One of the very first posts I wrote when I joined NK Fitness was around strength training for running. Within the post I talked about the benefits of strength training and how squatting heavy weight can begin to replicate the stress placed upon the muscles and connective tissues. I also talked about how many people people still opt out of the gym despite research showing it can be hugely beneficial.
I was recently reading through Strength & Conditioning for Endurance Running, by Rich Blagrove. Within the book is a section on dispelling myths surrounding strength and conditioning. I wanted to share a few of my favourite takeaways and points he makes within the chapter.
Lifting Weights Will Make You Bulky
The book initially throws up the image of large muscular gym goers throwing weights around and grunting profusely. From here, it goes on to explain that despite many similarities, a few factors mean this is not the case when training for endurance running.
Despite the fact that many of the exercises will be used for bodybuilding and running, it is how they are applied that is the key difference. The goal within bodybuilding is to breakdown muscle fibres and rebuild bigger. Strength training for endurance may focus on the neuromuscular adaptations and developing specific force related qualities through similar movement patterns.
I’ll keep this short but sweet. The book presents one study with surprising numbers surrounding weight training, running and injuries. It discusses how only 2-4 injuries occur for every 10,00 hours of training within weight lifting. In comparison, cross country runners reported around 37 injuries within the same training hours!
Endurance Requires Endurance, Not Strength.
Well yes, this is true. Muscular endurance is undoubtedly a key factor in long distance performance. They key take away from the book is a simple one, the fact that you are already running long distances, suggests you will get your muscular endurance from your running. The use of S&C should be to develop other important qualities surrounding your performance.
Use your time in the gym to focus on improving movement patters, both simple and complex. Ensuring your body can move effectively and efficiently will mean you do not waste energy when running. Making sure you nervous system can produce, organise and co-ordinate accordingly to produce force is essential. Ensure your body has the capacity to deal with the repeated stress and loading from running. Remember every step can send 2-3 times your bodyweight of force through your joints!
Technique Is King. Don’t Just Wing It.
One of the first things I do with a client when starting their Personal Training Journey in Richmond, London, is assess movement. I normally start this by getting them to perform a squat, no instruction, just what they believe to be correct. A large amount of the time people find this hard to do and start doubting themselves. Time spent on technique with an external, experience source can really maximise your potential and increase the benefits of strength training.