I recently received an email from a member regarding the benefit (if any) of strength training for the long distance runner. It got me thinking about all the runners we have a TSAC and hence motivated me to write this post.
Through out the strength and conditioning community, "Strength Training" or lifting weights for the purpose to improve local muscle strength has always been some what of a touchy subject with the long distance community. The apprehension lies in the fact that it takes more energy to move more muscle. Simply put, the heavier your are the harder it becomes to run for long distances. The cardio lovers also throw out the argument, "Being stronger has nothing to do with my bodies ability to deliver Oxygen to working muscles". In a research setting, this is actually correct.
Regardless of that fact, weight lifting has proved itself very effective at not only making an athlete run faster, but also be able to run longer. A recent publication sited that this happens primarily because of two reasons:
"1. Because increasing an athletes muscular strength will increase their muscular power, which is the product of force (strength) and speed. Athletic performance is ultimately limited by the amount of force and power that can be produced and sustained.
2. In addition to the skeletal muscles’ aerobic and anaerobic metabolic capacities, force and power are influenced by neuromuscular coordination, skeletal muscles mechanics and energetics, and efficiency of converting metabolic power into mechanical power."
Put into simpler terms, strength training helps fight off fatigue by helping the body do more work with less effort. These findings are now becoming more commonly understood by strength and conditioning practitioners. Coaches are now having their athletes run less and bump up the intensity. This alleviates common over use injuries due to high mileage, and improves the rate at which muscles can produce force. It also helps an athletes maintain running economy, where running economy is defined as the amound of steady state O2 consumption it takes to maintain a given running speed.
Bottom line, if you want to run longer, faster or more effienct, your training program should have elements of strength and power training. Once again CrossFit sounds like a good fit
A. 500m Row x 2 Max Effort
Power Cleans (95/65)
Ab Mat Sit Ups