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Help a desk potato build endurance

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I think I've asked this before, though probably in my long-buried 6-week challenge threads from last year. What's the best way to build up endurance for jogging and future running?


This happens intermittently: I say I'll start walking to begin training, but life happens and I end up not walking again for a month or more. Then I have to start all over again. More than once I thought, "well, don't just stroll leisurely, speed walk or try to jog for 30 seconds." And that gave me shin splints and/or a headache. So I suppose I just need to walk more? I feel like it's not enough, because I always hear that you need to push yourself, that the way to burn fat is with short, intense intervals.


I think it's intense summer sun that contributes to headaches, so I don't have to worry about that for awhile. But I always dress appropriately and take a bottle of water, sometimes a spare in the car for afterwards. I wish I could get a gym membership for just summer. Also, getting up early to beat the sun is not an option right now, as I work at night and sleep til 11 am-noon. Hoping to change this very soon though......

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The shin splints could be your shoes, could be you need to move more, could be your stride is causing it, could be weak ankle\calf muscles, could be a lot of things. I was reading something about shin splints the other day and the long and short is for it affecting most active people at some point in training we know very little about what causes shin splints and how to cure them. Foam rolling, ice, compression socks, all are options that I've used at one point in time. Foam rolling is probably the best post work out recovery for me.


As for the base endurance to be a runner...well...run. If you want to be a lifter you have to lift, you want to hunt crocodiles you need to go hunting. Couch to 5k is a popular starting program but its really just preset intervals and progression that the masses can follow in an easy to use program. The only way to get better is to push beyond what you currently do. You should aim to go longer OR faster then you did last time. I wouldn't recommend going longer and faster at the same time until you've got some mileage under your belt. If C25K isn't for you Hal Higdon, Jeff Galloway, and every other big running coach has some free generic plans on their website you can take a look at, most of them are geared towards getting ready for a race but no reason you couldn't adapt it to what you need. 


You could get some endurance benefit from things like biking, rowing, swimming, and other sports but to be a running you really do have to run so your joints develop the required strength as well. 

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Every endurance program must include two types of workouts:  1. intervals, 2. duratino steady state cardio (preferrable HR zone 2).


Shin splints are probably your shoes and/or your running technique.  Consider replacing the shoes first.  If you are going to put on big miles eventually, spend good money on the shoes.


Headaches may have to do with your heart rate or your lack of hydration.  Start with hydration.  If that doesn't work, consider getting a heart rate monitor to see what your HR is doing during your work outs. 


If you were to run three days a week, I would program a day of longer intervals (4 minutes run by 1 minute walk), a day of long steady state running (think 30 minutes to start and build from there), and a day of harder intervals (Tabata or 30 seconds sprinting by 30 seconds walking, x5 to 10 reps for 2 sets).


If you take a look at programs like couch to 5k, they are built around intervals.  That run/walk split that eventually builds into longer runs.  While that is great for a short one-off program, if you are looking at longer term endurance work, you will want to continue to mix up intervals and steady state for the duration of the time you put into running.

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One of the most important things is to make exercise a habit. Consistently "just walking" will do more for you than running for 3 weeks followed by nothing for months. It is good to push yourself, but its not as important as getting off the couch to do something!

"None of us can choose to be perfect, but all of us can choose to be better." - Lou Schuler, New Rules of Lifting for Women

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I'm a desk potato as well. Sit for 8 hours, then go home and sit for another  5-6 hours until bed time? Yeah no more! 


I started out walking my dog. We got a puppy last summer, so I sort of had to (which was a part of our decision TO get the dog). I had a hard time during the witner, but am getting back into a routine. I haven't been able to run much, becuase it's been so icy with the snow melting and re-freezing... but when i have run, it was so much easier than last summer! I think there are a few things that contribute to that:


1. I've conditioned, through at least 3 weekly walks, to be on my feet for that amount of time. My husband got me a smart watch for Christmas, and now I am watching my steps like no-ones business! Suddenly, it just seems easier to walk some places, than drive! But its been months of - just walking or hiking (in the snow). Switch up where you are walking, as we are getting into spring maybe try a hike, then eventually move into jogging. 


2. Shoes! I used to get Shin splints really bad! Got new shoes (and in combination with working on my calves) helped a lot! I was properly fitted (they made me walk on a treadmill while videotaping me and everything!) (... do people still say videotaping?) The shoes are wonderous! But bloody expensive! I waited for a sale. So keep an eye out when you're ready to go that route. It does make a big difference.


3. Calf exercises. I found once I started working on my calf muscles (calf raises), that my shin splints also went away and made it way easier for walking/running. I've slacked for a couple months on that, so I really do notice the difference. I'm starting to get shin splints again - and thankfully far less sever then they used to be, but I attribute that to the shoes.


Good luck! It's all just being dilligent. You can't expect to go from nothing to track star - it's all consecutive work. Fine a walking buddy (or a few to alternate), make sure you have the right gear, and are dressed appropriately. Best advice I have is find a way to make it fun... or at least funner.  

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Why don't you try integrating endurance training into your daily routine? For example, cycling to work. It depends on how far away you live from your workplace and where you're located, but lemme say that as someone who lives in a very crowded city and just a couple of miles from college, my bike can be a blessing.. as well as assisting my training.


If the above idea isn't suitable, or if it's storming outside and you don't fancy walking/running/cycling through a hurricane, you can still build overall endurance with a few body-weight exercises. The burpee, for example, is apparently used by prisoners in solitary confinement to maintain endurance (don't quote me on that!). Skip ropes are great tools that will absolutely help you with running, both for conditioning and endurance. Those two are examples of many other exercises available.


These ideas are really just supplementary; I guess that if you really want to get better at running, the best you can do is run. In any case, best of luck! 

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Thanks for all the replies, guys. I think I answered my own question in the first post, just get out and do it. My schedule is not friendly to new habit-building. Biking to work is not an option, it's 18 miles away in the country. And I'm not biking back home at 12:30 a.m., when I get off.


I bought new shoes last year, they're barely broken in. I guess it's just the trauma of activity on my legs when my body has become accustomed to sitting for hours on end. Also, I've failed C25k miserably in the past, that's part of why I asked how to build up the endurance to do even that simple program.


Anyway, this is all on hold because I've got heart problems!!!11 When I see him this month, I'll ask the cardiologist what the best exercise I can do is.

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