run Without Getting Tired: 11 Tips From Our Run Coach

Tire out too quickly? Here's how to keep going for longer.

Although most runners eventually want to run faster in order to improve running performance for races, beginner runners and those stepping up to longer distances often struggle to build up endurance.

There are tons of excellent ways to increase your running stamina that involve pacing, fueling, strength training, and the general organization of your run training plan.

Let’s jump right into my top 11 tips for how to run without getting tired:

A person smiling and running.

how to run without getting tired

Here are some of the best tips for how to run longer without stopping:

#1: Pace Yourself

The easiest way to manage your energy levels to run longer without stopping is to slow down your running pace.

You should be running at an easy, conversational pace when you are trying to run longer distances, especially for long runs.

Interval workouts will have a more discrete warm-up with easy jogging, and then you will have a burst of faster running, such as race pace or Vo2 max pace intervals.

However, when you are working to build endurance for longer runs, you really need to dial back your running pace.

If you are training by heart rate, try to keep your heart rate during the warm-up and long-run workouts in the 60 to 75% of your maximum heart rate range. 

It can be difficult for beginner runners to actually run slow enough for the heart rate to be that low; you may feel like you need to walk. 

In fact, the Maffetone Method, which is a popular heart rate training method for long distance runners, focuses on “running slow to run fast.” This probably sounds like an oxymoron for most beginners, but it really can work as an endurance training method!

It requires that you keep your heart rate under 130 bpm for long runs and easy runs.

This means that if you are doing the Maffetone Method if you cannot keep your heart rate below 130 while running at an easy pace, you are supposed to stop running and start brisk walking until your heart rate drops down.

As your fitness level improves, you should be able to maintain an easy pace while running, meaning that you will not have to intersperse as much brisk walking.

However, even if you don’t want to use that training approach, as long as you are running at a conversational pace or an effort level on the rate of perceived exertion (RPE scale) of 6-7, you are probably running a slow enough pace for the long distance.

A person running on the road.

#2: Follow a Training Plan

Any running coach would recommend that you follow a training plan that is appropriate for your fitness level.1Boullosa, D., Esteve-Lanao, J., Casado, A., Peyré-Tartaruga, L. A., Gomes da Rosa, R., & Del Coso, J. (2020). Factors Affecting Training and Physical Performance in Recreational Endurance Runners. Sports8(3), 35. https://doi.org/10.3390/sports8030035

‌A good training plan will progress the intensity and duration of your workouts appropriately, helping you build endurance while reducing the risk of injury.2Fokkema, T., Damme, A. A. D. N., Fornerod, M. W. J., Vos, R., Bierma‐Zeinstra, S. M. A., & Middelkoop, M. (2020). Training for a (half‐)marathon: Training volume and longest endurance run related to performance and running injuries. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports30(9), 1692–1704. https://doi.org/10.1111/sms.13725

‌As with training for shorter events, marathon training plans also have cross-training workouts and rest days to prevent overtraining and to help give your body time to recover after the long runs, tempo runs, and interval training workouts.

If you aren’t following a good training plan, you may not be taking an adequate number of rest days, or you might be trying to jump up your long run distances too quickly.3Quinn, T. J., & Manley, M. J. (2012). The impact of a long training run on muscle damage and running economy in runners training for a marathon. Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness10(2), 101–106. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesf.2012.10.008

‌This can increase your risk of injury and overtraining, and it can lead to physical and mental fatigue and burnout.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, new runners should follow a beginner training plan so that you are running frequently enough to see improvements in your fitness level. 

This doesn’t mean that you should be running every day, but only going out there once a week to do a running workout is not going to help you build endurance for distance running at an appreciable rate.

A person holding a sports drink.

#3: Work On Fueling

Depending on your fitness level and the distances you are running, a common stumbling block is poor hydration or glycogen depletion with long distance running.

Note that true glycogen depletion, which refers to running out of stored carbohydrates, typically only happens for long runs with half marathon or marathon training plans or longer runs if you are running first thing in the morning without eating.

In my work as a running coach, I train a lot of distance runners who are stepping up to the half marathon or full marathon distance after a year or several years of running shorter races such as a 5k or 10k.

Fueling and hydration are much less important for these relatively shorter distance running events.

Even the long runs on training plans for these distances generally don’t require much in the way of a fueling strategy with energy gels, sports drinks, or other types of carbs and electrolytes.

However, for longer distances, it does become necessary to drink fluids4American College of Sports Medicine. (2009). Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise41(3), 709–731. https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0b013e31890eb86 to prevent dehydration and carbohydrates to prevent “bonking” or hitting the wall,5Naderi, A., Gobbi, N., Ali, A., Berjisian, E., Hamidvand, A., Forbes, S. C., Koozehchian, M. S., Karayigit, R., & Saunders, B. (2023). Carbohydrates and Endurance Exercise: A Narrative Review of a Food First Approach. Nutrients15(6), 1367. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15061367 which essentially occurs when your energy levels drop because your glycogen availability is low and your muscles have to start burning fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.

Balanced diet written on a chalkboard with healthy foods surrounding it such as fruits and vegetables.

#4: Check Your Diet

Even if you aren’t doing half marathon or marathon training yet, a poor diet will impede your ability to get through longer runs without experiencing some degree of tiredness.

Distance runners should follow a balanced diet with plenty of complex carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats.6American College of Sports Medicine. (2009). Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise41(3), 709–731. https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0b013e31890eb86

‌A balanced diet with whole grains, vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, nuts, seeds, lean proteins, eggs, and similarly nutritious foods will provide you with the electrolytes, carbohydrates, and amino acids to repair muscle damage your body needs for optimal energy levels and recovery from training.

You should be eating enough calories to support your workouts as well as your daily physical activity outside of your training plan.

Being in a caloric deficit, such as if you are trying to lose weight or following a restrictive diet where you aren’t eating enough carbs, healthy fats, or protein for your body weight and activity level, will leave you feeling depleted before you even try to run.

A person drinking water.

#5: Drink Water

Hydration needs for runners extend beyond hydrating before, during, and after you are longer runs and workouts. You should be drinking plenty of water throughout the day so that your urine is pale yellow.

If you are a heavy sweater or are doing long runs for marathon training, you may also need to have electrolyte drinks or sports drinks after your runs if you still feel like your energy levels or glycogen are low or you are still dehydrated.

Electrolytes and glucose or other simple carbs/sugar in fluids increase the rate of absorption.7Jeukendrup, A. E. (2017). Training the Gut for Athletes. Sports Medicine47(S1), 101–110. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-017-0690-6

#6: Do Cross-Training Workouts

One of the best tips for beginners or runners returning from an injury or a long break who want to build endurance more quickly is to incorporate longer cross-training workouts.

Low-impact cross-training reduces the impact stress on your body relative to running while still giving you a great cardio workout and strengthening your heart and muscles for running longer distances.8NILSSON, J., & THORSTENSSON, A. (1989). Ground reaction forces at different speeds of human walking and running. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica136(2), 217–227. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-1716.1989.tb08655.x

A person getting a gait analysis.

#7: Work On Your Running Form

Improving your running form not only reduces your risk of injury but can also make you a more efficient runner. 

Having a better running economy essentially means that you can run at the same pace while using less energy. When you are using less energy, you can run longer distances without getting tired—the ultimate goal in distance running.

There could be a variety of issues with running form that can compromise your running economy.

New runners are best served by either working with a running coach or going to a reputable running shoe store to get a running gait analysis.

Proper running form will also decrease the risk of injuries, which will allow you to train more consistently without continually needing to take ad hoc rest days that aren’t on your training plan because you keep having little niggles or injuries crop up.

Being able to train consistently is key when trying to build endurance for running.

#8: Warm Up and Cool Down

As a running coach, one of the biggest mistakes that I see both new runners and experienced distance runners make is not doing a warm up and cool down.

Most runners make the time to do a warm-up and cool down with interval training workouts, but even when you are doing a longer run at a conversational pace, it is a good idea to do a warm up.

Do a few minutes of brisk walking or easy running before you really get into your comfortable running pace.

This will help increase your heart rate and warm up your muscles so that you have a smooth, efficient running stride with no difficulty maintaining proper running form.

When you are going to be doing interval training workouts on the track, or you have more time, adding in some dynamic stretches as part of the warm-up is a great way to activate your muscles so that you feel loose and limber.

Take a few minutes at the end of your run for a cool down. This can be running at an easy pace or brisk walking, depending on your fitness level.

A person lifting a barbell.

#9: Add Interval Training

The best training plans for distance running typically have interval training workouts.

Interval training is a great way to improve your running performance by building aerobic and anaerobic fitness, improving VO2 max, and running economy.

Then, running an easy run at a conversational pace will feel all that more comfortable when you have gotten used to fast intervals on your hard days.

New runners can do interval training with brisk walking in between the running intervals.

Fartlek workouts, where you drop down to an easy pace in between the faster running pace intervals, are a great way to improve running endurance for more experienced runners because you are never actually stopping.

#10: Start Strength Training

Strength training exercises like squats, step-ups, deadlifts, and lunges can indirectly improve running endurance by helping you become fitter and stronger.9Barnes, K. R., & Kilding, A. E. (2014). Strategies to Improve Running Economy. Sports Medicine45(1), 37–56. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-014-0246-y

‌Building muscle by lifting heavy weights reduces the risk of injuries while also making the relative load of your own body weight feel comparatively easy.

In these ways, strength training can allow you to follow your running training plan more consistently and reduce potential muscle fatigue while running.

Just make sure that you don’t do your strength training workouts right before you run, because pre-exhausting your muscles will hasten how quickly you experience tiredness or muscle fatigue.

Run first and then do your strength training exercises or do your strength training workout on your rest days from running.

A couple running and laughing together.

#11: Boost Your Motivation

It’s easy enough to talk about training strategies to build running endurance for running longer distances without stopping, but it is also important to consider the mental engagement side of distance running.

If you are bored or under-stimulated when you are running, particularly if you are trying to do long runs alone, your brain, also known as the central governor, might be telling you that you are more tired than you are.

Making motivating playlists with upbeat music or listening to podcasts while you run can be a great way to pass the time and keep your brain engaged.

You can even curate your playlist to have a slower BPM with your songs when you are trying to remind yourself to run at a conversational pace for longer runs or a faster BPM for times when you are trying to pick up the pace.

If you have the luxury of running with a friend, you can actually ensure that you are running at a conversational pace with friendly chit-chat, which also helps engage your mind so that running feels more fun and easy.

I can’t tell you how many times I have dreaded a long run but then met up with some running buddies, and the miles just flew by!

Now that you’ve seen how to build up endurance and how to run without getting tired, what about speed? Check out this next guide for ways to get faster:

References

  • 1
    Boullosa, D., Esteve-Lanao, J., Casado, A., Peyré-Tartaruga, L. A., Gomes da Rosa, R., & Del Coso, J. (2020). Factors Affecting Training and Physical Performance in Recreational Endurance Runners. Sports8(3), 35. https://doi.org/10.3390/sports8030035
  • 2
    Fokkema, T., Damme, A. A. D. N., Fornerod, M. W. J., Vos, R., Bierma‐Zeinstra, S. M. A., & Middelkoop, M. (2020). Training for a (half‐)marathon: Training volume and longest endurance run related to performance and running injuries. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports30(9), 1692–1704. https://doi.org/10.1111/sms.13725
  • 3
    Quinn, T. J., & Manley, M. J. (2012). The impact of a long training run on muscle damage and running economy in runners training for a marathon. Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness10(2), 101–106. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesf.2012.10.008
  • 4
    American College of Sports Medicine. (2009). Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise41(3), 709–731. https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0b013e31890eb86
  • 5
    Naderi, A., Gobbi, N., Ali, A., Berjisian, E., Hamidvand, A., Forbes, S. C., Koozehchian, M. S., Karayigit, R., & Saunders, B. (2023). Carbohydrates and Endurance Exercise: A Narrative Review of a Food First Approach. Nutrients15(6), 1367. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15061367
  • 6
    American College of Sports Medicine. (2009). Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise41(3), 709–731. https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0b013e31890eb86
  • 7
    Jeukendrup, A. E. (2017). Training the Gut for Athletes. Sports Medicine47(S1), 101–110. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-017-0690-6
  • 8
    NILSSON, J., & THORSTENSSON, A. (1989). Ground reaction forces at different speeds of human walking and running. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica136(2), 217–227. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-1716.1989.tb08655.x
  • 9
    Barnes, K. R., & Kilding, A. E. (2014). Strategies to Improve Running Economy. Sports Medicine45(1), 37–56. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-014-0246-y
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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