Whether you’ve recently taken up running to get into shape or are a seasoned marathon runner, building up your stamina should be one of your fitness goals. Increasing your stamina will help you run further and improve your day-to-day life as you’ll have more energy to get through everything you need to do, even with a packed schedule.
When working on improving your stamina, taking a holistic approach that includes a dedicated exercise regime, proper nutrition, and rest is essential.
Why You Need Stamina to Run Marathons
Stamina is the ability to remain active and exert yourself for an extended period. Good stamina allows you to perform an activity, like running at a high capacity for a long time, and it includes both physical and mental capability.
When you have increased stamina, you can run a longer distance without becoming tired, which is why it is important for a runner.
If you’re new to running, you may feel fatigued after only running a short distance, but with time, as you build up your stamina, you won’t get tired as quickly and can run further. You must remember that building stamina and work towards running longer distances takes time, so be patient and trust the process!
How Exercise Improves Stamina
When you exercise regularly, your stamina will increase over time. The key to improving your stamina is to practice a principle called Progressive Overload. This means that you do a challenging activity or workout, and as it becomes more manageable, you increase its difficulty to push yourself continually.
For example, if you’re a beginner and start by going for a twenty-minute walk, when this becomes comfortable, you can jog instead of walk and then run instead of jog. If you’re weight lifting, you can increase the weight that you lift.
Cardio activities like running, cycling, or swimming strengthen your heart and lungs. This, in turn, allows oxygen to be distributed through your body more efficiently. When muscles are well oxygenated, they perform better, and you’re less likely to get tired.
Lastly, strength training exercises build your muscles, making them stronger, so you can run further without fatigue.
Exercises You Should Try
To increase your stamina, it is best to include a combination of cardio and strength training into your routine. There are many different workouts and exercise plans, so choosing the ones you enjoy is a good idea.
Walking or Running
If you are keen to run marathons but have never participated in one, an excellent first step would be to start walking. You can walk on the treadmill if you have one at home or the gym, or you can walk in a park or on the street.
There is no minimum time you need to walk for. Go at your own pace and at an intensity you can manage and increase your speed as it becomes less challenging.
You can improve your stamina by making your runs more challenging for those who are already runners. If you normally go for a half-hour run, increase the time you run by a few minutes. Make your run more challenging by running up a hill instead of only on a flat surface, or if you’re running on a treadmill, increase the incline to steeper.
Swimming is an excellent cardio workout that is gentle on your joints. It provides full-body training, and since you have to control your breathing, it helps you to build your lung capacity. This is especially true if you alter your breathing pattern.
Like running, you can start at a pace you’re comfortable with. Swim a short distance slowly and then increase the speed and distance.
Along with cardio, you must also include strength training in your exercise plan.
If you’ve just begun your fitness journey, you can start by doing exercises that rely on your body weight as resistance, like:
As you become comfortable with these activities, you can add weight training to your workouts. You can train with free weights like dumbbells and kettlebells, use weight machines at the gym or incorporate a combination of both.
Another option to make your workouts more difficult is to use resistance bands.
Useful Training Tips
Deciding on an exercise plan might seem easy, but there are a few things you must keep in mind when planning your workouts.
Mix it Up
You may find routine comfortable but doing the same workout at the same pace week in and week out does nothing to build stamina. After about two weeks, your body becomes used to the training, and it’s no longer challenging, so the best way to increase your stamina is to switch things up.
A good way to do this is to alternate between different types of exercise, so if you like running, run once a week and then go for a cycle, swim,, or do a HIIT class on the other days.
When you do strength training, do different exercises and change the equipment you use as resistance. For example, if you’re working legs, you can alternate between the following:
Bulgarian split squats
Dumbbell step ups
It also helps to change up the equipment you use too. If you work out at a gym, you are likely to find a variety of equipment you can use as resistance like dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, medicine balls, and ropes. If you work out at home and don’t have access to different equipment, you can just focus on changing your exercise.
If you’re stuck for inspiration, there are tons of different workouts you can follow online for free.
Cut Down the Length of Rest Time between Sets
As you progress, reduce the time you take to rest between sets. Most people take between thirty to ninety seconds to rest between sets which is fine to begin with, but to increase your stamina,; you must shorten this time gradually.
To increase your stamina, you must commit to working out consistently. Being consistent and working out regularly allows your body to adapt to the exercise; as you adapt, you must increase the difficulty. You will find that with regular workouts, the activities you struggled with will become easier to do, and then you know it’s time to push yourself harder.
When you’re not consistent and train off and on, you will usually not be able to progress to more strenuous exercise, which will not help build your stamina.
To perform at your optimal level, you need sufficient vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and energy to fuel your body and help it repair after you put it through a grueling workout. A balanced diet should include a large selection of fruits and vegetables, protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs. Processed foods and sugar should be limited.
While eating whole foods is best, this is not always possible, especially if you lead a busy life. It’s helpful to include healthy and natural supplements in your diet to ensure you get all the nutrients you need. This will ensure you get a good dose of nutrients even if you’re skipping the occasional meal or grabbing a less than nutritious fast food meal.