Recent news releases announced that the City of Atlanta will be the host of the USA’s women’s and men’s marathon Olympic qualifying team race for the 2020 games. It’s an exciting time to be a runner in Atlanta, and no doubt many people will also be inspired by the incoming onslaught of Olympic-caliber marathoners hoping to make the US Olympic marathon team that they, too, may consider lacing up their shoes for the first time.
When you’re new to running, though, it can be really intimidating to figure out how to start or where to start. Most people intuitively know, for example, that they’re probably not going to be able to start at zero and suddenly just go run a marathon the next day. How you get to that point, though, remains a mystery for many people. They may want to run a marathon themselves one day, but how they go about doing that — how you can build running stamina when you’re currently at zero — is a bit of an enigma.
Building running stamina isn’t as mysterious as you may think. Below, I’ll provide some tips and guidelines that will help you build your running stamina slowly and safely. Who knows? Maybe by the time the Olympic marathon trials are in Atlanta for the 2020 Olympics, you’ll have even finished your first endurance race by then!
Some tips to help you build running stamina include the following:
Before anything, talk to your doc. Just to be on the safe side, particularly if you haven’t seen your physician in a while, go in and get his/her blessing. Make sure that running will be a physically safe endeavor for you and that you don’t have some lurking ailment or illness under the hood, beyond your line of vision. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Start very, very small. When you’re starting at zero, it may be maddening to think that you’re going to start off doing very little and staying at that level for a while before advancing. However, doing so is imperative so you can keep your injury risk at bay. When you begin, aim for 5 minutes of movement, interspersed between walking and running breaks. We call these “run-walk” or “walk-run” ratios. If, for example, you want to go out for 5 minutes, see what it feels like to run for 1 minute and then run for 30 seconds, and then repeat for the entirety of the 5 minute timeframe. In time, slowly but surely you will likely find that you can decrease your walking ratio and increase your running ratio. In addition, you may find that you’ll be able to bump-up your overall time, too, maybe going from 5 minutes, to 10 minutes, to 15, and so on.
Start very, very slowly. Don’t get trapped into thinking that in order to run, you have to sprint, as that can’t be further from the truth. When you’re building your running stamina, you should focus on keeping your pace easy and conversational — really, you should be able to sing and talk while you do it. Sprinting can be an effective way to get faster, but for now, when you’re focusing on building your stamina, it’s more important to keep the fire burning sloooooooowly.
Make incremental gains. It’s important to be patient with yourself as you embark on this new endeavor. Don’t think that you can make huge jumps right off the bat because you’re probably going to feel pretty sore as your body gets used to this new task that you’re asking of it. Maybe you’ll go out to run/walk for 5 minutes for an entire week before bumping up one of your days to 10 minutes or 15. You’re really an experiment of one here, so what works for your training partner may not work for you, and that’s ok. Keep in touch with your body and all the feedback that it’s giving you.
Join a training group. Finally, one of the best — and most fun! — ways to build your running stamina will be to join a local training group. It’ll be a great place for you to meet other runners with similar goals, and if you’re lucky, you’ll even find someone who’ll be run/walking similar paces as you. The mileage and time passes by so much more quickly — and so much more enjoyably! — when you get to share it with someone else. It’ll be like the healthiest happy hour you can have. Plus, you’ll be working under the supervision and guidance of a knowledgeable and qualified coach who can help to ensure that you’re progressing safely.
These are just a handful of the ways that you can work to build your running stamina. The underlying principle here is the importance of building your stamina slowly, cautiously, and conservatively. As long as you do that, you’ll be able to enjoy your miles and trails for years to come.
Happy trails to you!
Guest Post by Jane Grates
AUTHOR’S BIO: JANE GRATES
I love to run for marathons and trail running events. Producing at the sweet spot between beauty and mathematics to save the world from bad design. She also loves to write reviews on Runnerclick.