Middle and long distance running performance is constrained by several important aerobic and anaerobic parameters. Recently the effects of strength training for distance runners has received considerable attention. Below I am going to review the topic and outline the benefits.

From a physiological perspective the three main parameters that influence running performance is maximal oxygen uptake (VO₂max), running economy (RE) and fractional Utilization (sustainable percentage of VO₂max).

Along with improvements in cardio-vascular related parameters associated with running volumes and interval training, running economy can also been improved. The improvement of RE has been elicited through an increase in strength training, along with correct loading patterns.

Running economy during running relies on the generation of rapid force during contact when running and also the ability for the muscle tendon unit to direct and absorb force in the right direction. Strength training provides an overload to the neuromuscular system, improving muscle fibre recruitment, firing frequency, musculotendinous stiffness and intramuscular co-ordination

Pratical guidelines:

  1. The addition of 2 to 3 supervised strength training sessions per week is likely to provide a sufficient stimulus to augment parameters within a 6 to 14 week period
  2. Longer durations of strength training are likely to elicit larger benefits
  3. Heavy resistance training, explosive resistance training and plyometric training modalities can be used to achieve similar outcomes assuming the runners have a relatively low level strength training background.
  4. However, initially a periodised approach, starting with heavy resistance training and then following on with explosive resistance training, incorporating plyometric training is the best approach.
  5. A targeted resistance training program, which aims to increase muscle mass specifically around the proximal region of the lower limb may enhance biomechanical and physiological factors which positively influence running economy.


Example of Programme for Runners


Exercise Week No:   Week No:  
Session A Set Rep Rest RPE Best Wt Set Rep Rest RPE Best Wt
1 Jump Squat 4 5 120 6   4 5 120 6  
2a Pull Ups 3 tf 90 7   3 tf 90 7  
2b DB Split Squat 3 5/5 90 6   3 5/5 90 6  
3a Ankle Iso Holds (4s) 3 6/6 90 7   3 6/6 90 7  
3b Iso Hip March (5s) 3 6/6 90 7   3 6/6 90 7  
  *tf (Till Failure)                    
Session B Set Rep Rest RPE Best Wt Set Rep Rest RPE Best Wt
1a Back Squat 3 6 120 8   3 6 120 8  
1b Jammer Press 3 6/6 90 7   3 6/6 90 7  
2a BB Hip Thrust 3 6 90 8   3 6 90 8  
2b BB Bent Over Row 3 6/6 90 7   3 6/6 90 7  
3a Weighted Step-Up 3 6/6 120 7   3 6/6 120 7  


Tissue Conditioning

  Tissue Conditioning Sets x Reps
  SL Weighted Calf Raises 3×10
  Front Plank 3x45s
  Side Plank L+R 2x30s
  Back Extentions 3×10
  Aleknas 3×10
  SB Hamstring Curls 3×10


Plyometric Drills

  Plyometric Drills
  Drop Jumps +Stick
  SL Box Jumps
  A Switch

Do you want to improve your distance running and feel you would benefit from programs like the above? Call today on 01732 or contact us via enquiries@betterbodygroup.co.uk.

Harriet Clark
Personal Training Sevenoaks
Better Body Group