Im a 40-ish yr old female who usually works out at a gym (teach & take fitness classes) and trains in martial arts. Ive been running occasionally since high school though and decided to train for my first marathon last January. Below are some things I did to increase my running stamina. Note that I could run only 3 days a week, 30-40 MPW, due to my other physical activities, so items 4 and 5 were mainly to get more from my limited running workouts.
1) Changed my diet by boosting my carbs, protein and total calorie intake.
2) Started rehydrating more regularly during all of my runs and refueling during my long runs (didnt used to drink or eat anything before)
3) Built up mileage gradually using step-up/step-back method, i.e., increased my weekly mileage each week by about 10% for 2 to 3 weeks then DROPPED it down to a lower level for a week before stepping it up to the new level, similar to many other marathon training schedules.
4) Added some speed workouts to improve my running form and raise my lactate threshold, both of which helped make the long runs seem easier. (Note that speed work is usually not part of a beginners marathoning training program).
5) Occasionally did 2 runs on one day (say, a hard morning run and a short easy evening jog) to increase capillarization, help muscle memory and as a recovery from the earlier harder workout.
6) Started educating myself on how to run long and strong (read books, visited websites, attended seminars, networked with other runners, etc.) from exercise science, physical and mental training perspectives.
7) Got my husband to help push me out the door every Sunday morning for my long runs. I then felt obligated to do my part by running the time or distance I was supposed to before returning home and reporting back to him.
8) Planned to treat myself to something really nice after each major milestone I completed in my marathon training (say, after each 20+ long run and each race).
9) Worked on some of the intangibles of endurance sports (courage, self discipline, perseverance and indomitable spirit) via my martial arts training.
As with anything new, the first time I trained for a marathon was the hardest. Im now tapering for my 4th and 5th marathons this year (9/20 & 10/5) and there is no doubt that running long is easier now than it was before.
Good luck to you!
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