Building endurance in small steps
According to the American Council on Exercise performance athletes spend the majority of their training time at a comfortable level. This comfortable level is defined as “below the first ventilatory threshold (VT1).” This may sound fancy but it’s actually quite simple. You can measure the point of your VT1 by engaging in the “talk-test.” The talk-test demonstrates that you have reached VT1 when it becomes difficult to speak… Simple as that.
You may think that to get better at running you need to run to your limits every single day. Don’t do that, I’ve known people that did this and they HATE running.
Instead we’re only going to plan for 3 running sessions in a given week, for arguments sake let’s say Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. On the weekdays we want to run/walk for a given amount of time (start with 20 minutes). The idea here is to ensure that we are staying in that comfortable range (below VT1). On Saturday we’re going to run a specified distance without time constraints, still staying below VT1.
Over time you want to work to increase the distance ran on Saturday. On the weekdays we initially want to increase the amount of time spent running until we are more comfortable on longer runs, then we may begin to designate specific distances on those days. It is important to keep in mind that these distances should not exceed 50% off e distance ran on Saturday.
Check out the Mayo Clinic’s recommended 5k training regimen for beginners for a great example of this running program.
Increasing your engine power
Now that we have a method to get your machine running we naturally are going to want to do what most Americans want out of their vehicle: a more powerful engine.
To get more power out of our running we need to look to weightlifting, specifically: loaded squats. The squat has been called “the King of all exercises” but is also the disdain of bro-lifters everywhere. Working squats into your routine (1-2 sessions per week) will add that power to your legs necessary for quick bursts of energy.
When I say “loaded” I am referring to the use of extra weight, while air squats are great they simply aren’t going to get the same result as loaded squats. It doesn’t have to be all that much but the more squats are integrated into your training the better your running performance will be.
Great running programs are not defined by constantly running to your limit. You should be running at a comfortable race and only demanding a specific distance be covered in one session per week. Once you are beginning to cultivate endurance you can focus on adding power to your running form, namely through squatting.