Here’s Exactly How You Can Run Longer Without Getting Tired
Sports & Activity
Find out what’s causing you to feel fatigued a mile into your run, then, learn helpful tips on how you can boost both your physical and mental stamina.
Many runners experience fatigue during a run. But what if that fatigue prevents them from completing the run without stopping, or at all? Feeling tired during a workout is a key sign that you need to improve your cardiovascular endurance. More than that, it’s an indicator you need to work on your mental stamina and how you’re preparing for your run.
It’s easy to assume that if you can’t run without getting tired, you’re unfit. But in reality, there are many more components that contribute to the feeling of fatigue that crops up during physical activity for a runner.
You Need to Work on Your Cardio
As a runner, you want to run long distances without experiencing exhaustion, or needing to take walk breaks every five minutes. So it’s time to work on your cardio!
Cardiovascular fitness refers to how efficiently your cardiovascular system can transport oxygenated blood around your body to your working muscles. Cardiorespiratory endurance refers to how long you can sustain this during physical activity, before you get tired.
At a very basic level, a runner with good cardio can run for longer. It means their heart, lungs, muscles, and blood vessels are healthy and efficient.
How to Improve Cardio
The best way to improve your cardiorespiratory endurance is to run as regularly as you can. How many times a week should you run? You don’t want to run every day because recovery is vital. You need to give your cardio system the chance to adapt as part of your training plan.
Endurance is a marker of how long you can sustain exercise. To improve your endurance, you’ve got to push yourself into some long runs. If you’re only sticking to short one-mile runs, your body isn’t placed under any new stress, and it won’t learn to adapt to a higher output.
Incorporate at least one long run per week. Test yourself with long distances — it’s okay to take walk breaks! The goal is to try and delay them as much as you can and to lengthen the running period each time, until you can run the distance non-stop.
Tip: A helpful way for runners to monitor their tiredness is to take a mental note of the rate of perceived exertion (RPE). The RPE scale is used to self-measure the intensity of your workout. If you have a high heart rate, are short of breath and unable to keep going, you can expect your RPE to be at a nine or 10 (out of 10). This is reflective of high-intensity exercise. When you reach this, try decreasing your speed or walking until your RPE comes back down to a five or six. This type of interval training is an effective way to increase endurance and run for longer during your workout, from start to finish.
You Need to Work on Your Mental Stamina
Stamina is a term often used interchangeably with endurance. But there are a few key differences between the terms. Endurance specifically relates to physical fitness, whereas stamina also encompasses mental fitness. It’s not just how long your body can work for, it’s how long your mind can.
You may be feeling mentally tired soon into your run, but your body can handle it. For beginner runners, or people who struggle to enjoy running, it’s easy to let your mind take over and give up early in your run.
How to Improve Mental Stamina
To move beyond a mental running block and push through it, follow these tips:
1.Motivate Yourself with Music
It's a good idea to make a motivating music playlist to listen to while running that includes all your favorite upbeat songs. If you start listening to slow-paced music, your own pace may reflect the beat. Instead, listen to music with a tempo of 120 to 140 beats per minute. This will keep you energized and motivated as you run mile after mile.
2.Redirect Your Focus
It’s easy to get tired when your focus is centered around how hard your run is. Distract yourself by setting a goal of reaching a landmark in the distance, or think about something else — the book you’re reading, your work day, your weekend plans? Redirect your focus from the distance and the miles to something fun and a better pace will follow.
Think of your motivation. Maybe you want to perform better in the gym, lose weight, or just feel more confident in life. Let this be your incentive to keep going the distance and keep your pace consistent.
4.You Need to Work on Your Preparation
Running is taxing on the body and mind. It’s not something you should go into if you’re dehydrated, sleep-deprived, hungry, or improperly prepared physically. But yet so many runners do, and then they wonder why they’re hit with exhaustion a mile into their run or their pace suffers.
How to Prepare for Your Run
Consuming a carbohydrate-rich meal prior to your run can help to counteract the glycogen depletion that happens when you run long distances. Glycogen is stored carbohydrates, the body’s main fuel source used during a run. If you start a run in a glycogen depleted state, your body won’t have enough energy to sustain activity as the miles go by.
Any experienced runner knows that the night before a big morning run, or for lunch before an evening run, it’s time to carb-load! Consume a high-carb meal such as rice, pasta, or potatoes and you'll be able to run longer.
A review published by the Journal of Sport and Health Science in 2015 found that dehydration can lead to significant reductions in physical performance. Before your run, make sure you are adequately hydrated. This will prevent you from getting a cramp and reduce hydration-related tiredness.
During and after your run, pay extra attention to replenishing electrolyte levels. As per a study published in Nutrition, “endurance athletes should drink beverages containing carbohydrate and electrolyte during and after training.” The researchers go on to mention that athletes rarely replace fluids lost in sweat, but it’s a must for optimal performance and speed.
3.Control Your Breathing
When your heart rate increases, so does your breathing rate. But fast, shallow breaths cause the body to offload more carbon dioxide. This makes it harder to oxygenate our cells. As a result, your muscles cramp, you might get a side stitch, and you start to feel exhausted. How you breathe can really affect your workout.
Instead, try nasal breathing. Take a deep breath through your nose for two counts, and exhale through your nose for two counts. This steadies your breathing rate to ensure an optimal intake of oxygen.
Avoid running without a warm-up first. Performing some dynamic stretches and low-intensity aerobic exercise for five to 15 minutes before a run can help to reduce injury risk by warming up your muscles. Factor each warm-up into your training plan to avoid running out of time or coming up with excuses. And then, look forward to faster runs, whether you're going just a few miles of prepping for a half marathon. Don't forget to cool down by walking.
For more expert-driven tips, be sure to download the Nike Run Club (NRC) app!