The Benefits of Strength and Conditioning Training for Runners: what you need to know

If you enjoy running, then I am sure you are always looking for ways to get faster, improve performance and avoid injury. Despite the extensive data supporting the positive effects that regular strength and conditioning training can have on runners, many individuals skip this essential component in their weekly training regime. 

Some of the benefits that is associated with regular strength and conditioning training for runners include:

  1. Improved running economy. Running economy is essentially how efficient you are whilst running at a given speed. Runners with good economy use less oxygen than runners with poor economy at the same speed.
  2. Faster time trial performance. A study that implemented a 6-week running specific strength and conditioning training twice weekly found an improvement in 5km time trial performance among the participants.  
  3. Faster maximal sprint speed. One study showed improvements of 2-8% in maximal speed.
  4. Reducing injury risk and incidents of running injuries.

Runners of all levels should consider adding two strength and conditioning sessions into their week. One study has found that after an 8-week strength training intervention for  runners lifting 3x per week lead to significant improvements in strength (33.2%), rate of force development (26.0%), running economy (5.0%) and time to exhaustion at maximal aerobic speed (21.3%). It is worth noting that with increased strength training on this population there was no change in maximal oxygen uptake or body weight. 

Regular strength training helps to minimise muscular imbalances and weaknesses, increasing our capacity to withstand greater training loads and avoid injury. Utilising progressive overload principles to gradually increase volume, regular strength training assists the body to become more robust to keep doing what we love to do, lacing up the shoes and heading out the door for a run!

If you would like more guidance with exercise selection, technique, loading variables, progressions or regressions of exercises feel free to contact the friendly staff at Flex or try out one of our strength training for runners group classes commencing later in July.

Resources

Beattie, K, Carson, BP, Lyons, M, Rossiter, A, and Kenny, IC (2017). The effect of strength training on performance indicators in distance runners. J Strength Cond Res 31(1): 9–23.

Karsten B, Stevens L, Colpus M, et al. The effects of sport-specific maximal strength and conditioning training on critical velocity, anaerobic running distance, and 5-km race performance. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 2016;11:80–5.

STØREN, Ø., Helgerud, J. A. N., Støa, E. M., & Hoff, J. A. N. (2008). Maximal strength training improves running economy in distance runners. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 40(6), 1087-1092.

Yamamoto LM, Lopez RM, Klau JF, et al. The effects of resistance training on endurance distance running performance among highly trained runners: a systematic review. J Strength Cond Res 2008;22:2036–44.