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I came across a great article (Taipale et al. (2010). Strength training in endurance runners. Int J Sports Med, 31(7), 468-76. Epub Apr 29.) on combining strength training and endurance running.

Runners are usually hesitant to step foot in the gym because they believe only running will make them a better runner.

For those that DO step in to the gym, the exercise selection and program consists of machines and circuit training…makes sense right?  Circuit training with high reps should help with the endurance needed to run a fast 1okm, shouldn’t it?  Not quite…

This study examined effects of periodized maximal versus explosive strength training and reduced strength training, combined with endurance training, on neuromuscular and endurance performance.

Quick notes on this study:

  • This study looked at recreational endurance runners
  • Subjects first completed 6 weeks of preparatory strength training.
  • Groups were created with a different program design (8 weeks of training) and exercise focus: maximal strength (MAX, n=11), explosive strength (EXP, n=10) and circuit training (C, n=7)
  • Following, was 14 weeks of reduced strength training.  I believe the study included this phase to simulate the tapper during the racing season.

The study measured:

  • Maximal strength (1RM)
  • EMG of leg extensors
  • Countermovement jump (CMJ),
  • Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max)
  • Velocity at VO2 max
  • Running economy (RE)
  • Basal serum hormones

The study found improvements in maximum strength and countermovement jump (p<0.05) in all groups – also increased EMG in MAX (maximum strength group) and EXP (explosive strength group) (p<0.05) during strength training.

Minor changes occurred in VO2 max, but velocity at VO2 max improved in all groups (p<0.05) and running economy in EXP (explosive training group) (p<0.05).

During reduced strength training maximum strength and EMG activity decreased in the maximum training group (p<0.05) while the velocity at VO2 max in MAX (maximum training group) and EXP (explosive training group) (p<0.05) and running economy in MAX (maximum training group) (p<0.01) all improved.

They found serum testosterone and cortisol levels unaltered.

I’ll quote the article because they sum it up best:

“Maximal or explosive strength training performed concurrently with endurance training was more effective in improving strength and neuromuscular performance and in enhancing the velocity at VO2 max and running economy in recreational endurance runners than concurrent circuit and endurance training.”

What does this mean for you?

 
1.  Circuit training is not effective strength training for a recreational endurance runner.  I am going to speculate with much certainty that this approach doesn’t bode well for a trained endurance runner either.

2.  Strength train with heavy sets of 5 or less with long breaks – 3-4 minutes between sets.

3.  Lift heavy at the right time of year – don’t ruin your legs during racing season.

4.  Explosive strength training AKA plyometric training should form a major component of your strength and conditioning program.  It has been shown to improve running economy and racing performance via multiple physiological mechanisms.

Thanks for reading,

-JK

photo credit: sashamd via photopin cc

I started strength training at JKC in the Spring of 2021. I am in my 60’s but happy to say I feel much younger since joining this gym. I joined JKC upon the advice of a doctor. I went through some difficult medical issues last year, that’s when one of my doctors recommended strength training at JKC. I have been physically active most of my adult life but mainly running and completed many road races as I am a distance runner. Strength training has definitely benefited me by increasing my stamina and energy. It sure has enhanced my recovery over the past year. I have the added benefit of becoming a stronger runner as well.

I had virtually no real experience using weights and felt intimidated going gyms. I avoided gym-goers using free weights, especially when hearing that loud crash, as they would drop weights to the floor. I thought this was to show everyone around them that they owned that area and that I shouldn’t go anywhere near! So I guess I just wanted to learn how to lift weights safely in a gym environment.

I spent over 18 years in the British Military, so I got to use some nice gyms. 99% of my time and experiences in those gyms was spent doing cardiovascular workouts, because I could just jump on a treadmill, plug in my head phones and do my own thing! JKC is different, because they have given me the confidence to use free weights and equipment that I had feared for years. Their demonstrations and knowledge is impeccable and I thank them for their continuous belief and support they show me at every session.

Courtney Sharpe

Nutritional Coaching by Julia Howard

For the past two months I have worked with the JKC team and have never felt better! In addition to a personal fitness plan, JKC’s holistic nutritionist, Julia, worked with me and around my busy schedule to educate me on healthier food options and meal planning. I maintain a daily food log which Julia reviews and provides feedback on and we also have weekly chats to discuss my nutritional goals and potential improvement areas. Julia also helped me to identify and work around dietary constraints which have caused digestion issues for years!

Julia and the rest of the JKC family have helped me get my confidence back! I love starting my days with a good sweat and a healthy breakfast. I understand what foods make me feel my best and my body is well on its way to becoming more lean, fit and happy! I would totally recommend Julia and the entire JKC team!

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JKC was recommended to me by a fellow runner. I was experiencing injuries, and feeling weak and fragile. When I started with JKC, Jon asked me about my goals and my focus. I wanted to concentrate specifically on running, and preventing injury. Jon developed a program for me that has enabled me to focus on my form and strength and has been flexible enough to enable me to train for many different races. I have been training with JKC for six years, and during that time I have enjoyed Jon and Thomas’s expertise in a very warm and supportive atmosphere.

My original reason for joining JKC was to get some sage advice to help with my running. I had been looking for awhile, came across Jon, met for an assessment, and was quite happy with how that all went. Apart from the running specific strengthening and conditioning approaches, JKC is different from other gyms as I am a fan of the small group sessions where everyone has their own goals and individualized programs. As well, the run coaching is super. All the coaches go the extra mile to make sure you get the best out each training session. They are fantastic motivators! My favourite memory is deadlifting 330lbs. Making a lot of great friends and meeting some really cool people is pretty high up on that list, too.

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