Skip to main content
« My Weekend at The Obstacle Course Racing World Championships Are Orthotics Worth It »

How Strength and Conditioning can help you be a better runner

Categories: Exercise, Goals

I always like to praise my clients for the accomplishments they achieve, no matter how big or small they are.

A number of my clients this year have wanted to take on new challenges and for them in meant upping the distances they were running to include marathons and ultra-marathons and events.

I’ve always stressed the importance of strength and conditioning work to alongside any running training that somebody is doing. This not only improves muscle strength, reduce injury risks but also helps you push your body to the limits of endurance to see what it is capable of.

Strength and Conditioning revolves around all elements of fitness that will help you to progress. For example you will not only need to think about your strength and lifting weights but also including speed, agility, power, flexibility and balance work in your programme.

Suki, Fiona and Cheryl have both had challenges of their own this year. Read their Success Stories here.

Suki has run numerous half marathons and some marathons since she started running and at the beginning of the year wanted to improve her performance and strength. She was noticing as she was increasing her running her calfs were getting tighter and was finding this was starting to affect her running. We balanced her strength and conditioning programme for runners with regular massages to ensure she is in peak performance for when it came to race day.  

Fiona has booked a number of ultra marathons this year and knew she needed to incorporate strength and conditioning as she increased the distances in her training. Fiona has worked relentlessly in training and the increase in her strength and mobility has been amazing. She has come up against a few niggly knee pains, so we introduced some specific exercises for her to work on and sports massage to help her muscles function correctly.

Cheryl has taken on the Rat Race Season Ticket and has been training with me for 3 years, since joining she has seen huge improvements in her training this year took on the Obstacle Course Race World Championships with me. Cheryl is a regular gym goer and uses the sessions to supplement her training, to make sure her technique is correct and it enables her to follow a structures training cycle as she builds up to her events.

There are numerous benefits to strength and conditioning and I apply these principles to the training programmes I design.

  • Adding in circuit training will improve your cardiovascular system, this particularly helps beginners when your CV fitness isn’t as strong as an advanced runner. In turn this improves your stamina.
  • High Intensity Training can make you work to up to 80%of its maximum heart rate because of the short rest periods, because of this when you go back to running you’ll notice the positive effect.
  • Weight training benefits long-distance runners. This is because it improves the strength in your muscles and means they don’t tire and fatigue as quickly. You’ll also see a benefit in your proprioception (your brain signals knowing where your body and limbs are in relation to each other), therefore reducing your injury risks.
  • Add power training into your routine if you’re looking to increase your pace. If you’re focusing on shorter distance you’ll be using more energy as your spring, and will need more power in your muscles as your push of from the start line.

Having a balanced strength and conditioning programme requires expertise and planning. You need to be able to split your year into training cycles to ensure you put in the building blocks in your ‘off season’ and to guarantee you’ll peak at the right time for your race. You should be able to see where your training is focused on the hard work and where your tapering weeks are.

You might have thought this type of training is only needed for competitive athletes, but if you incorporate a periodised approach to your own training you will see massive progressions in your training and these in turn will pass on to race day.  

If you’re looking at developing your own strength and conditioning programme your first step is to look at the big picture, what are the main races or events you have during the year and write them down on a spreadsheet, this will focus your race season. The easiest step is to then split your year into quarters and be a bit more specific for those months, ie making sure each month isn't too overloaded with lots of hard and intense training if you have a big race planned. Once you’ve done this split your month into weeks and decide realistically how many times you’re going to train and the types of training and active recovery that will complement each other.

Once you’ve worked this out you can then dial in on the individual training programme which should be specific to your own goals and needs.

Now that you have seen the benefits of strength training and conditioning, you may be wondering where to start.

Lots of runners I’ve spoken to have previously been under the impression you improve your running by doing more running. Whilst running is important if you incorporate weight and resistance training into your sessions you’ll see noticeable improvements in your strength, fitness, recovery rate and time to complete a run.

We have a number of strength and conditioning programmes to help runners, ranging from 6 weeks – 16 weeks depending on what your training cycle is like.

For more information in them head over to our programme section (OCR Fitness, Personal Training, Marathon Training) or contact me here.