Every runner knows the feeling: you’ve trained hard, pushed your limits, and then, when the finish line is almost in sight, exhaustion hits. That last stretch becomes a mental and physical battle, and you wonder if there’s a way to conquer it. 

Improving endurance on race day involves reassessing your pacing strategy and incorporating targeted training sessions. If you find yourself struggling in the final kilometers despite adequate training, consider adjusting your pace early in the race. Aim to go through the halfway mark at least 10 minutes slower than your current pace for a half marathon.

Additionally, focus on strength training exercises targeting key muscle groups like the glutes and lower abs to enhance stability and reduce fatigue-related issues. Experiment with nutrition and hydration strategies during training to determine what works best for you on race day, and leverage race-day support from running clubs and organizers for seamless fueling options.

In this guide, we delve into strategies for improving endurance on race day, helping you overcome those final challenging kilometers.

Understanding the Endurance Challenge

One common scenario described by many runners is the struggle encountered in the final stages of a race, typically the last 5 kilometers. Often, this challenge stems from going out too hard at the start, leading to fatigue and diminished energy reserves when they’re needed most. To address this issue, it’s essential to reassess pacing strategies and training approaches.

Adjusting Your Pacing Strategy

If you find yourself fading in the final stretch of races despite adequate training mileage, it’s likely a pacing issue. Reevaluate your pace early in the race, aiming for a more conservative approach. For instance, consider going through the halfway mark at least 10 minutes slower than your current pace for a half marathon. This adjustment can help conserve energy for the latter stages of the race, preventing premature fatigue.

Training for Endurance

Building endurance involves more than just logging miles. Incorporate targeted training sessions to enhance your stamina and resilience. Focus on strength training exercises that target key muscle groups, including the glutes and lower abs, to improve stability and reduce the risk of fatigue-related issues. Additionally, work on maintaining proper form and posture throughout your training runs to optimize efficiency and endurance.

Making sure you do the correct strength training is important. The good news is we’ve created a free strength training plan for runners that you can download by clicking here.

Nutrition and Hydration Strategies

On race day, adequate nutrition and hydration play a crucial role in sustaining endurance. Familiarize yourself with the available nutrition options along the course, including water, sports drinks like Energade, fruits, snacks, and gels. Experiment with different products during training to determine what works best for you and ensures optimal performance without causing gastrointestinal distress. While gels can provide quick energy, relying solely on them for an extended race like Comrades may not be advisable. Instead, aim to supplement with a combination of race-provided nutrition and your preferred fueling options.

Utilizing Race-Day Support

For longer races like Comrades, leverage the support offered by running clubs and race organizers. Many clubs provide designated tables along the course where you can leave personal nutrition items for easy access during the race. This eliminates the need to carry excess gear and allows for seamless fueling without relying solely on race-provided options. Take advantage of these support systems to streamline your race-day experience and enhance your performance.

Improving endurance on race day requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses pacing strategies, targeted training, nutrition planning, and leveraging race-day support. By implementing these strategies and refining your approach through consistent training and experimentation, you can conquer the final kilometers of your races with confidence and achieve your endurance goals.


With a passion for high performance sport – Lindsey Parry is one of South Africa’s most widely recognised coaches. Having led a team to the London, Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, the Gold Coast & Birmingham, and coached both triathletes and runners onto podiums of some of the world’s most illustrious races, Lindsey has a unique ability to understand what it takes to succeed at any level and thrives on coaching, motivating and inspiring others to do the same – whether it’s on the track, on stage or behind a mic.

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