How to Get Endurance for Running

The key to building endurance for running is a combination of training volume, the right technique, and the right kind of shoe. One sure way as to how to get endurance for running is with minimalist running shoes –running shoes without an elevated heel, or heel cushioning and with minimal cushioning [1], the Vibram FiveFingers are a great example.

How to Get Endurance for Running

How to Get Endurance for Running

A new study by Ridge et al. found that the Vibram FiveFingers improved running endurance in traditionally shod runners (i.e. runners in cushioned running shoes).

  • In their study, the runners ran 1-2 miles in the Vibram FiveFingers (the authors did not mention the model) while the rest of the typical mileage in their traditional running shoes was maintained.
  • After 3 weeks, runners were asked to run an additional 1-2 miles each week in the Vibrams and were encouraged to increase their mileage if they felt comfortable in doing so for 7 weeks.
  • Running economy was measured via VO2 Max testing.

Their results showed that 9 out of 10 Vibram runners had improved running economy whereas the control group (runners who wore their preferred traditional running shoes) showed more variable results, suggesting that minimalist running shoes contributes to greater fitness and improves oxygen consumption during running.

The data demonstrated that habitually traditional shod runners can improve endurance by running in minimalist shoes during a portion of their regular runs. Nevertheless, the positive gains in running endurance induced by minimalist footwear revolves around improvements in biomechanics. It is possible that the minimalist shoes enabled the runners to develop a forefoot running technique –a running style that is less labor intensive than heel strike running.

  • The lack of heel protection in a minimalist shoe increases external stimuli to the foot allowing the mind to focus on avoiding initial ground contact on the heel.

Overall, the study’s findings is not the first to suggest that minimalist shoes boost endurance as traditional running shoes add limitations to performance, such as heel striking and the weight of the shoe [2, 3], both of which drain energy.

Here are more examples of minimalist shoes that will radically improve your endurance for running.

More From Run Forefoot:

Why Forefoot Running – Stop getting injured by switching from heel strike to forefoot running.

Barefoot Running – Get rapid biomechanical gains just by running shoeless.

Lower Back Pain – 2 ways heel strike running causes lower back pain.

Overpronation – How to prevent it!

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[1]. Ridge et al. The effect of training in minimalist running shoes on running economy. J Sports Sci Med, 2015; 14, 463-647.

[2]. Divert, C., Mornieux, G., Freychat, P., Baly, L., Mayer, F. and Belli, A. (2008) Barefoot-shod running differences: shoe or mass effect? International Journal of Sports Medicine 29, 512-518.

[3]. Shih, Y., Lin, K.-L. and Shiang, T.-Y. (2013) Is the foot striking pattern more important than barefoot or shod conditions in running? Gait & Posture 38, 490-494.

Bretta Riches

"I believe the forefoot strike is the engine of endurance running..."

BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.
Bretta Riches

P.S. Don't forget to check out the Run Forefoot Facebook Page, it's a terrific place to ask questions about forefoot running, barefoot running and injury. I'm always happy to help!

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