HOW TO RUN STRONG
Man Tri’s Nick Thomas guides you through the principles of strength and conditioning to improve your running
Strength and conditioning sessions are the secret to running faster.
M any runners have previously done strength and conditioning (S&C) training at some point but usually with little structure or purpose. For resistance training to provide any benefit the following points must be achieved:
• Effective exercises are used
• The resistance is appropriate
• The program is progressive
• Safe, correct technique is demonstrated at all times
There are several potential benefits of following a well-designed S&C program:
1 INCREASED FORCE PRODUCTION
Running requires force production as you make contact with the ground and drive yourself forwards. The more force you can repeatedly apply the faster you’ll go, regardless of the distance. It’s also worth considering that strength naturally deteriorates faster with age without effective resistance training.
2 INJURY PREVENTION
Joints that are stabilised by stronger muscles are likely to function more efficiently for longer and under greater stress. Simply put, the stronger your body is, the more aerobic training it can tolerate.
3 IMPROVED ECONOMY
Slowing in the later stages of a race is often due to deterioration in technique as the musculoskeletal system fatigues and can’t maintain efficiency. By improving muscular endurance, elasticity and functional strength you’ll be more likely to maintain effective technique until the finish.
4 IMPROVED TECHNIQUE AND COORDINATION
Much strength development is due to improved muscle coordination and synchronisation through one or more joints. Exercises that develop coordination will contribute to improved sportspecific technique.
5 FITTING IT IN
I suggest you complete your S&C session immediately after a swim, bike or run session.
Two 30 minute sessions each week will be enough to develop functional strength providing the choice and intensity of exercises are appropriate. Shorter sessions will also prevent you causing too much muscle damage so run sessions won’t be compromised.
6 KEEP IT SPECIFIC
Having stronger muscles in isolation is very unlikely to make you run faster, so the key is to select exercises that are relevant to the mechanics of running. Avoid machines unless specific exercises have been advised by a healthcare professional: they work isolated muscles through a specific range of movement and provide no or very little functional benefit.
Exercises should involve multiple joints and muscle groups working in an integrated, coordinated manner within a natural range of motion. “Train the movement, not the muscle” is the key principle to follow.
7 CHOOSE THE CORRECT RESISTANCE
Most people use resistance that is far too low to achieve the gains they’re looking for with too high repetition max (RM).
High repetition maxes (15+ RM) will develop strength endurance but cause considerable fatigue which will then affect subsequent sport-specific sessions. Low reps (3-6 RM) will develop strength but require good technique and a period of adaptation to develop technique and musculoskeletal coordination.
8-12 RM is the traditional range to develop hypertrophy but bridges the progression from adaptation to strength-specific ranges.
8 THE SOLUTION
Initially, it makes sense to use lower weights with a higher rep max and progressively increase resistance (weight) while reducing the RM. In the build up to an event, plyometric exercises is then advised, when the aim is to improve muscular ‘snap’ without unwanted muscular fatigue or DOMS.
Squat and press with dumbells
Alternating lunge jump