It’s not unusual to open Facebook and read about people who have just finished a long training session, who have run a marathon (or perhaps added another one to their CV), or who do workouts that we find incredible or unattainable.
For those of us who’ve just started running, reading about people who are able to cover distances that we could only imagine doing by car can be discouraging. But we should always keep in mind that even those who are able to run 42km once started from basic 5-10’ runs, and so you can do it too! We’re about to reveal to you the secrets for building up stamina.
What characteristics must an athlete have to ‘have stamina’, that is to say, being able to run for a long time?
– First of all, a word of advice: before starting any activities (competitive or otherwise) it is advisable to undergo a sports-medical examination beforehand to make sure that you are fit enough to do sport. Your GP can tell you more, but never underestimate this; there’s a reason why this is almost the first thing we say.
– There are no shortcuts! Put your mind at ease: if you can run long-distance, it means you’ve sweated first. To have stamina you need application and willpower. Which doesn’t mean overdoing it, but doing it cautiously. A trainer or even a training schedule can help you to start running regularly. But remember that only you can put in the time.
– Keep a steady pace. This is the key to building up stamina. We often see athletes start with one fast run a week, then do a second run a week later. Absolutely not. Ignore speed for the time being and focus on quantity. Start with a short distance that you know you can run at a constant speed and can easily maintain without being completely short of breath.
– Recover. Keeping a steady pace doesn’t mean that from now on you have to run every day. The body needs to recover. Allow yourself at least one rest day between one session and the next. It is said that for those who recover well, at the end of the week it will be like having done an extra training session.
– A little more each time. Especially at the beginning, it’s useful to always add something more than the previous session, respecting how you feel, which only you can interpret. If you want to develop an endurance base, generally you can add 2-3’ to each basic session you do. You’ll see that reaching 50’ is easier than you think. But without overdoing it, remembering the advice given above.
– Get rid of boredom. Choose safe, well-lit paths, and run at consistent times. But also change path now and again so that the sessions and tracks don’t become repetitive. Run with someone else who is more or less at the same level if you can, remembering, especially at the beginning, that everyone has their own pace and it’s not a race.
– Mix it up. Once you reach a decent basic time (20-30 consecutive minutes), don’t limit yourself to the usual slow session: add 80-100m stretches at the end of the training, run in a relaxed way, at average speed, recovering for 1’30” between each interval.
Lorenzo Andreini – FIDAL instructor