Improving Your Running Performance

Posted: January 6, 2015 in Strength and Conditioning for Performance
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Running is a very good activity. It requires minimum equipment and gives a lot of health benefits. The running community should be growing and it is good news for the shoe companies and race organizers. There are many events too, from fun runs to trail running to ultramarathons. You also get a lot of crazy events like zombie runs, sky running, and guess what – underwater running! I even heard of a story of a guy who runs 20 kilometers to work and back. And then he deliberately moved his residence much further from his office so he could run more. Hmmnnn… he must be running away from something.

 

ultra runSo how do you improve your running ability? First is you have to run. Running is the best exercise for running. But there are some aspects in running which can be improved by strength training. These would be the uphills, downhills, sprints, and any situation where the runner needs to speed up or to produce and absorb forces quickly like in a sudden change of direction to avoid falling off the trail in a trail run. Strength training increases muscle power output. According to the work of McBride, et. al, muscle power is most important in running events of shorter distances (60 to 200 meters), but there is also a significant correlation between muscle power between middle and long distance running (800 to 5,000 meters). In the athletic population, Strength Coaches work with sprinters since their sport requires very powerful movements. But it has also been observed that Strength training benefits the endurance runners. Davis, et. al, studied the effects of concurrent training (meaning Aerobic training and Strength training done together) on 30 women and 20 men. They concluded that, for endurance adaptations in athletes, strength and endurance training can be done concurrently and will have a positive effect. Another research by Esteve-Lanao and his friends led to the conclusion that strength training minimizes the loss of stride length that typically occurs in endurance runners. Strength training maintains running mechanics aside from improving power (speed). There are other areas like your nutritional intake, hydration, and timing of meals but that is for my friend, a Nutritionist – Dietician, to write about.

 

So there you have it runners, you basically have to run if you want to improve running. If you reached a certain level of mng jasrunning competency, a good strength training program can help you improve your running performance by improving your power output and by minimizing the effects of fatigue on your running mechanics. And another important thing which is usually overlooked when it comes to strength training is its injury prevention or mitigating aspect. An advice to those who plan to do back to back concurrent training: it is better to do your strength training first before you run. That way, your energy system works more efficiently. The chances of straining yourself is also lesser. There was a time when I would run around 6km to the office (which is a gym), then do my strength training before I start work. It was working well for a few weeks. Then one day it became very humid. I must have been dehydrated after the run but I proceeded with my strength training as usual. But due to my carelessness, I strained my back. When I analyzed what went wrong, it must have been a combination of a lot of factors like dehydration, poor technique due to fatigue, over – overloading, and basically bad judgement. I learned from that and came out wiser.

 

If you plan to do trail running, or any distance running, a good preparation with strength training can make the running experience more enjoyable. A runner gave me a tip when I was competing in our University Sports Day running event and it really works: “You want to run faster and better? Run fast!”

Val R. Jr. PTRP, CSCS

 

References:

  • Relationship Between Jumping Ability and Running Performance in Events of Varying Distance. Hudgins, et. al. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research March 2013
  • Running – Specific, Periodized Strength Training Attenuates Loss of Stride Length During Intense Endurance Running. Esteve-Lanao, et. al. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, July 2008
  • Concurrent Training Enhances Athletes’ Cardiovascular and Cardiorespiratory Measures. Davis, W Jackson, Wood, Daniel T; Andrews, Ryan G, Elkind, Les M, Davis, W Bart, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Sept. 2008

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