Endurance training can make you happier, healthier, and more productive, even if you stop way short of running a marathon. Try these tips for building up your stamina safely and effectively.

Benefits of Endurance Training

1. Boost your energy. If you feel too tired to exercise, remember this. Working out will reduce fatigue, especially when you’re doing activities that enhance your aerobic capacity.

2. Speed up your metabolism. Endurance training increases your metabolic rate even when you’re at rest. That means you can eat more calories without gaining weight, as long you don’t go overboard.

3. Make new friends. You’re bound to meet someone interesting when you become a regular at your community pool or running track. Greet your neighbors and strike up a conversation. You may connect with a potential training partner.

4. Cultivate peace of mind. There’s a scientific basis for the runner’s high. Due to endorphins and other chemicals, long-distance rhythmic movements tend to produce euphoria.

Nutrition Tips for Endurance Training

1. Read labels. Sports nutrition is big business, so you have a lot of energy products to choose from. Check the ingredients and avoid bars and drinks that are loaded with sugar.

2. Count calories. Endurance exercise can consume more than 600 calories an hour, but you don’t have to eat that much. Your body can’t absorb food that quickly so it makes up the deficit by burning stored fat. You may want to consume some carbohydrates if your sessions last 2 hours, and add in protein if you train for 3 hours or more.

3. Fuel up. Stop eating at least 3 hours before a race or other intense activities so your blood sugar can stabilize. Complex carbohydrates are ideal for pre-race eating. It’s okay to be a little hungry before competing.

4. Replenish your resources. Once your race or workout has ended, it’s time to recover and replace the nutrients you’ve used up. Try to eat a balanced meal with protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

Safety Tips for Endurance Training

1. Stay hydrated. Drinking water is essential before, during, and after exercise. One 20 ounce bottle an hour is a good rule of thumb during tough training.

2. Practice moderation. Develop a workout plan with a gradual and balanced approach. Increase your time and distance slowly. Engage in a variety of activities, including strength training and stretching. Take days off to rest.

3. Turn down the heat. More athletes experience heat stroke than heart attacks. Wear protective gear and find an indoor track if it’s too hot outside.

4. See your doctor. Talk with your physician if you have any chronic aches or heart palpitations. Seek help immediately if you experience chest pain or suddenly feel short of breath.

Other Tips for Endurance Training

1. Consider supplements. While it’s good to rely on whole foods for most of your diet, supplements may also help when you’re placing extra demands on your body. Some studies support the benefits of taking whey protein, certain vitamins, and even caffeine in moderate amounts.

2. Warm up and cool down. Gentler movements before and after training may be especially important for endurance athletes. Cool downs can reduce the risk of losing consciousness caused by stopping abruptly.

3. Listen to your body. Your individual condition and goals determine the regimen that will work best for you. Experiment until you find a winning formula that keeps you safe and fit.

For a longer, healthier, and more active life, try endurance training. Whether you’re gearing up for a Spartan run or just riding your bike on weekends, endurance exercises strengthen your body and mind.