If you’re a runner, you’re probably continually looking for ways to improve your running performance and appreciation of the sport – I know I am. One of the most effective ways to do this is by running longer distances.
It wasn’t until I ran my first marathon and discovered the secrets of how to run longer, that I got truly immersed in the art of running.
I began seeking ways to improve my running form to increase efficiency and reduce fatigue over long distances like ultramarathons, become a faster runner, and just generally ensure I continued to love the ritual of running without ever burning out and ditching the sport for something else.
Let’s not forget that without motivation, and enjoyment in what we are doing, there’s no potential for growth or consistency – this is something I learned long ago when I first started to run.
Not only does running longer distances help you to build endurance and stamina, but it can also have a positive impact on your overall health and well-being, FACT.
As an experienced runner who has raced 5k’s up to ultramarathon distances across some of the most challenging mountain ranges around the world, I highly recommend following a training plan if you’re looking to run longer distances.
This plan should include a gradual increase in distance and pace, as well as proper nutrition, hydration, rest, and recovery (including, where appropriate, recovery runs) to ensure you don’t overtrain, burn out, lose motivation, or heaven forbid, give up.
➡ View all our training plans featuring 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon, and ultra-marathon distances, each with varying time frames to fit your experience level and time remaining before your race day.
Running longer distances offers a wide range of benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, increased calorie burn, and a boost in mental toughness. When you run longer distances, you challenge your body to push past its limits, and this can lead to significant improvements in your fitness level.
However, running longer distances also comes with its own set of challenges. Fatigue, dehydration, and injury are all potential risks associated with running longer distances, which is why having a plan in place for training is so important.
Whether you just want to be able to run a 5k without stopping, or you’re looking to run your first half marathon, marathon, or ultramarathon – we have the answers to help you achieve your goals in this post.
By gradually building up your endurance and stamina over time, you’ll be better equipped to handle the physical demands of running longer distances, without overuse injuries.
Additionally, by fueling your body with the proper nutrition and hydration, you’ll be able to perform at your best and prevent fatigue and injury.
Running stamina can be an incredibly rewarding superpower to possess, both physically and mentally. However, it’s important to follow a well-structured plan if you’re training for a race and to take proper precautions to avoid injury and fatigue through sensible training, proper running form, and an optimal cadence (efficient shorter steps to run longer).
With the right mindset, a well-structured training plan, and support, anyone can learn how to go the distance and achieve their running goals (we are all Born To Run after all!)- and it just so happens, Trail & Kale offers all three of these key ingredients.
Without further ado then, here are my 7 tips to help you run for longer without stopping or getting tired.
1. Build your endurance and stamina to run longer without stopping | Follow a training plan
Building endurance and stamina gradually over time is crucial for runners who want to run longer distances without getting overly fatigued – don’t come under the false belief, however, that you can just run endlessly without getting tired.
Challenging things are always going to be, well… challenging! But consistent training and knowing what healthy foods to eat before and during a run, will certainly allow you to run long without getting completely exhausted or needing to feel tired.
When you increase your mileage or intensity too quickly, your body may not be able to adapt to the demands of the workout, which can lead to injury, fatigue, and burnout. My Garmin running watch affectionately calls this ‘Overreaching’, and It will also show my ‘training readiness’ and my ‘body battery’ as having a status of low. This is how I know when to ease off my training.
To build running endurance and stamina effectively, it’s important to start with a solid foundation of shorter, easier runs and gradually increase the distance and intensity over time.
With that in mind, if you’re a beginner runner be sure to read our guide on how to start running the smart way, or our couch to 5k training plan, both of those guides will help you build that solid running foundation safely and quickly. Those guides also go over helpful beginner techniques like incorporating a run-walk method, interval training, or incorporating hill training.
If you’re more experienced and used to running, we also have lots of other free downloadable training plans available including our popular 10k, half marathon, marathon, and ultramarathon distance.
Think of us as your new favorite online running coach, we are also always available to answer any questions you may have so please ask anything in the comments of any of our running advice articles.
Here’s a brief explanation of those techniques, to pique your interest to want to go and read our more detailed articles on each of them (which also provide short programs to help you incorporate them into your weekly runs.
A run-walk method involves alternating periods of running and walking during a workout. This method is particularly helpful for beginners or those returning to running after a break. As you become more comfortable with the running portion of the workout, you can gradually increase the running intervals and decrease the walking intervals. Before you know it, you’ll be able to run without stopping.
Interval training involves alternating periods of high-intensity running with periods of lower-intensity recovery. This method helps to improve endurance and increase speed, making it a great option for runners who want to push themselves to run longer distances more efficiently. This method as well as a good old-fashioned tempo run, are some of the best ways to increase your VO2 Max, and aerobic capacity, which are great indicators of your overall fitness,
Finally, incorporating hill training can help to build strength and endurance, as running uphill requires more effort than running on a flat surface. Gradually increasing the incline and duration of hill workouts can help to build endurance and stamina, making it easier to run longer distances.
2. How to run longer with proper nutrition and hydration (before and during a run)
Proper nutrition and hydration are essential for runners who want to run longer distances and prevent fatigue during runs. When you exercise, your body uses up its stores of energy, and proper fueling can help to replenish those stores and hence keep you going. It makes sense, I mean what happens when your Ferrari runs out of fuel? Yes, it stops moving. No, I don’t have a Ferrari, that was a joke. I do own a Tesla, however, which I love! I digress…
Before a long run, it’s important to fuel your body with complex carbohydrates, such as oatmeal, and to avoid high-fat or high-protein meals, which can slow down digestion and cause discomfort. I recommend eating a banana 30-45 mins before your run so that its slow-release energy does its magic by the time you start running.
In this in-depth guide on what to eat before a run, you’ll get some real “a ha!” moments on where you may have been going wrong with your pre-run nutrition before now.
During long runs, you should aim to consume carbohydrates every 30-45 minutes, in the form of running gels, energy chews, or powder sports drinks like Maurten or Tailwind, for example. This will help to maintain your energy levels and ensure you don’t stop running.
Hydration is also crucial for runners, as dehydration can lead to a decrease in performance and increase the risk of injury, or even worse, passing out mid run – I’ve seen it happen in many a race!
It’s important to drink water before, during, and after long runs, and to also consider electrolyte replacement, particularly if you’re running in hot or humid conditions if you want to help prevent muscle cramping.
Electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, are important for maintaining fluid balance in the body, and can be replenished through sports drinks or electrolyte tablets – some even opt for a quick shot of pickle juice post-run, if you can believe it!.
After a long run, it’s important to refuel your body with carbohydrates and protein, such as a smoothie or protein shake. This will help to repair muscle damage and replenish energy stores, reducing the risk of fatigue and injury.
3. Rest and recovery are key if you want to run longer without getting tired
Ensuring you get enough rest and recovery is essential for runners who want to run for longer without getting fatigued. During exercise, your body undergoes stress and strain, and rest days provide an opportunity for your body to recover and your muscles to repair properly.
During rest and sleep is when this happens, which is why you need to make sure you’re getting enough good quality sleep if you want to improve your running performance.
Incorporating rest days into your running routine (something we include in all our race training plans) can help to prevent injury and burnout, and also improve performance by allowing your body to recover and build strength. Rest days can include complete rest, low-intensity easy recovery runs at a conversational pace, or cross-training, including less intense activities such as yoga or hiking/walking.
After a long run, it’s important to properly recover by stretching, muscle rolling, and refueling your body with carbohydrates and protein. This will help to reduce muscle soreness and inflammation and replenish those much-needed energy stores.
Other recovery techniques that can be beneficial for runners include:
- massage – Either with a sports masseuse, percussion massage gun, muscle roller stick, foam roller, or a muscle stimulator/TENS machine.
- ice baths – Taking a cold plunge (sometimes referred to as a cold water immersion) is a pretty simple concept, and has been done by many people all over the world for athletic recovery as well as general health and wellness benefits.
- compression garments – Such as compression tights or socks for example help increase the speed of recovery by way of increased blood lactate removal and reduced swelling.
These 3 methods can help to reduce inflammation and improve circulation, aiding in the recovery process. If however, you notice that you start getting nipple chaffing issues, a common issue among runners who increase their mileage, read our guide to preventing nipple chaffing next.
In addition to rest and recovery, it’s important to listen to your body and adjust your training plan as needed. If you’re feeling fatigued or experiencing pain, it’s important to take a break and allow your body to recover. Always trust your instincts on this as no one knows your body better than you. Never run through pain, and take a rest if you feel depleted.
4. Follow these strategies for motivation and mental toughness | Tips from a runner who loves strategy
The mental aspects of running longer distances are just as important as the physical aspects – some may even tell you more so, especially when you start to enter the realm of ultrarunning like taking on a 100 mile race for example. Running longer distances requires mental toughness, motivation, and most importantly, a positive mindset – plus appropriate training of course.
One of the biggest mental challenges people face when running longer distances is trying to stay motivated. Long runs can be physically and mentally exhausting, and it can be difficult to stay motivated when you’re pushing yourself past your limits.
Developing mental strategies, such as goal visualization, taking your mind off the challenge at hand with things like music and meditative states, and positive self-talk, can help runners to stay motivated and build mental toughness.
Visualization involves picturing yourself succeeding in your running goals, whether it’s finishing a long race or hitting a new personal record. This can help to build confidence and keep you motivated during tough runs – more on this below.
Positive self-talk involves using positive affirmations to counteract negative thoughts and doubts. By focusing on positive thoughts and beliefs, runners are able to build mental resilience and stay motivated during long runs. “I CAN DO HARD THINGS”, and “I’VE DONE ______ BEFORE, I CAN DO THIS TOO!” are two such mantras you can try telling yourself during a longer run.
Other mental strategies that can be beneficial for runners include:
- setting goals.
- breaking runs down into smaller, manageable segments.
- focusing on your breathing.
- ensuring you keep your heart rate in the correct zones – heart rate training is something we encourage when following our training plans.
- regularly checking your running form while you run.
5. Physical and mental strategies to help combat fatigue during long runs
Fatigue is a common challenge for runners during long runs, but there are several strategies that can be used to to help mitigate the effects.
One effective strategy for combating fatigue is pacing. By starting out slowly and gradually increasing your speed, you can conserve energy and prevent fatigue later in the run. Pacing myself properly, and learning to not run too fast too soon was one of the key factors in my learning experience to be able to run a goal distance without stopping.
You don’t need to run fast all the time – in fact, the slower recovery runs and rest days are where much benefit comes from.
Focusing on maintaining a steady pace throughout your run can also help to prevent burnout and maintain energy levels because if you think about it, the more efficiently you run, the less energy you’re burning. When you run faster at a higher intensity, you burn through energy more quickly than running at a slower, steady pace.
Makes sense right? So, remember that the next time you want to increase your running distance without taking a break.
Another strategy is to focus on your form as mentioned briefly earlier in this post. Running with good form can help to conserve energy and reduce the impact on your joints, which can lead to less fatigue during the run.
Some tips for good running form include keeping your shoulders relaxed, landing on the midfoot, and maintaining a slight forward lean. Read this post next to learn more about how to master your running form.
Taking breaks can also be an effective strategy for combating fatigue during long runs – I know your goal right now may be to run a goal distance without stopping but think about taking that break if you need it – even races have aid stations or water stations designed to give you time to rest and refuel with water or energy gels.
A break can include stopping to stretch, taking a short walk break, or even sitting down for a few minutes to rest.
Other strategies for not getting exhausted during long runs include proper hydration and nutrition (talked about above), wearing comfortable and supportive running shoes, and using mental strategies such as visualization and positive self-talk.
Running shoes designed with supportive cushioning in the midsole, carbon fiber plates, and rocker silhouettes allow for greater efficiency and comfort over longer distances.
The perfect example of this right now is the HOKA Rocket X 2 which combines all three of those design features, making it one of the fastest running shoes I have reviewed to date.
HOKA running shoes are outperforming most other running shoes in my reviews right now when it comes to comfort and speed over long distances.
To learn more about our most highly rated running shoes, read our running and trail running shoe buyer’s guides next:
- Best Running Shoes Buyer’s Guide
- Best Trail Running Shoes Buyer’s Guide
- BONUS: Best ‘On’ Running Shoes & Best HOKA Running Shoes
6. Don’t run without setting goals and visualizing success
Goal setting and visualization of success are important tools that are often overlooked by runners who want to run further. Setting goals helps to provide focus and motivation, while visualization can help to build confidence and improve your performance.
When setting goals for running longer distances, I recommend you try the SMART goal-setting framework.
SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. All this means is that to successfully complete your goals, they should be clear, measurable, realistic, relevant to your running goals, and have a deadline for completion – I use this in all walks of life.
Visualization involves mentally rehearsing a successful performance. By visualizing yourself successfully completing a long run, you can build confidence and reduce anxiety, making it easier to achieve your goals. Visualization techniques can include creating a mental image of yourself running successfully, focusing on positive thoughts and emotions, and using imagery to improve performance.
To set effective goals and visualize success, try to identify your specific running goals and create a plan for achieving them. This can include setting short-term and long-term goals, tracking your progress, and making adjustments as needed.
My advice here would be to download one of our free training plans (there are lots of distances to choose from), and get a good running watch to track your runs and health statistics over time (including when you’re not running, and even when you’re sleeping – I absolutely love my Garmin Fenix for this and never take it off!), and join our Strava running club to get to find new running friends and get motivated by seeing where and how people run all over the world.
In addition to setting goals and visualizing success, it’s important to stay motivated and focused on your running goals. This can include surrounding yourself with supportive people, creating a routine or schedule for running and using mental strategies such as positive self-talk and mindfulness.
7. Join a community that offers support
Community and support are essential for runners who want to build motivation and find their tribe.
Running can sometimes be a challenging and isolating sport, and having a community of like-minded individuals can provide the encouragement and support needed to stay motivated and push past mental barriers. That’s why both physical and virtual running clubs are so popular and found literally all around the world.
Joining a running group is a great way to find support and build community. Running groups provide a sense of camaraderie and accountability, and can offer opportunities for socializing and networking with other runners too.
Other ways to find support and build community include attending running events and races, volunteering at running events, and reaching out to friends and family members who are also runners.
Most of our vacations involve running a running event, whether it’s racing UTMB in Chamonix, France, circumnavigating volcanos in Washington State, USA, team relays in Oregon, or Marathon races around the world – we’ve done it all, and have loved every experience and person we have met along the way.
If you’re looking to join the Trail & Kale community, we have a lively Strava running club that you should join. On there you will be able to find new running friends and get motivated by seeing what all our other community members get up to on their runs.
We also have a Facebook group that you should join, ask us anything there and get some conversations going!
Final thoughts for you to take away, and smash your running goals
By incorporating these strategies into your training, you can improve your performance, prevent injury and burnout, and build mental resilience to help you run longer without getting tired and without stopping if that’s your goal.
Try putting these tips into practice and share your progress with us in the comments section below – thanks for reading and see you next time!