Sports Workout: I Want More Endurance!

If you want to last longer while exercising, follow these tips to gain workout endurance.

Every runner wants to increase her endurance, but different people mean different things by “endurance.” Beginners usually want to increase the distance they can run, while more advanced runners want to improve their speed endurance, the rate at which they can run long distances.

There is no one key to building endurance, largely because everyone is different when it comes to building up the body’s thresholds. So-called low-responders and high-responders need different combinations of long runs, speed runs and beyond.

But while there is no one method that is guaranteed to work, rest assured that at least one of the following will help you build your endurance:

One Step at a Time:

The most basic way to run further is to do it. For beginning runners, run as far as you feel you can, then walk until you feel you can run that same distance again, and repeat for the duration of your workout. Intermediate runners should simply add distance at roughly a rate of one mile per week. Patience and persistence are the keys here. Listen to your body, but be sure to set goals and stick to them.


Plyometrics, explosive jumping exercises, increase your endurance while also building muscle. Cycle through six or so different exercises like squat jumps and lunge jumps, performing about ten reps, with little or no rest until the end.


A fartlek is more than a word you just snickered at: it’s a running format that alternates jogging with hard running (not quite sprinting). You can use a stopwatch, the lines on a track, or more excitingly, the landmarks and terrain of wherever you run: the unpredictability keeps you and your body from taking it easy.

One basic and effective fartlek workout goes like this:

  • 10-minute warm-up jog.
  • Stride hard for 30 seconds, jog 90 seconds. Repeat with 15-second decreases in recovery jog; e.g. 30-90, 30-75, 30-60, 30-45, 30-30, 30-15 and 30-15. Repeat this two more times.
  • 10 minute cool-down jog.

However you do them, fartleks are tough workouts that build both speed and distance endurance.

Tempo Runs

Fartleks may ask you to alternate jogging with hard running, but runners can also build endurance by alternating pace more broadly over the course of a longer run. Run a fast mile, two slow ones and another fast one, for example. Find a plan for this type of workout here.

Interval Training

Interval training, also referred to as track workouts, involves bouts of sprints with short breaks in between. Interval training is especially good for improving your speed endurance because it forces you to run at top speed.

A basic interval workout for a standard 400m track is to run 10x400m with a 60 second break after each sprint. More advanced workouts vary distances and play with pacing, requiring you to beat your lap time with each successive sprint, or starting with a short 200m sprint, working up to an 800m and back down to 200m.

Yasso 800s are an especially notorious interval workout. Named for their inventor and originally designed as marathon training, the workout consists of 10x800m sprints. After each one, rest by walking for as long as it took you to run the 800. Plus, your 800 pace supposedly predicts your marathon pace: a three-minute 800 means a three-hour marathon, and so forth.


Swimming is a great, zero-impact cardio workout that will build endurance and work different muscles. Try substituting your run once a week with freestyle swimming.

Remember: Endurance Is A Marathon, Not A...

The key to building endurance is establishing a routine and sticking to it, increasing the difficulty over time so you continually challenge your body.

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