How to Increase Stamina for Running

How to Increase Stamina for Running
Have you ever been out for a run and you find yourself gasping, wheezing and wondering "Why am I doing this?" It is an uncomfortable feeling that can easily make you want to hang up your running shoes and stick to couch surfing. Whether running for the first time or training for your hundredth marathon, everyone could benefit from more stamina while running. Imagine running side by side with someone during a race, as you near the finish line, the person next to you slowly begins to drop off your pace. Step-by-step he loses ground as you continue, what seems effortlessly, through the finish line. Here are some pointers to improving your stamina, which will hopefully make running a more pleasurable experience.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Before beginning any physical activity know that it is very important to stretch. If you are running in the morning, you should warm up your muscles prior to stretching them. You can do this by slowly running in place for a few minutes, jumping rope or doing jumping jacks. The goal here is to get the heart rate up a bit and wake up the muscles--you are not trying to burn yourself out so don't over do it. Once you have achieved this warm up, it is time to stretch. If you don't know which stretches to perform, you can find websites, such as Cool Running, that show various stretches and how to do them. The important thing is to ease yourself in to each stretch and hold each stretch for approximately 30 seconds.
Step 2
Once you have warmed and stretched the muscles it is time to hit the road or trail. Proper breathing is essential to running. Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. It is important to focus on your breathing pattern. As silly as it sounds you can unknowingly be holding your breath at times, which will tire you out quicker than going 30 seconds in the ring with Mike Tyson. Short quick breathes can often help in those times of extreme exertion.
Step 3
Learning to strike is an important way to becoming a more efficient runner. Having a gait analysis done is a good idea and will help determine if you have any deficiencies to overcome, such as under or over pronating. Many running specialty stores offer consumers free gait analysis prior to buying your shoes. The harder your feet hit the ground the quicker your muscles will get tired. A good way to make each stride a bit lighter is to strike with the heel to toe method.
Step 4
Understand that another way to increase your running stamina is to stay loose while running. When you are tense your muscles are tight, when your muscles are tight they will tire much faster than if you are loose and fluid. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed. Drop your arms to your sides and shake out your hands from time to time. If you have to stop at a traffic light or train crossing do a boxer shuffle, run in place or stretch while you wait.
Step 5
Know that one important thing that is often overlooked by runners is weight training. Hitting the gym two to three times a week for weight training will increase your strength and build stamina. You want to focus on light weights and more reps to build muscle endurance rather than bulking up. In addition to lunges, squats and leg presses to build leg strength, it is important to also focus on the upper body, abs and core to build overall muscle condition.
Step 6
Enjoy yourself. While it is true that running is often strenuous and at times uncomfortable do your best to enjoy each run. Use it as your time to get things off your mind or focus on things that need undisturbed thought. Mix things up a bit. If you have off-road trails near your home, get out on the trails. Running in the hills can be much more serene than pounding the concrete next to traffic.

Tips & Warnings

If you are new to running it is important to not over do it. Try running in intervals, such as one minute running and one minute walking. Work your way up by adding time to your run or decreasing your rest interval, such as running for two minutes walking for one minute or running for one minute and walking for 30 seconds.

Article Written By Greg Branam

Greg Branam is from Ventura County, Calif. When he is not building bicycles at work, writing, reading, playing guitar, or attending and promoting local live music, you will find him outdoors. The majority of his adventures include cycling, mountain biking, trail running, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, surfing or snowboarding.

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