You don’t have to aspire to the Olympics to want to go faster and farther in your own athletic goals. According to Tanya Kalyuzhny, DPT, MDT, director of physical therapy at the ONS Greenwich office, there are different schools of thought as to how to safely and most effectively build up your endurance, however, there are a few proven methods that may help you in the long run.
“Heavy weight training as an effective tool to build endurance has gotten a lot of attention recently due to a number of new studies pitting control groups against groups trained in different forms of heavy weight training,” Tanya explained, “In each study, runners who underwent challenging resistance exercise programs achieved significant improvement in running economy and capacity when compared to those who did not train with weights.”
Another approach to go longer distances at greater speeds involves adding a half mile or mile to your weekend running sessions, even if it is at a slower pace, she suggests. Combine this with weekday sessions that alternate between 30 minute walk-run combinations and tempo runs. A tempo run is a shorter distance run at a faster clip than a runner’s comfortable pace. Skip the longer run every fourth week to allow your body to recover. When you resume the following weekend, add another mile to your route. To further increase your stamina, pick up the pace for the last 25 percent of the run.
Technical efficiency is also a key element in building endurance. Running tall with your feet striking at your center of gravity, directly below your hips, will give you the greatest efficiency, particularly if you can keep up a cadence of about 160 -180 steps per minute.
Another endurance training option Tanya recommends is to incorporate the Yasso® 800 method into routine. This once a week training program calls for running 800 meters – usually two laps around a track, in the same amount of minute/seconds that you want to achieve for you marathon time in hours/minutes. For instance, if you want to run a marathon in 3 hours and 57 minutes, you would then aim to run your 800 meter sprints in 3 minutes and 57 seconds. Start with 3 or 4 800 meter go-arounds and increase the
repetition each week until you are running 10 x 800 meter sprints.
Off road, recovery practices that include days off, quality sleep and nutritional replenishment will give you the energy to pursue a high level of performance in your training sessions while protecting you from the overuse and stress injuries that plague nearly 80 percent of distance runners. Studies have shown that sleeping between eight and ten hours a night leads to increased performance and mental fortitude in athletes. Unless you are an elite marathon runner, you should be taking at least two day’s rest each week and varying length and intensity of training from one day to the next. Refueling should begin immediately following a workout, first by replacing fluid and electrolytes, about 16 – 24 ounces for every pound you lose during exercise. Within a half hour, add a smoothie or snack containing complex carbohydrates and protein to restore muscle glycogen and promote protein synthesis. Another light meal containing carbohydrates, healthy fat and protein should be eaten a few hours later.
Without a committed recovery routine, your motivation could suffer as well as your body. When paired with physical exhaustion, psychological stress can drain the desire and energy to get up and out, and hit the road another day.