Improve Your Running Stamina in 2021: 5 Hacks Backed by the Latest Scientific Studies
What are your tips to increase stamina in running?
What are your fitness goals for 2021? Are you planning on going from couch to 10k? Perhaps running your first half-marathon? Or are you looking to improve your running stamina?
Whichever of these activities seem appealing to you, one thing is for sure: you will need to pay close attention to your cardiovascular health and endurance.
Unfortunately, there are numerous myths in the fitness community regarding best practices around running. Widely-accepted opinions, such as that static stretching prevents injury in runners or that carb-loading makes for the best pre-run strategy, have now been disputed. And an increasing amount of science-backed data is emerging on the best ways to maximize athletic performance.
So, if you're ready to take your running to the next level, you might want to try out the following hacks for boosting your stamina.
1. Warming up
There's absolutely no question about the importance of a proper warm-up routine, whether you're about to go on your daily jog or are running a race.
Generally, you'll need to dedicate somewhere around 30 minutes (up to 45) to prepare your body for the challenge of an endurance run. And you'll need to pay proper attention to all parts of your body. Yes, that means your upper body as well.
Now, regardless of your favorite method of getting the muscles warm and ready to go, there's one thing that science is quite clear about. The best way to improve running stamina is to include dynamic lower extremity stretches in your routine. A 2018 research study comparing running-only with dynamic stretching warm-ups and looking at how they impacted VO2max found that the runners who included both exhibited a significant boost in endurance.
Fortunately, there are plenty of great exercises you can do to stretch your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. And, if you're a huge fan of static stretching, consider moving it to the end of your run. Sure, there's no scientific evidence suggesting that it's an effective injury-prevention method. Nonetheless, it's been shown to be a great way to wind down and release stress.
2. Don't Limit Your Workouts
You may feel like you need to do as much cardio as possible if you want to improve your running stamina. However, a 2017 research study found that the best way to increase cardiovascular endurance was to put athletes through a circuit training program.
The scientists had the experimental group perform a CT program 3 times per week for 8 weeks total. The program included a 5-minute warm-up followed by 2 rounds of eight circuit station exercises like battle rope, single-leg hops, barbell squats, tricep dips, jump squats, shoulder presses, etc. The intervals used 30 seconds of activity followed by 60 seconds of rest. After 4 weeks, both were bumped up by 30 seconds.
At the end of the 8 weeks, the experimental group displayed improved agility, muscle strength, and cardiovascular endurance, signaling that including strength training has a host of benefits for athletes, regardless of their specific goals.
3. Get More Sun Exposure
The past few years have seen a significant uptake in research around vitamin D levels and health. What was once considered a micronutrient that affected bone and muscle strength is now a key factor in ensuring overall physical and mental wellbeing.
In 2008, researchers began to understand that vitamin D deficiency increased the risk of autoimmunity and suppressed immune function. In 2012, a study looked at how vitamin D deficiency caused depression, seasonal affective disorder, and schizophrenia in adults and studied the implications for young adolescents. And, of course, in 2020, scientists turned to look at how levels impacted COVID-19 illness severity.
But the most interesting study dates to 2018 when a group of scientists looked at how vitamin D impacted stamina. What they found was that higher serum levels significantly affected cardiorespiratory fitness, that is VO2 max.
Considering the data, it's not a bad idea for runners to consider (and track) their sun exposure. Moreover, supplementation may be a good option during the winter months. It's always best to consult with a doctor first, however – especially seeing that the current recommended estimates range anywhere between 400 to 4000 IU per day.
4. Getting Sufficient Sleep
We all know that missing sleep has several detrimental effects on our health, including a slowed immune response and cognitive impairment. Nevertheless, many athletes still aren't prioritizing a solid 7 to 9 hours of shuteye per night.
But that might just be about to change.
According to a 2019 study, people who only slept 6 hours per night had a significantly higher likelihood of inadequate hydration. This, in turn, is known to affect endurance performance during exercise lasting longer than 1 hour.
So, if you're looking to improve your running stamina, 2021 may just be the year to get your sleep hygiene in order. Look for building up healthy habits to promote efficient rest. Avoid detrimental practices before bed and give yourself time to get all the sleep you need. Even if your endurance only improves a bit, the numerous other benefits will surely be worth the effort.
5. Accept Your Limits
Finally, although superhuman running stamina sounds great, this may be the year to reconsider the practice of overexerting yourself in the name of peak performance.
A 2020 study looked at the correlation between injuries and increased training intensity. It found that football players who became injured during the year saw an average of 111% increase in training intensity during the week when the injury occurred. The implications of the study include the recommendation that any uptake in training intensity should happen gradually. That goes for both professional and amateur athletes.
Another thing to consider when looking to boost stamina is that continual overexertion will not give you the desired results. This 2019 study found that regardless of the type of race runners were competing in, their energy expenditure started to sharply level off after 20 days. In layman's terms, the athletes' bodies were burning calories at a faster rate than they were capable of absorbing. What this means is that there's a hard limit to peak performance.
As you can see, the past three years have seen quite a few discoveries in the world of athletic performance. What's interesting is that all of the studies listed in this article point to the need for implementing healthy practices when aiming to boost endurance.
Overall, if you want to improve your running stamina in 2021, consider re-thinking your warm-up and cool-down routines. Add variety to your training regimen. Pay attention to your nutrition, sleep, and vitamin levels. And, of course, remember to rest.
With a combination of these practices, you're bound to see results. More importantly, you'll also decrease your likelihood of getting injured, which is the best way to ensure continual progress.
How can I increase my stamina?
1. Perform proper warm up 2. Perform different workouts during your running days 3. Get enough rest 4. Don't overwork yourself
What exercises can I do to increase my stamina?
You can perform circuit training and strength training to improved agility, muscle strength, and cardiovascular endurance.
Why is my running not improving?
The reason behind this is that you might overwork yourself and not getting enough rest. This will affect your endurance performance and increase the risk of getting an injury.
Is it OK to run in the sun?
Yes, you can choose to run in the morning or evening to avoid running in the sun. Getting sun exposure helps you to improve overall physical and mental wellbeing.