Stamina is the physical and/or mental strength to sustain a task that may be difficult for long periods of time. For runners, whether out for a light afternoon jog, the city 2 surf, or training for a half marathon or even a full marathon, stamina is essential in order to complete your task successfully and enjoyably.
So, how can you increase your stamina and who would benefit from doing so?
The benefits of training to build up your stamina are not reserved to those who want to train for a specific event or marathon. It does become more crucial for big event circumstances, but the reality is that anyone who simply wants to go further with their exercise, can benefit from training to increase stamina.
Training to increase stamina incorporates different modalities of exercise but predominantly incorporates endurance training which has a range of health benefits.
What are the benefits?
- Increased muscle endurance (running longer before fatigue)
- Increased aerobic capacity (your bodies ability to distribute oxygen around your body)
- Reduced risk of developing cardiovascular diseases (conditions of the heart and blood vessels)
- Managing or improving current cardiovascular health conditions (such as high blood pressure or other heart conditions)
- Increased metabolism and fat loss
- Increased life expectancy
- Better mental health, better sleep quality and LIVING YOUNG!
In addition to these, a recent RCT study in 2017 also showed benefits to people who experience work-related fatigue. After 6 weeks of exercise intervention the individuals improved their energy levels and started seeing improvements in work ability, sleep quality and cognitive functioning.
How to start?
The most important factor when trying to increase your stamina is CONSISTENCY in training even on days where you are feeling low on energy. Essentially if it’s too easy, it’s not going to help you improve, but you need to know where to start and make a lifestyle change.
Start by introducing a run into your weekly routine and try to go every second day with the idea of building up to a daily consistency in the weeks ahead. If you are already at this stage, then let’s focus on the following.
During sub-maximal exercises such as running; ventilation increases linearly with oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production. There are 2 separate deflection points of this linear increase associated with the metabolic changes within the body as exercise intensity increases. The first represents the level of blood lactate (a by-product of energy production in the body) accumulating faster than it can be cleared. This point is where a person first starts to breath more in order to exhale the excess carbon dioxide in the body. The second is the point at which the blood lactate accumulates with a higher intensity that can no longer be resolved with an increase in breaths (and hyperventilation occurs).
What does this mean?
Essentially it is between these points of exercise intensity that you will find the area which provides the most effective aerobic adaptations which leads to better fitness and stamina.
It is obviously hard to know these exact points without conducting a proper exercise and gas analysis test but this threshold lies between the average person’s 50%-75% VO2max. This is roughly between 60% – 85% of your max heart rate (HR).
You might be thinking… “I can keep a 60% max HR consistency for a while but how am is supposed to keep up a 85% max heart rate for more than a few minutes of a 30 minute run?”. The answer is you don’t.
You should not only be training with long distance runs to increase your stamina but also other distances. You should be training at different intensities where your breathing ability is challenged in different ways, eg. Repeated sprinting for short distances at 80-85% max HR. This will cause your body to adapt in getting more efficient in transporting oxygen and pumping blood around your body which become crucial to increasing your stamina.
“Success in running means leaving your comfort zone and learning to love your discomfort zone”.
- Technique is key! You want your technique to be as efficient for conserving energy as possible.
- Learn to breathe correctly and consistently – “in through nose and out through mouth” and trying your best to stay in rhythm while running and during recovery after higher intensities.
- Control your diet and lifestyle – the things you put into your body have a direct effect on your stamina. Getting to your ideal weight means that your body is not doing more than it needs by carrying excess weight.
- Hydration and Sleep; make sure you are consuming enough water especially before and after exercise for good performance and recovery. You also need to be aiming to get 8 or more hours of sleep to allow for optimum bodily functions and recovery.
- Develop your mental voice and determination – talk to yourself with positive talk that encourages you to keep going when your body is telling you to stop. It’s when discomfort strikes that one realises a strong mind is the most powerful weapon of all.
Book an appointment
If you’re ready to start (or increase) your training, then for peace of mind we would suggest you have an assessment with one of our team to ensure that you do it in a safe way. You can contact us on 02 8607 4000 or request a call by completing this form.
This blog was written by Savio Gracias Flor – Exercise Physiologist at Precision Physio St Marys If you would like more information, or to work specifically with Savio, you can contact him through the Precision Physio St Marys clinic: 02 9623 2220 or book in online.
RCT 2017 study reference:
de Vries, J. D., Van Hooff, M. L., Geurts, S. A., & Kompier, M. A. (2017). Exercise to reduce work-related fatigue among employees: a randomized controlled trial.