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WHY STRENGTH TRAINING FOR RUNNING IS IMPORTANT?

When runners say they train, what do they actually mean? Do they just run a few times a week, do they run more often, and are they blending their running with a well-rounded programme in the gym? It is important to factor into your thinking the amount of time you can dedicate to training in terms of time of day, time per day, days per week or time per month. Too many runners dedicate time to running, but other non-running activities such as resistance training are not given much consideration.
 
There is now plenty of evidence to support the proposal that strength training should be added to a runner’s training regime. A meta-analysis [study of studies] by Fernandez et al. (2016) investigated the effects of a strength training programme on running economy (oxygen cost of running at particular speeds = RE). It demonstrated that low and high-intensity resistance exercises, along with plyometric exercises performed 2-3 times per week for 8-12 weeks, were beneficial in improving running economy.

Similarly, a study by Beattie et al. (2017) investigated the effect of a 40-week strength
training intervention (maximal and reactive) together with other measures in competitive distance runners. During the intervention, physiological and strength key performance indicators (KPIs) were measured at 0, 20 and 40 weeks. The intervention group showed significant improvements in maximal and reactive strength qualities, RE and maximal oxygen uptake midway through the intervention and at the end. In comparison, the control group showed no significant changes.
 
What about training both endurances together with muscle hypertrophy, strength and power (concurrent training – CT)? A review of the body of research on CT on running performance in highly competitive endurance runners found that a few studies reported a 2.9% improvement in 3 & 5k performances, while all others reviewed revealed a 4.6% improved running economy (Yamamoto, 2008). With these findings in mind, it makes sense to space these sessions. From fatigue and the interference effect, a 24-hour recovery period between training sessions is suggested, in fact, the longer the better.
 
In the real world, this may not always be practical! Therefore, 6 hours or more is suggested to reduce muscular fatigue due to previous bouts of endurance training to retain muscular performance for resistance training (Sporer and Wenger, 2003).

Research findings show that strength work provides many positives for runners. The main one is that it helps you, a runner, to avoid or minimize risk from injury, by helping you to strengthen your muscles and connective tissue. It also enables you to run faster and increase your VO₂ max.
 
Another factor is that your brain signals to your body to recruit less fatigue-resistant muscle fibres. You thereby use less energy and become more efficient whilst running. If you want to perform at your full potential, your attitude to running should be detailed and comprehensive. This is the philosophy underlying this eBook; it aims to provide you with a greater understanding of how you can achieve this.


This graph represents a theoretical 10% improvement in running economy
yielding a 6.7% improvement in speed at faster speeds (5.5 m/s) and 12.6%
improvement at slower speeds (2.5 m/s) (Kipp, 2019).

Balsalobre-Fernandez, C., Santos-Concejero, J., Grivas G. V. (2016). Effects of strength training on running economy in highly trained runners: a systematic review with meta-analysis of controlled trials. J Strength Cond Res, 30(8), pp. 2361-8.

Beattie, K., Carson, B. P., Lyons, M., Rossiter., A., Kenny., I. C. (2017). The effect of strength training on performance indicators in distance runners. J Strength Cond Res, 31(1), pp. 9- 23.

Kipp, S., Byrnes, W. C., Kram, R. (2018). Calculating metabolic energy expenditure across a wide range of exercise intensities: the equation matters. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab, 43(6), pp. 639-642.
Sporer, B.C., Wenger, H.A. (2003). Effects of aerobic exercise on strength performance following various periods of recovery. J Strength Cond Res, 17(4), pp. 638-644.

Yamamoto, L. M., Lopez, R. M., Klau, J. F., Casa, D. J., Kraemer, W. J., Maresh, C. M. (2008). The effects of resistance training on endurance distance running performance among highly trained runners: a systematic review. J Strength Cond Res, 22(6), pp. 2036- 2044.

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