Endurance in Running: Why Endurance Runs are so Important

Basic endurance training is the foundation of good endurance training. Without this form of training, there is no basis on which to build fitness for competition. Endurance training, as a basic form of training, creates the best conditions for sustainable performance.

What is an endurance run?

Endurance runs refer to running at a constant intensity. This form of training promotes the ability to maintain endurance performance over a longer period of time and is the basis of endurance for runners, both beginners and advanced runners. And even though the intensity during an easy endurance run may seem low, these are very important for performance development.

The key points of endurance in running

What types of endurance runs are there?

The term “endurance run” only indicates the type of training, not the intensity. Endurance runs can be done at different speeds and are named differently depending on the literature or author. In the running.COACH training plan, a slow endurance run is referred to as Steady run 1 (comparable to training zone 2) and is the core of the training program. At this pace, you can easily run for a long period of time and talk to your running partner at the same time. For slightly faster endurance runs, we use the term Steady run 2 (comparable to lower Z3).

There is also another form of low-intensity endurance running that is crucial for physical regeneration, known as a recovery run. This serves as active recovery and has no direct training effect, but it better prepares you for your next workout and therefore also helps to improve your performance.

The science behind the endurance run

By incorporating a basic endurance run into your training, you will experience cardiovascular and musculoskeletal effects: Your body adapts to the constant load and your performance and recovery ability improves, creating optimal conditions for completing a high volume of training.

On a physiological level, basic training leads to the following adaptations:

  • Economization of cardiovascular functions
  • Improvement of the aerobic metabolism
  • Improvement of lipid metabolism
  • Strengthening of the immune system
  • Neural adaptation
  • Formation of new mitochondria (cellular power plants)
  • Improvement of capillarization

The development and improvement of capillary function at muscle level is a particularly important result of relaxed endurance running. Small blood vessels form here, which increase the exchange surface between oxygen and muscles. As a result, the muscles are better supplied with blood and are therefore more efficient.

In summary, endurance running leads to a general improvement in the running movement. This means that you can achieve more with the same effort, at all intensity levels. For these reasons, easy steady run is the number one training method for many endurance athletes.

The practice of the running.COACH ambassadors

The running.COACH ambassadors Viktor Röthlin and Frank Shorter have often trained using the 80-20 method and therefore recommend it. According to this method, 80% of the volume should be completed with easy endurance runs and a maximum of 20% in the intensive zone. Numerous studies and research in various endurance sports support this statement.

This breakdown applies to both top athletes and beginners. So it doesn’t matter whether you do 3 or 13 training sessions per week, the important thing is that the ratio is approximately 3:1 (in terms of the number of training sessions – 80/20 refers to the training duration). Especially at the beginning of running, some people tend to run too fast and often end up in a mid-range instead of training in all zones.

Also remember that variety is extremely important. In terms of endurance running, this means that the endurance effort needs to be varied. So don’t always run the same route, at the same speed or on the same surface. Variety promotes motivation on the one hand and is also essential so that the body always has a new stimulus, the basis for the body’s adaptation and therefore your progress.

Advantages of basic endurance training

  • Benefit from various physiological adaptations that improve your performance.
  • Reduced risk of injury.
  • No excessive warm-up is necessary for easy endurance running, you can just start running (this does not apply to threshold or tempo runs).
  • At a constant intensity, you get used to the speed and achieve a good running rhythm.
  • You run comfortably at a pace that allows you to chat with friends, enjoy the surrounding environment and still be fresh after the run.
  • The likelihood of sore muscles in the following days is relatively low.

Planning endurance runs

With endurance running, as with training in general, a planned approach is important. This applies in particular to intensity. You should consciously perform low-intensity endurance runs. This is the only way to build a solid foundation on which intensive training and competition performances can be based. This is particularly important for beginners. A training plan provides security, protects against overtraining and makes training varied. Monitoring your heart rate or speed using a GPS watch also helps to maintain the desired intensity.


  • Endurance runs form the basis for controlling training goals and are part of every training plan.
  • It is recommended to follow the 80:20 ratio (training time). For every three endurance runs, interval training (intensive) should be planned.
  • Find the courage to run slowly often. “Be slower on the easy days and faster on the intense ones!”
  • Variety is a must, both in terms of performance and psychological motivation.
  • Maintaining regularity is crucial. running.COACH helps you with precise guidelines.


Create a personalized and dynamic training plan with running.COACH that prepares you for your running goals based on your current fitness level. Try running.COACH for free for two weeks after your first access!

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