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How Runners Build Endurance

Can't Run More Than a Mile? Here's How to Make It Feel Easier

Many newbie runners give up on running because within a mile (or less), their legs are on fire and they're breathing so hard they feel like they're a huff and a puff away from passing out. Don't expect to be able to run five miles right from the get-go — it takes time to build endurance, and here are five ways to do it.

  1. Check your form: A broken machine won't run well, and the same goes for your body. Poor running form can cause aches and pains that make you want to stop in your tracks, so check your running form to ensure your body will feel like it can keep going and going.
  2. Run more often: As with anything, practice makes perfect. You can't expect to run like a gazelle if you only lace up your sneaks twice a week. Spread out your workouts over the week, running shorter distances more often. Try doing one- or two-mile workouts (choose a distance that works for your level of ability) five times a week. You'll be surprised at how quickly running starts to feel easier.
  3. Increase slowly: Once your breath starts to even out and your muscles become less fatigued, you can start increasing your mileage. Don't get ahead of yourself, though. Follow the 10 percent rule: never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent of the previous week. Not only will this help to prevent injury, but it'll also prevent your mind from feeling overwhelmed by doing too much too soon.
  1. Intervals: Running faster may be harder, but it'll increase muscle strength and lung capacity, which are key to building your endurance. Start off by adding a few 10-second sprinting intervals every few minutes, and gradually build up to 30-second sprints.
  2. Head for the hills: Running up hills is another way to build leg and core strength as well as lung endurance. Increase the incline on the treadmill, or find some natural hills outside and do a shorter version of this hill repeat workout. At first you'll curse the hills, but after a couple weeks, you'll be craving them.
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