Why Are Some People Able to Run Longer Than Others?

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Running is a high-impact sport that requires strength and stamina. Not everyone can tolerate the intensity and repetitive motion of long-distance running. It takes a sound body, determination and consistent training to be able to run well. How far you run can be affected by how you are built, your age, your history with athletics and your diet. People who enjoy the sport will often have more success running longer distances, but there are ways to increase your running distance, even if running isn't your favorite activity.

Genetics

  • The right combination of genes facilitates stamina training. Some people are naturally suited to run longer distances. Those who have the right proportion of fast- to slow-twitch muscle fiber tissue more easily form small blood vessels that carry oxygen to the muscles during activity, and this makes long-distance running easier. Your body's natural structure also affects the way you express strength and can influence how likely you are to get injured. Many elite distance runners have long legs but a short waist, and this combination leads to more efficient running.

Aerobic Capacity

  • Optimal running and fitness requires maximum oxygen uptake, a high lactate threshold and efficiency in the body's ability to use oxygen during exercise. These three factors can improve with training, no matter what your gene composition. Both how much oxygen your body can take in and get to your muscles and the point during exercise at which lactic acid accumulates in your bloodstream are best increased by engaging in high-intensity interval training about two times a week. Running economy can be improved by doing strength-training exercises such as lifting weights or plyometrics two or three times a week. The fitter you are, the easier it will be to run longer distances.

Fuel

  • How you fuel your body affects how long you can run. Glycogen that is stored in the body and used during exercise is depleted after 60 to 90 minutes of activity. Once glycogen is used up, the body breaks down fat for energy. In order to continue exercising and not feel fatigued, you have to supply your body with the simple carbohydrate glucose, which will provide energy to all the cells in your body, including those in your brain. This is important, because your brain needs to function well enough to send signals to your muscles to keep firing when you exercise. If you don't consume enough carbohydrates while running long distances, you might end up feeling weak and spaced out, a condition called bonking.

Training

  • Running long distances is not only physically demanding, but mentally challenging as well. It helps to have a natural desire to run and enjoy the sport in order to continue engaging in the activity. Build up your mileage slowly, increasing the volume of your training by about 10 percent each week. Find a training schedule that works for you and run at a time during the day that feels good. Setting and reaching goals in athletics can motivate you to to continue training. Consider running with a group or hiring a coach to keep you motivated. A change of scenery and a good conversation will help pass the time on those long runs.

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