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Strength training for Endurance Running

Running is arguably the most natural and pure form of physical exercise that the body can be exposed to.

Participation in endurance events is at an all-time high with thousands of people taking part in road running events including the king of all endurance running events, the marathon. Traditionally, endurance runners and coaches have neglected other forms of training such as strength training and conditioning techniques. This is perhaps due to the fear of unwanted muscle bulk and excessive muscle soreness. However, endurance runners all round the world are acknowledging the value to strength and conditioning techniques in relation to long distance running.

Strength can be loosely described as the highest amount of force that a muscle group can produce under specific conditions. To start moving quickly as we run, we need the capacity to produce a high level of fore rapidly through this movement pattern. Therefore, it is hugely beneficial to strengthen running muscles. Strength exercises should transfer a degree of specificity that allows transfer to running action. This includes exercises with a lower body triple extension movement pattern. Triple extension is a simultaneous extension of the ankle knee and hip joints which allows you to accelerate your body with a high level of force, the same as a running stride. Extending at these three joints takes advantage of the powerful extensor muscles and their ability to transmit force across the hip to the knee, to the ankle and through the ground. Two examples of effective triple extension strength exercises in relation to endurance running are the squat and the deadlift.

SQUATS

Squats are extremely effective in improving physical qualities as well as posture and mobility.

Specifically:

  • Improvement in leg power and strength through strengthening running specific muscles such as the calves, hamstrings, hip flexors and glutes
  • Knee stability
  • Body awareness
  • Overuse running prevention

Prescription and progressing of the Squat

NEW TO STRENGTH TRAINING

EXPERIENCED ENDURANCE RUNNER

Goblet Squat

3X12 reps (2-3 minutes recovery)

 

Aims:

Introduce squat technique

Back Squat

Basic strength- 3X5-7 at 70-80% of 1RM

Max strength 3-5X1-4 at 85-100%1RM\

Aims:

Improve lower limb strength and posture


DEADLIFT

The deadlift is arguably the most effective strength exercise when it comes to improving the performance of endurance runners. It is a more hip dominant movement compared to the squat with a smaller range of motion, meaning that a heavier load can generally be lifted. It also strengthens the entire posterior chain including the glutes, hamstrings, calves, back and shoulders.


Prescription and progressing of the Deadlift

NEW TO STRENGTH TRAINING

EXPERIENCED ENDURANCE RUNNER

Romanian Deadlift

3X12 reps (2-3 minutes recovery)

Aims:                                                                                Simpler skill to learn first

Removes the contribution from the knees so The overall distance the bar travels is shorter

Conventional Deadlift

Basic strength- 3X5-7 at 70-80% of 1RM

Max strength- 3-5X1-4 at 85-100%1RM

Aims:        

Improve lower limb strength, improve posture and lower back strength


STRENGTH TRAINING SESSION EXAMPLES

Example of resistance training session for a beginner

Exercise Sets Repetitions Load Recovery
Goblet squat

RDL’s

Press ups

Split squat

Step-up

2

3

3

2

2

10

12

Max.

8

8

10 kg dumbbell

20kg barbell

B/W

8kg dumbbells

B/W

2-3min

Example of resistance training session for an experienced endurance runner

Exercise Sets Repetitions Load Recovery
Hang clean

Back squat

Single leg box jump

Reverse lunge

Pull ups

 3

4

4

3

3

4

6

4

6

8

50kg

80kg

B/W

40kg

B/W

 

3min

 


See also Strength Training For Runners