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11221 Views 9 Replies Latest reply: Sep 1, 2014 6:16 PM by JirinPanthosa
Rissiroo Rookie 2 posts since
Jun 27, 2014
Currently Being Moderated

Jun 27, 2014 12:29 PM

Best way to increase endurance?

Hi, I'm looking for tips to increase the distance I can run before having to stop and walk.


I've been running for 3x a week for about 3 months now. After a breif warm up, I run as far as I can without stopping, and then I alternate walking/running for a total distance of 2.5 to 3 miles. (I also run each subsequent interval for as long as I can before walking). When I first began, my endurance for the first leg of my run steadily increased each week. But I haven't made any progress in the last 4 weeks and I'm not sure how to overcome this plateau.


Right now, I typically make it 0.5 to 0.7 miles before I have to stop. My short term goal is to run 1 mile before needing to stop the first time (I have actually hit this benchmark on 3 occasions, but I want to be able to do it consistently) and eventually I want to run a 5k without stopping.


My husband suggested running slower, but I already run at the slowest pace I can tolerate--approx.11:00 minute mile. When I try running slower, it feels like I'm jogging in place, which is very uncomfortable and no fun! Plus, the shorter stride causes my leg muscles to tighten and cramp up, forcing me to stop even sooner than usual. Also, I dont know if this matters, but I usually stop running the first time because my legs are burning and/or feel like lead, not because I'm out of breath. Of course, eventually I do stop running because I'm out of breath on subsequent intervals. But oddly enough, I find my legs have stopped hurting by then! (usually around the 2 mile mark). 


I thought about increasing my total mileage, but every interval I run gets shorter and shorter. I feel like I'd just be walking more, and how will that help me run longer? Anyone have any ideas?

  • shipo Legend 499 posts since
    Aug 9, 2013
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Jun 27, 2014 1:09 PM (in response to Rissiroo)
    Best way to increase endurance?

    For a beginner, an eleven minute mile pace is way too fast.  I know it seems slow, but trust me, you should be closer to a fifteen minute pace for initial training.


    Long story short, slow down, extend your runs, and resist the temptation to speed back up until you're running five to six miles at a crack.  Believe it or not, with distance comes speed.


    Keep us posted on your progress.

    Fat old man PRs:

    • 1-mile (point to point, gravity assist): 5:50
    • 2-mile: 13:49
    • 5K (gravity assist last mile): 21:31
    • 5-Mile: 37:24
    • 10K (first 10K of my Half Marathon): 48:16
    • 10-Mile (first 10 miles of my Half Marathon): 1:17:40
    • Half Marathon: 1:42:13
  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,539 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Jun 27, 2014 7:10 PM (in response to Rissiroo)
    Best way to increase endurance?

    Have you considered using Couch-to-5K? (


    Clearly, if you have to stop after a half-mile or so because your "legs are burning and/or feel like lead", you are clearly running (much) too fast.  Being "out of breath on subsequent intervals" is another sign of running too fast.  You have to learn to slow down. By that I mean maybe 11:45 - 12:00 miles instead of 11:00.  The only reason I can think for your legs to tighten and/or cramp at a slower pace is that you aren't running relaxed.  There is really no good reason for cramping at a slower pace.  Teaching yourself to relax might be the best first step.


  • BarbaraCummings1 Rookie 4 posts since
    May 8, 2014
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Jun 30, 2014 12:23 PM (in response to Rissiroo)
    Best way to increase endurance?

    I've started running with the Couch to 5k plan and I loved it. It's an easy to follow and free plan with an app for my i-phone. It tells me when to run and when to walk. If I had just tried to run longer by myself, I wouldn't have made it to where I am now which is about 3 months into running with successful 3 to 6 Mile runs (no walking) 4 times a week.

    I think a possible reason for your cramping issues might your running form. Do you have a running store nearby that can do a proper shoe fit for you and possibly even analyse your form? I have a store near me that videotapes customers on the treadmill and then discuss the results with them before making recommendations on shoes.

    By the way, my current pace is between 11:30 and 12:30min/mile and I'm quite happy with that. If I tried to run faster I wouldn't be able to run as long. This is how I view it: After my first Marathon I can start worrying about speed.

    Hope this helps!

  • HeyBales Rookie 1 posts since
    Nov 14, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Jul 10, 2014 12:49 AM (in response to Rissiroo)
    Best way to increase endurance?

    First - you are only training your upper aerobic and/or anaerobic system by trying to go out as fast as you can for as hard as you can. What the pace is doesn't matter - how hard the effort is for you is what matters.

    That upper range isn't about endurance until way way way down the road, you have no aerobic base to even be concerned with that side of the range yet.


    Second - what cramps up exactly - legs is pretty big body part, which part of the legs?

    If your stride is like the running attempt with long reach but not stepping often (turn-over), then you are just pounding yourself in to the ground, and sure cramps should be expected.


    Third - get enough sodium, potassium, magnesium in your diet, drink enough water?

    You could be barely on the verge of decent into terrible range, and the running just pushes your legs over the line that was pretty close already.


    Slowing down takes care of much of this, as mentioned, but try to get your foot strikes to 80-90 per min if they are not.


    And interval jogging / walking is great training idea - but you don't do the jog part at such a speed as you can't make it anymore. As you have proven, it doesn't actually make for good recovery.


    Do about 1 min jog to 1 min walk, that's 50%. And jog, not run as in all out, jog slow holding yourself back.

  • KristenBaker97 Rookie 1 posts since
    Jul 8, 2014
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. Jul 10, 2014 7:43 AM (in response to Rissiroo)
    Best way to increase endurance?

    Like others have been saying, I've been using C25K and really love it. I've run through my life, but have never been really about to make it past running two miles straight. When I recently started up again (after a couple years of no running and being pretty out of shape) my goal was to run a 5k w/ my husband, so I started the C25K program. One thing I discovered is that by alternating between slower/faster speeds I was able to more comfortably go further. I don't know if it's just that my body needs variety or what.. Also, I dramatically decreased the speed at which I ran. As in, alternating between 5.2 to 5.8 m/hr, whereas in the past I would run at about 6, 6.2 m/hr. (also keep in mind I'm


    Between slowing down my speed, and alternating speeds, I've been able to push past that block I've had in the past. two cents anyway. Can't say anything about the cramping.

  • db_woodall Amateur 16 posts since
    Mar 15, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. Jul 16, 2014 3:45 PM (in response to Rissiroo)
    Best way to increase endurance?

    If you are already running as slow as you can comfortably run, then it seems to me that you need (for now at least) to do a run/walk.  There is no shame in doing a run/walk just as there's no glory in running constantly.  The only person who cares is you. What matters is that you get out there, have fun, build fitness and endurance, and get your endorphin fix in .


    That said, a run/walk plan is a good way to build endurance.  Running until you get tired and then taking walk breaks is not a good idea because once you get to the point that you're that tired, you'll have dead legs for the remainder of the run - which is no fun at all. By taking regular breaks you can run at a comfortable speed and cover much more ground before you begin to get tired (and often do it at a faster overall pace than you could do by just running at a slow pace).


    You could start at a 3:1, which is 3 minutes running to 1 minute walking.  Use RunKeeper or other running app that allows you to program the intervals.  Once you build up to a desired distance, say 10K or 15K, then start toying with the intervals to do more running and less walking.  Your legs will already be accustomed to the distance. You could then try a 3.5:1 or 4:1, or a 3:0.5.  The only rule is to not walk for more than 1 minute.  I think that you'll also find that if you can run/walk a comfortable pace for 15K, you'll also be able to run a 5K at a comfortable pace with no breaks.


    You can also mix in other workouts, such as Yasso 800's or mile repeats that help get you used to longer spans of running at a higher intensity.

  • Kelly1066 Pro 144 posts since
    Jul 12, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Aug 20, 2014 5:29 AM (in response to Rissiroo)
    Best way to increase endurance?

    I'm also a huge fan of Couch to 5k! 


    Another thing that might help is doing a little cross training.  You can help your aerobic capacity while giving your legs a bit of a rest from impact and running-specific muscles by doing something like swimming, cycling/spin class, or rowing once a week if you have access to those activities.  (I didn't for my first two years of running, part of the appeal of running is no gym membership or equipment besides shoes required!) 


    I recently bit the bullet and started doing a spin class once a week to improve my aerobic capacity while using different leg muscles, and I found it added a day I could work out without interfering with my runs.


    It might be worth considering doing something like that to mix things up, in addition to sticking with a walk/run program and realizing that progress is slow but is happening!  (Many training plans are 8-12 weeks for a 5k, and 16 weeks for a half marathon or marathon... that's a long time for a reason!)


    Best wishes and happy running.

    I write a running blog geared towards motivating runners of any pace or distance at!

    Couch to 5K graduate, September 2012

    First 10K, June 2nd, 2013

    First Half Marathon, September 2013

    Training for my 7th half marathon, May 2016 and first Triathlon, Tri for a Cure, July 2016.

    Twitter: @iamrunningthis

  • JirinPanthosa Expert 58 posts since
    May 23, 2013
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. Sep 1, 2014 6:16 PM (in response to Kelly1066)
    Best way to increase endurance?

    When I first started what I did was start by doing 3 min running, 2 min walking for 30 minutes, then 4 min running, 1 min walking, then 4:30 running, 0:30 walking, and then just running.


    Don't give up, it took me forever to be able to consistently run 3 miles, but when I did I got from 3 up to 7 in the course of six weeks.

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