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Beginner and Advanced Training Plans to Improve Endurance Running

By Dan Vogel, YWCA Accounting and Systems Associate
August 28, 2017
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Are you training for your first 5k, 10k, half marathon or marathon?

Or are you trying to increase the length of your morning walk or run with your dog?

Adding some variety to your weekly mileage plan could be the ticket to a faster, fitter you. Below are some tips to help you increase the quality of your new or longtime active lifestyle by specifically concentrating on endurance and stamina.

In It for the Long Run

Long, slow, steady runs and cardio workouts increase your lung capacity and metabolism, improving overall body function. It’s critical to make sure your slower, long runs are at a conversational pace – for example, being able to talk with your friend about the latest Game of Thrones episode while not running out of breath. By adding on just a few minutes to these longer walks or runs each week, you will gradually begin to build up your long run endurance.

Interval Training

Fast! Slow. Fast! Slow.

This is what should come to mind when incorporating interval training. The key here to increasing your overall endurance and stamina is to push your body to its physical limits without overexertion and utilizing enough rest to allow for sufficient recovery.

Using a heart rate monitor is the ideal way to learn what your body is capable of during interval workouts. Your goal is to keep your heart rate between 160 -180 beats per minute (bpm). Staying below 180 bpm ensures your lungs are maximizing oxygen intake. Keeping your heart rate above 160 bpm between intervals provides your workout’s maximum benefits.


There’s nothing worse than trying to step out the door and your legs feel like 500-pound anchors. One key thing to keep in mind when adding more volume to your training is that you’ll be tired – a lot more tired. It takes time for your body to adjust to more mileage and intensity. So, don’t feel bad if you need an extra day off. Just think of it as taking a little extra time to dominate the next day’s plan.

Sample Weekly Running Plans

Beginning Runner Plan

The key to this schedule is the variety of miles. Of course, the daily mileage can be adjusted as your endurance and stamina improve.

  • Monday: Walk-Jog-Walk. Each segment can be as long or as short as you feel comfortable. This day is used as a warmup for the rest of the week.
  • Tuesday: 2 sessions of half-mile walk and half-mile jog.
  • Wednesday: Walk-Jog-Walk at your leisure.
  • Thursday: 2 sessions of half-mile walk and half-mile jog.
  • Friday: Cross-training day (i.e. biking, elliptical, walk)
  • Saturday or Sunday: 3 to 4 sessions of half-mile walk and half-mile jog. Rest on the other day.

Advanced Runner Plan

Use this schedule to increase your endurance and stamina over the timeline of a month or two. The key to this schedule is incorporating a variety of pacing throughout each week. Of course, the mileage totals can be adjusted as your fitness improves.

  • Monday:
    • 1 mile warmup.
    • 3-5 x 1200m repeats at 170-180 bpm with 60 second rest.
    • 2 mile cool down.
  • Tuesday:
    • 5 to 7 mile run at easy, conversational pace not to exceed 160 bpm.
    • 30 to 60 minutes of core strengthening exercises (i.e. sit-ups, push-ups, planks, running arms).
  • Wednesday:
    • 1 mile warmup.
    • 16 x 200m or 8 x 400m hill repeats with jog or walk rest back to bottom of hill.
    • 2 mile cool down.
  • Thursday:
    • 8 to 10 mile run at easy, conversational pace not to exceed 160 bpm.
    • 30 to 60 minutes of core strengthening exercises.
  • Friday:
    • 2 to 5 mile run at easy, conversational pace not to exceed 160 bpm.
  • Saturday or Sunday:
    • 7 to 12 mile run at easy conversational pace not to exceed 160 bpm.
    • The other day is used as a rest or cross-training day (i.e. biking, elliptical, walk) to recover from the previous week’s workouts.

Strength Training

In addition to running, you can tackle some light weight training a couple times per week. Having a strong core allows you to recover from your runs and walks quicker. Check out our new Fitness Bingo Challenge to find some classes that will help you meet and exceed your strength training goals.

Grab a Friend

One of the best motivators in improving your endurance and stamina is by hearing words of encouragement. They are invaluable when you want to quit and are great fuel for helping your friends meet their fitness goals. Read 5 Reasons Working Out With Friends Helps You Both to learn more!

Personal Bests Here You Come!

With a healthy dose of easy runs, intervals, longer workouts and strength training, you’ll be well on your way to pushing yourself faster and farther than you ever have before. You quite possibly could see new personal bests in the weeks and months to come, too! Looking for a more formal training plan? Connect with our personal trainers for one-on-one attention or try out our small group training classes for more of a team atmosphere!

Learn about YWCA’s Endurance Sports Coaching