How To Build Endurance Without Running?

How To Build Endurance Without Running? Increasing Stamina & V02 Max

Although the best way to build endurance for a runner is to run, sometimes time or injuries can keep us from hitting the pavement.

So what happens when this isn’t an option, is there a way to build endurance without running?

Luckily, there are ways to improve your endurance, strength, and performance without actually running. However, if you want to become a better runner, you must focus primarily on running.

Unfortunately, there are times when we aren’t able to do so. Whether lack of time or injury is the reason, there are multiple ways you can improve your running without actually running.

In this article, we discuss how to build endurance without running by using other forms of exercise to increase stamina, strength, and speed.

How To Build Endurance Without Running?

Injuries from running are often the reason many runners look for alternatives to build endurance. Luckily other sports can help hold or even increase stamina while you are taking a break from running.

Sports such as swimming and cycling are a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness while increasing your overall endurance. Both these physical activities are low in impact, so there is a chance that your underlying injury won’t be affected while doing these activities.

However, how can we use these two forms of exercise to benefit the runner in the best possible way?

Cycling as an Alternative to Running

Cycling as an Alternative to Running

Cycling for a start is going to improve your endurance much more than swimming. It is also going to burn more calories than swimming and mimic some of the muscles used while running.

First, start by focusing on a long ride each week. The long ride is similar to your long run but slightly longer. Doing so will help keep your aerobic fitness from declining when taking a break from running.

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The next step is to add some intensity to your weekly training. Just like running, there are numerous intervals you can include in your midweek training. It can involve a mixture of high-intensity workouts or steady-state efforts.

The best way to build endurance without running and on the bike is to focus on steady-state intervals first. These intervals are similar to tempo running and will allow you to replicate the same intensity as your tempo workout.

Other types of workouts you can include are:
– Threshold intervals (10-20 minutes)
– v02 intervals (4-8 minutes)
– Distance rides (1-2 hours)

All these workouts paired with your long ride each week will help you keep or better your endurance while you aren’t running.

While you are using cycling as an alternative to running, you must continue to increase the volume the same as running. Doing so will help prevent the body from adapting to the training early on.

By increasing the long ride or adding more repetitions to the intervals, you will prevent the body from plateauing and see an increased gain in your overall fitness.

If you have access to an indoor trainer, check out our article on some of the best indoor cycling workouts. These workouts can help the runner increase their endurance and are an alternative to high-intensity running sessions.

Swimming as an Alternative to Running

Swimming as an Alternative to Running

Just like cycling, swimming is a great way to build endurance without running. However, swimming is a much harder sport to grasp. Many people struggle to swim a length in the pool, let alone 30 minutes or more.

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So how can we use swimming to build endurance?

If you struggle to swim more than a few laps in the pool, try breaking up the swim into intervals. Below is an example of a beginner plan that caters to a newbie swimmer.

(EASY): 50-100m non stop – Breathing every 3rd stroke

Main set
8 X 25m ( MODERATE ): – Try to increase the pace slightly faster but make sure you are still in full control. Rest 15 seconds between each 25m effort.

2 X 75m ( STEADY ): Rest 30secs after each 75m

4 X 25m ( MODERATE ): – Try to increase the pace slightly faster but make sure you are still in full control. Rest 15 seconds between each 25m effort.

Warm down
(EASY): 50m

Following a basic swimming plan like this will help you get in the volume without tiring yourself out in the first 10 minutes.

As you become more comfortable in the water, you can look at increasing the warm-up and cool down. Once you reach 200m of warm-up and warm-down, you can begin to increase the number of intervals.

Swimming overall will help you work on your core strength, upper body and build endurance while not running. However, for most people, it’s good to pair swimming with cycling in the beginning until you can swim for longer periods.

Alternatively, if you are still struggling to swim, try adding some pool running (aqua jogging) into your training. Aqua jogging is one of the few physical activities where you can mimic your running technique without the impact of landing on a hard surface. However, for most people, pool running for extended periods is rather tiresome.

Instead, try pair aqua jogging with cycling or swimming to give you a more diverse range of endurance workouts.

Increase Vo2 Max Without Running

Increase Vo2 Max Without Running – Is It Possible?

V02 max is widely known to be a limiting factor in a runner’s performance. It tells us the maximum amount of oxygen our body can utilize during running. Because of this, it’s normal for runners to look for ways to improve their V02 max, whether through specific intervals or alternative forms of exercise.

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But the question remains, is it possible to increase V02 max without running?

Absolutely! As an example, XC skiing is one form of exercise that is a great way to enhance V02. Skiing uses your arms, back, legs, and core to help propel you forward. Because of this, xc skiers have some of the best V02 max numbers recorded. However, you may live in a warmer climate and not have access to the snow. In this case, cycling is probably your next best bet.

To increase your V02 max without running, you will need to focus specifically on short workouts on the bike. Workouts between 3 and 5 minutes are your best option here, paired with some short hard efforts of 1 minute on an alternative day.

A basic example of this is:
– Warm up for 15 minutes.
– Next do 2-3 x 30sec harder efforts to raise the heart rate.
– 5 x 3 minutes at a hard intensity (8-9/10).
– Ride easy 3-5 minutes between each effort.
– Warm down for 10-15 minutes.

Unfortunately, V02 max can only be increased by 5-15% on average, so don’t expect to see massive gains in a short time. But this doesn’t mean you should forget about it. It is still a vital part of your training.


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