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What is long distance running?

What is Endurance Running? A Guide to Long-Distance Running

You may be new to running or training for your first event. Either way at some point you may have wondered what is endurance running. Commonly known as long-distance running, endurance running is a form of running that covers distances of at least 5 kilometers in distance. However, for the more experienced runner, this would be classed as running more than 60 minutes rather than 20-30 minutes. Either way, physiologically, it is mostly an aerobic form of exercise that takes a long period of time. This also doesn’t just apply to running, other sports like cycling, swimming and rowing are other sports that require endurance.

So in this article, we break down what endurance running is, and how it is relevant if you are a runner.

What is Endurance Running – What Should You know?

Firstly, you don’t need to be an elite runner or even dedicated for that matter. All that matters is that you are able to cover long distances by running. This is usually done by regular training and by increasing your endurance. That means increasing either your weekly mileage or long run.

Doing so helps build up your aerobic system and muscular strength which then helps you complete longer runs.

Luckily you can still build endurance without running. Other endurance sports such as swimming and cycling can help build endurance that can also benefit you when running.

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Either way, endurance training is all about building the cardiovascular system, building muscular endurance, and strengthening the tendons and bones to handle the rigors of running.

What is Endurance Running

How Long Should an Endurance Run Be?

To be classed as an endurance run, how long should an endurance run be? Well, this ultimately depends on the person and their current fitness. Generally, an endurance run is classed as being longer than 5km in distance.

A more experienced runner would class anything longer than 60 minutes an endurance run. This type of run is usually spent in heart rate zone 2 or between 65 and 75% of their maximum heart rate.

An endurance run should also be implemented into your training plan correctly. Doing too much endurance running or running these sessions too fast can end up having a negative effect on your form and fitness.

How to increase Endurance – Running Workouts to Build Endurance

What is Endurance Running Pace?

Since we already know what endurance running is, what speed should we be running to class our run as an endurance run.

Your endurance running pace should sit between 55 and 75% of your 5km pace. Alternatively, keep your average heart rate below 75% of your maximum heart rate. Research has shown us that running harder than this during the long run provides more negatives than positives. It also doesn’t provide much more physiological benefit.

What Makes an Endurance Runner?

Generally, someone that runs often or runs long distances is classed as an endurance runner. An endurance runner is also someone that can exert themselves for a long period of time. That means they have the ability to recovery, resist and withstand the rigors of running for a long period of time.
Ultimately this “time” is different for each person. Someone that pushes themselves to run 10km may class themselves as an endurance runner, whereas an elite 800m runner (even though they run high mileage) typically don’t class themselves as one.

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Is Endurance Important for Running?

Is Endurance Important for Running?

When you first start running, how long can you run without stopping? As you run more and more, you start to build your endurance, which in turn helps you to run for longer periods of time.

This means that when you increase the amount you run, your muscles, tendons, bones, and cardiovascular system improve and adapt. Helping your body to withstand the rigors of running for longer.

Without this adaption and progression, you will be back feeling like that first run you did. Having to stop every 3-4 minutes to catch your breath and rest those tired muscles.

Generally, endurance is needed in most athletic activities, and the greater the endurance the better the health and physical fitness is. That’s why it is important to increase the distance you run or the amount you run each week. This is necessary for the body to improve its aerobic fitness or commonly known as endurance or stamina.

Should I Build Endurance or Speed First?

Before your start thinking about building endurance or speed first, you must first decide on a goal or event. This is important because depending on the length of your event, and background, you may need a longer period of time building endurance. Alternatively, if you are a regular runner you may only need a short period of time to build your endurance through mileage.

Building endurance first in any program is most common. That means spending anywhere from 8-12 weeks increasing the weekly mileage and/or the duration of the long run. After this period of training, you would look then to incorporate some strength and then speed work into the plan.

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While this is generally the most common layout for most runners, there is such a thing as reverse periodization. This is where you look to focus on speed early in the plan and then focus on building endurance later in the plan.

However, both have their positives and negatives. Some people thrive off increasing their speed and strength before building endurance. While others may need some weeks of mileage to increase their form.

Either way looking over your past training or talking to a running coach can help set you in the right direction. Remember what may work for your running partner, may not work for you. We all adapt and improve by using different techniques in training, so you just need to find what works for you.