The Effect of Strength Training on Performance Indicators in Distance Runners.

RESULTS:
The intervention group showed significant improvements in maximal- and reactive-strength qualities, Running Economy (RE) and velocity at maximal oxygen uptake (VV˙O2max), at weeks 20 (p < 0.05) and 40 weeks (p < 0.05) of strength training pre-season and in-season compared to the control group.

More interestingly:
– Straining Training improved reactive strength qualities (read stability) in the intervention group during in-season while reactive strength qualities actually decreased in the control group (probably due to accumulated exhaustion).

Beside the improvements in maximal- and reactive-strength qualities, Running Economy (RE) and velocity at maximal oxygen uptake (VV˙O2max), moderate improvements were also seen in Lean leg mass for the intervention group versus small improvements for the control.

PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR THE CLINICIAN:
A general maximal-strength orientated programme (2 x week, with low-volume plyometrics) during the pre-season is an appropriate and efficient method for improving both maximal- and reactive-strength capabilities in distance runners.

This study demonstrated that this structure of strength programming can significantly improve economy and VV˙O2max over a 20 week pre-season period.

It is advised that during the ‘racing’ season, strength sessions are performed once per week to maintain strength qualities, especially reactive-strength.

In fact, the intervention group in this study were able to improve reactive-strength by a further 6.8% with only one session per week, while maintaining maximal-strength. This study showed that in distance runners who do not perform strength training, reactive strength can deteriorate by 7.9 % throughout the racing season period.

Distance runners who are already ‘strong’ and have high force capabilities, may need to place a greater emphasis on specific reactive-strength training (9) and maximal-velocity sprinting (13) to gain further improvements in economy and VV˙O2max-

It is important to note that for optimal adaptation and development of endurance and strength qualities, strength sessions should be carefully programmed around ‘intense’ aerobic (i.e. ‘race-pace’ / > Lactate Threshold 2 / > 80% V02max) and anaerobic endurance training.