What Is Endurance Running?

Have you ever wondered, “What is endurance running?” Endurance running also referred to as long-distance running, is all about increasing running distance.

There are so many types of running, so what is endurance running? Endurance running is often referred to as long-distance running because the focus of the sport is on running for long distances. Typically, this is done in two ways; runners can work towards a goal of a specific amount of distance, or they can simply keep trying to add to the length of their run.

To someone who doesn’t like running, endurance running sounds like one the worst ways to spend a workout. When I started running, I just wanted to get my run out of the way; I focused on increasing my speed, thinking that the faster I ran, the less amount of time I would have to spend doing it. I have several friends, however, who love endurance running; for them, it’s all about exploring new areas or just having some time to themselves.

Endurance Running With A Goal

What is endurance running?
There are a lot of races that have gone far beyond the marathon

When most people hear about endurance runners, they tend to picture marathon runners. These 26.2-mile races were long held as the ultimate goal of endurance running. It would typically take years for a runner to train to be in a marathon, and for many years being able to run in a race such as the Boston Marathon was seen as achieving one of the ultimate goals of the sport.

Today, however, there are a lot of races that have gone far beyond the marathon. Endurance runners who are looking to achieve even more look for races that combine several long-distance races over several days, or they participate in ultra-marathons that are twice or quadruple the distance of a standard marathon.

These races can take days to complete, and training for them can last for decades. These athletes look to run as far as possible, and for many of them, the competition aspect is really more about improving their own run time rather than comparing their times to other people. You might also be interested in learning about cross-country running.

Endurance Running For Fun

Endurance running for fun
A significant portion of the population has at least tried endurance running

Because running can be such a solitary sport, there are plenty of endurance runners who choose not to enter any races at all. Of course, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence of people just running to see how far they can go, but there are very few actual statistics on the hobby. People will claim to run as part of their fitness routine, but it’s next to impossible to verify how often or how long they go.

Nonetheless, it’s fairly safe to assume that a significant portion of the population has at least tried endurance running. Keep in mind that because there are no “rules” around the sport, it is hard to define how long a person has to go in order to be considered an endurance runner. There are some people who are firm in the opinion that anything short of a half marathon cannot be considered distance running, while other people think that any running beyond half a mile is considered endurance.

Benefits Of Endurance Running

Benefits of endurance running
Consult your doctor before taking up endurance running

It has long been shown that intense cardiovascular exercise has a wide range of health effects, but there are a lot of questions about whether or not endurance running is better or worse than other types of running. It seems as if endurance runners as a group have some of the best health statistics of any type of athlete, but there are also a few limited studies showing that long-distance endurance running can be too stressful on the cardiovascular system.  

Most likely, this means that runners who want to try or who already participate in regular endurance running need to be aware of their health and take steps to keep themselves safe. Consult your doctor before taking up endurance running. If you liked this post, check out our explainer on cadence in running.