Run Less, Run Harder in Successful Running Training Plan for Endurance


How to increase stamina for running to build aerobic capacity, strength, and speed

One of the longest traditions in the world of running is to run lots and lots of miles to get faster and improve race times.

But so many miles takes a lot of time and takes a toll on your body.

What if you could increase stamina for running endurance by running fewer miles and doing more intense speed work?

Even with limited time, you are able to combine endurance miles with intensity for the perfect blend of training stimulus without building too much fatigue — and avoiding injury.

A pyramidal training can provide best of both worlds

Running a lot of miles takes a toll on the body. That’s thousands of footfalls.

Research suggests that doing fewer miles and adding intensity can improve race times.

Recent research at the University of Northern Iowa bears this out. Individuals who ran approximately 50 miles per week did not finish a marathon any faster than runners who averaged 40 miles per week at a similar intensity.

Runner’s World

Runners get faster by doing speed work — intervals that focus on building running efficiency, aerobic capacity, and muscle endurance.

Speed work includes nearly max efforts or intervals at a faster pace than normal. For example, doing 400s as fast as you can maintain for the entire lap.

The speed work improves VO2 max (your capacity to use oxygen).

You can also build a lot of aerobic capacity by doing tempo intervals that stress the system more than endurance runs, but cause less damage due to less time on the road.

That’s how to increase stamina for running: build capacity with long runs, build speed with intensity.

A running endurance training plan brings big benefits down the road

Endurance runs are still important.

But we don’t need to do 60–70 miles week to be fast in races.

In fact, some research indicates that doing only three runs a week can lead to significantly reduced marathon times.

These three runs include one long endurance run, one moderate-paced run, and one speed day. Two other days are dedicated to cross-training, particularly strength training.

If you are a beginning runner, or someone who’s doing less than 20 miles a week, adding more mileage will help build your fitness and aerobic capacity.

But if you’re already running more than 40 miles a week, then adding more will not help.

How to increase stamina for running is the balance of speed work and endurance.

That balance, plus strength training and yoga, is the reason to have a running training plan for endurance.

Not just miles but lifting heavy things and intervals

Recent research is suggesting that in addition to putting in the run training, lifting heavy things and doing intervals also builds endurance.

Building strength by lifting heavy things also increases the muscle’s capacity to do more by creating more mitochondria AND making them more efficient at producing energy.

And HIIT sessions kicks up the endurance adaption to exercise even more.

The downside of both strength training and HIIT is that you can’t do them every day. Your body can’t recover.

Lots of endurance miles, HIIT sessions, strength training, and recovery are the key elements of polarized training at Simple Endurance.

Only recovery makes the adaptations possible

There is an adage for training: gains are made when you sleep.

That’s truth.

Recovery days, yoga, proper and adequate fueling , and hydration are all key elements to rebuild our muscles and make them stronger that before.

Start off slowly and build your mileage up gradually.

Imagine that your body is a house, and training and other stressors are the weather and elements. You begin with a house made of straw, and your first bout of training is like a gust of wind. It knocks out a few walls and so you build them back up. If you have the means, you’ll probably build the new walls from brick. When the next bout of exercise comes along, your walls are more resilient, and this time nothing crumbles. You keep training, and as you do, you increase your training load, or stress, by lifting more weights, running more miles, or throwing more pitches.

Christie Aschwander, Good to Go

How do I create a running endurance training plan?

You need to go slow to get fast.

Then you need to go really hard to get faster.

A good training plan includes at least one long slow day, one or two interval days, some strength training, yoga and/or mobility work, and recovery/ rest.

How that kind of schedule works together to build up to your target event or adventure goal is what I do.

I build your program focused on the goals, building your fitness so that you’re ready to go by event day.

Want to know more? Go to my coaching at Simple Endurance Coaching where you can read more about new research and information about training for cycling and running, strength training, and yoga.



Paul Warloski, Simple Endurance Coaching

I help older cyclists reach their adventure and challenge goals through personalized, holistic training, strength work, and yoga.