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Strength & Conditioning for Runners

  • 10-04-2015 5:03pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 1,895 ✭✭✭


    How important is it?

    Do you do any?

    Bodyweight exercises vs. gym work?

    To plank or not to plank? Pilates?

    Interested to hear people's thoughts and experiences on S&C - and current regimes.


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,182 ✭✭✭demfad


    Sacksian wrote: »
    How important is it?

    Do you do any?

    Bodyweight exercises vs. gym work?

    To plank or not to plank? Pilates?

    Interested to hear people's thoughts and experiences on S&C - and current regimes.

    This is what I'm up to at the moment!

    https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10153793250791110&pnref=story


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 620 ✭✭✭Djoucer


    Seems to be a bit of a debate now about the plank. Interesting post here on why you shouldn't do the plank: mile27.com.au/why-runners-shouldnt-do-the-plank/

    I do variations of this: runnersworld.com/race-training/video-general-strength-exercises#1

    I find reverse lungs/stabilization lunge, calf lifts, planks, hip flexion stretches and deep squats to be quite beneficial.
    Looking at any of the elites,


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,895 ✭✭✭Sacksian


    I do all of these quite regularly but I guess I always thought of them as "flexibility", rather than "strength" - not sure why!
    Djoucer wrote: »
    reverse lungs/stabilization lunge, calf lifts, hip flexion stretches

    I really should do them even more often because I spend fairly much the whole day sitting in front of a computer and when I've got a deadline, I can almost feel the impending injuries from my whole posterior chain tightening up as I'm hunched over the laptop!

    Anyone got any routines to build into my day?


  • Registered Users Posts: 350 ✭✭kal7


    I would be an advocate of lunges, with or without weight depending on level.

    But sometimes more important work your weak points.

    Sole of foot or plantars by crawling along carpet with feet scrunching.

    Lateral hip muscles (TFL) by calm exercise or side plank.

    low level activation (ie. work at 10%) lower abs work to help posture while running. Roll exercise ball forward and back, lying on back, with calves on ball.

    Hope these make sense.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,623 ✭✭✭dna_leri


    How important is it?
    Not as important as running but next/best thing. Good for maintaining strength/power as you get older. Helps imbalances and running form and therefore probably helps prevent injury but it's not the magic bullet. Although I have only had one week off injured in last 4 years I think, (touch wood) and that was at a time I had reduced my strength work.

    Do you do any?
    Yes, weights approx 1 per week - stuff like lunges, squats (incl single leg), deadlifts and some combinations. I have never had an S&C coach so maybe I do some of them wrong. I don't lift more than my own body-weight so no heavy stuff which also reduces injury risk.
    I do bodyweight exercises for 15-20 mins 2-3 times per week, based on this
    http://www.coachjayjohnson.com/2011/12/strength-training-for-runners-part-1-2/


    Bodyweight exercises vs. gym work?
    Start with bodyweight, progress to free-weights. I prefer exercises that work on running related muscles so not much bench presses or bicep curls. I think free-weights are more suitable than machines that work on one muscle group only.

    To plank or not to plank? Pilates?
    No planks or pilates. I stopped doing planks a year or so ago based on stuff I read about their lack of benefit for runners. Don't know enough about Pilates but purely on a time v's benefit, I think I would be better running. I would like to try sometime to find out.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,694 ✭✭✭Chivito550


    Great discussion to open up, and something that isn't discussed enough on the forum.

    Coming from a sprinter point of view I believe strength/gym work to be essential. It helps build up power which can then be used on the track, but also, it helps lower the risk of injury. The track training can be brutal on the body, so having a strong body is of huge importance when trying to undertake this.

    But I believe strength training should be part of all runner's routines, not just for sprinters. Every programme will differ depending on the distance being trained for, and depending on the person. But make no mistake, it is an important ingredient for any runner.

    Take the 800m to start with. The event is about 30% anaerobic. You need to be fast, and have a certain amount of explosive power to do well in it. Obviously not to the extent of a sprinter, but it is important nonetheless. One of the guys I know from Melbourne trains in the club gym I used to train in. He's in his early 40s now, and is still an absolute beast in the gym, and still runs low to mid 1:50s now. Back in his day he was a 1:47 guy and Australian National Champion. He now coaches Alex Rowe, a 1:44 guy, Australian record holder, the best in the business there, and you can bet your bottom dollar that he is passing on his strength and conditioning wisdom to him. The top 800m guys lift weights, so why should it be any different for those operating at club level and lower?

    Further up in distance, you have examples of Mo Farah squatting 200lbs as part of his strength training. If it didn't help him, then I doubt Salazar would be wasting his time having him doing it.

    One thing I have noticed among distance runners at a non-elite level is that many just don't treat strength training with the importance it deserves. "I try to do it when I can" and "I'll really try to be better with it going forward" are quite common phrases. Many distance runners just don't understand how important having a strong body is when trying to tackle such arduous training. A change in mindset is needed to treating strength work as a proper part of your training, not as an optional extra, whenever you have time. If done correctly it will hugely reduce the risk of injury.

    To get the right strength programme to fit in with your goals and distance, it is best to contact a qualified strength and conditioning coach, preferably one with a background in athletics. It's easy to follow stuff on the internet, but without somebody to test out where your weaknesses are, and having an understanding of the event you are training for, you run the risk of targeting the wrong areas. I generally leave my strength work up to my S&C coach as I wouldn't have a breeze what to do, so it's easier having somebody more knowledgeable to inform you. It costs money, but I believe it is worth it. Better than paying out on physio bills trying to recover from an injury.

    It's a pity ecoli doesn't post here as I know him to be a distance runner who places strong importance on the gym, and it would have been good to get his insight on this.


  • Registered Users Posts: 305 ✭✭conavitzky


    On what days should you incorporate strength training? Easy or hard?


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,055 ✭✭✭Pacing Mule


    This seems like a perfect thread for my questions.

    At DCM last year I shredded both my quads on the downhill section from Castleknock to the park. Bit me badly at the canal up to Walkinstown and almost DNF'd me. Other than doing more MP miles on steep downhills what would be the best excercises I could do to strengthen them up ?

    Any good tips / exercises for loosening tight calve muscles ?


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,370 ✭✭✭pconn062


    conavitzky wrote: »
    On what days should you incorporate strength training? Easy or hard?

    Typically you try to make your hard days hard and easy days easy, so I would usually incorporate strength work into my session days and try to avoid doing it on my recovery days. This may mean you go into some of your sessions a little fatigues, but the body usually adapts to it fairly quickly.


  • Registered Users Posts: 305 ✭✭conavitzky


    pconn062 wrote: »
    Typically you try to make your hard days hard and easy days easy, so I would usually incorporate strength work into my session days and try to avoid doing it on my recovery days. This may mean you go into some of your sessions a little fatigues, but the body usually adapts to it fairly quickly.
    Cheers p. That's what I was figuring. I imagined if you did them on an easy day that it would leave you fatigued for your sessions.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,182 ✭✭✭demfad


    Chivito550 wrote: »
    .....
    But I believe strength training should be part of all runner's routines, not just for sprinters. ....

    I would agree with all that. I would say that its also an ingredient that is missing with distance coaching here perhaps.

    The progression of stability, strenght, ballistics, perhaps on to plyos is something that might indeed benefit distance runners.

    (I'd put strenght training as least important there for distance runners)

    It must be remembered that improvements in economy become more important relative to improvements in maximum force output as the event distance gets longer.

    Improvements in economy from explosive strength training are due to neural adaptations rather than muscle hypertrophy.

    So if you wanted to use a form of weight training to improve running economy, you'd be better off replacing squats with rapid leg presses.

    For a distance runner wishing to start strenght work a combination of fast leg and calf presses (as demonstrated at the start of that video I linked earlier) and uphill strides could be a good start.

    (For fast leg presses I mean 20-100 a set.)

    The uphill strides would be 20 x 10-12s up a 2-3% slope with full recovery.
    The shallow slope is good as it forces the runner to use good form applicable to the flat.

    Steep hill sprints are useful all year round. The effect on stroke volume of the left heart ventricle is very significant. We do a lot of exercise to increase aerobic capabilities in the extremities. But all of these capabilities are governed by the MaxHR and the stroke volume, i.e the amount of blood you can get to these exercising muscles. If the amount of oxygen carrying blood goes up per heart beat, your pace at LT should be faster. The heart is the great limiter and enabler for distance runners.

    Hill springing is something that distance runners could also use. Lydiard described a little hill springing being used to transition from the conditioning phase to the hill phase. That's all I would use. A sprinking to mix with the other ingredients.

    What strenght work for distance runners?

    Id say: Rapid leg/calf presses, functional training (think it involves ballistics), body weight exercises, squat/star/rocket jumps etc, uphill strides, hill springs, hill sprints.

    Progress from non running specific to specific over a base phase. Reduce as competition phase nears. Hill strides, hill sprints, various flat strides and drills all year round.

    They are all quite do-able exercises. A runner should self check or have themselves checked for stability issues first.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,272 ✭✭✭Dubgal72


    This is a great thread! Now I just have to synthesise all this information into a programme...


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,370 ✭✭✭pconn062


    As demfad mentioned, if people are interested in self checking themselves (oh matron) for weakness in particular areas then I highly recommend Jay Dicharry's book Anatomy for Runners. IMO it is a must read for understanding how we run, why we get injured and how to fix problem areas.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,370 ✭✭✭pconn062


    Thought I'd post up a rough outline of what I do. I basically have two different sets that I alternate on different days.

    Day 1

    Squats w/light weight (2x30 reps)
    Single leg squats w/light weight (2x10 on each leg)
    Eccentric hamstring Single leg RDL (10 reps per leg)
    Anterior tibialis stretch against wall (3x15 reps)
    Balance exercises, proprioception on wobble cushion

    Day 2


    Bridge (2x10)
    Single leg bridge (10 reps on each leg)
    Plank (4x30 secs)
    Side plank (2x30 secs per side)
    Balance exercises

    Stretching and foam rolling on both days as well.

    Even with all that I still get regular injuries! :)

    Started a new programme in the gym yesterday which focuses more on heavier weights with less reps so that might help too.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,370 ✭✭✭pconn062


    This seems like a perfect thread for my questions.

    At DCM last year I shredded both my quads on the downhill section from Castleknock to the park. Bit me badly at the canal up to Walkinstown and almost DNF'd me. Other than doing more MP miles on steep downhills what would be the best excercises I could do to strengthen them up ?

    Any good tips / exercises for loosening tight calve muscles ?

    Squats would be really good for strengthening up the quads. Start with just body weight squats, something like 3x15. Then you can up the amount, 3x20, 2x30. Once you get comfortable with that you can add some weight, you can use a backpack with some weight in it if you have no weights. Even start with a kettle bell if you have one. I'm not sure about the PM miles on steep downhills, I imagine that would be very tough on the legs and might be something you want to approach carefully.

    As for the calves, I find self massage to be really useful. Basically, in a seated position cross one leg onto the other so that the ankle is resting on the other knee. Then feel down the calf with your fingers and see if you can find any hotspots/tight places. Then dig your fingers in and flex your foot up and down to try and work out the knots. This is quite aggressive but the harder you can do it the better. Also, I find the "stick" to be better than a foam roller so you can try that too. Lightly stretch the calf afterwards and apply ice to any of the points you massaged if necessary.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,694 ✭✭✭Chivito550


    pconn062 wrote: »
    Squats would be really good for strengthening up the quads. Start with just body weight squats, something like 3x15. Then you can up the amount, 3x20, 2x30. Once you get comfortable with that you can add some weight, you can use a backpack with some weight in it if you have no weights. Even start with a kettle bell if you have one. I'm not sure about the PM miles on steep downhills, I imagine that would be very tough on the legs and might be something you want to approach carefully.

    As for the calves, I find self massage to be really useful. Basically, in a seated position cross one leg onto the other so that the ankle is resting on the other knee. Then feel down the calf with your fingers and see if you can find any hotspots/tight places. Then dig your fingers in and flex your foot up and down to try and work out the knots. This is quite aggressive but the harder you can do it the better. Also, I find the "stick" to be better than a foam roller so you can try that too. Lightly stretch the calf afterwards and apply ice to any of the points you massaged if necessary.

    I'm really not sure about the low weight high reps method. Higher weight, lower reps is more beneficial to a runner.

    http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/training/relative-strength-for-distance-runners_68173


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,605 ✭✭✭ultrapercy


    Chivito550 wrote: »
    I'm really not sure about the low weight high reps method. Higher weight, lower reps is more beneficial to a runner.

    http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/training/relative-strength-for-distance-runners_68173

    I think this is often misunderstood and the relative nature of heavy is ignored. If you are just starting a weight programme any weight is in fact heavy. For a true beginner weight that you can rep 10 to 12 times is probably heavy enough and any heavier is over taxing a weak frame. The basic principles of exercise apply build slowly and easily and progress at a steady pace over a prolonged period of time. Lifting too heavy a weight leads to bad form and is counter productive. For someone who has a strong background in lifting (such as yourself) high weight low rep is probably most beneficial. This may sound obvious but how often do you see people in gyms lifting too heavy a weight with incorrect form. In fact correct form is very rare.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,370 ✭✭✭pconn062


    Agree with UP here, I was suggesting bodyweight just to start with as squats done with proper form are difficult enough for a beginner. I only use light weights myself at the minute because that's all I have available. Now that I am starting at the gym I will gradually incorporate higher weights.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,623 ✭✭✭dna_leri


    Nice graphic on a recent study here:

    Injury%2BPrevention.png


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,370 ✭✭✭pconn062


    Proprioception is a concept I am really getting interested in. A simple text is stand on one leg with shoes on and if you lose your balance in under a minute you have issues. So basically you practice working first of all with shoes on, then progress to bare feet, again standing on one leg with eyes closed. Then as you get better with this you can introduce a wobble board/cushion. You can also introduce some rotation or single leg squats while your eyes remain closed. Or, with your eyes open get someone to throw a ball to you while in single leg balance.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,420 ✭✭✭Ososlo


    pconn062 wrote: »
    Proprioception is a concept I am really getting interested in. A simple text is stand on one leg with shoes on and if you lose your balance in under a minute you have issues. So basically you practice working first of all with shoes on, then progress to bare feet, again standing on one leg with eyes closed. Then as you get better with this you can introduce a wobble board/cushion. You can also introduce some rotation or single leg squats while your eyes remain closed. Or, with your eyes open get someone to throw a ball to you while in single leg balance.

    Another good one is to brush your teeth while standing on one foot with your eyes closed. I couldn't do it at all to start with and can now do the whole process no problem without falling over and without getting toothpaste all over the place after a few months of practice! Can be messy to start with!


  • Registered Users Posts: 615 ✭✭✭KillianByrne


    Ososlo wrote: »
    Another good one is to brush your teeth while standing on one foot with your eyes closed. I couldn't do it at all to start with and can now do the whole process no problem without falling over and without getting toothpaste all over the place after a few months of practice! Can be messy to start with!

    Challenge accepted!


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,742 ✭✭✭ultraman1


    Ososlo wrote: »
    Another good one is to brush your teeth while standing on one foot with your eyes closed. I couldn't do it at all to start with and can now do the whole process no problem without falling over and without getting toothpaste all over the place after a few months of practice! Can be messy to start with!

    Save uv no teeth?


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,272 ✭✭✭Dubgal72


    ultraman1 wrote: »
    Save uv no teeth?

    Do your mascara....


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,694 ✭✭✭Chivito550


    pconn062 wrote: »
    Agree with UP here, I was suggesting bodyweight just to start with as squats done with proper form are difficult enough for a beginner. I only use light weights myself at the minute because that's all I have available. Now that I am starting at the gym I will gradually incorporate higher weights.

    Oh absolutely. I wasn't suggesting heavy weights right away. It's the 2 sets of 30 reps I was disagreeing with. Far too many reps.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,370 ✭✭✭pconn062


    http://www.runnersworld.com/workouts/nikes-strength-workout-for-runners

    Good link here to a strength routine from Bowerman Track Club S+C coach, Pascal Dowber. Seen a lot of talk on the goals thread about strength and conditioning and this seems like a good plan for people to start with as it requires no special equipment or a gym.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,370 ✭✭✭pconn062


    pconn062 wrote: »
    Thought I'd post up a rough outline of what I do. I basically have two different sets that I alternate on different days.

    Day 1

    Squats w/light weight (2x30 reps)
    Single leg squats w/light weight (2x10 on each leg)
    Eccentric hamstring Single leg RDL (10 reps per leg)
    Anterior tibialis stretch against wall (3x15 reps)
    Balance exercises, proprioception on wobble cushion

    Day 2


    Bridge (2x10)
    Single leg bridge (10 reps on each leg)
    Plank (4x30 secs)
    Side plank (2x30 secs per side)
    Balance exercises

    Stretching and foam rolling on both days as well.

    Even with all that I still get regular injuries! :)

    Started a new programme in the gym yesterday which focuses more on heavier weights with less reps so that might help too.

    Just reading back on some of the old posts in this thread and I seen my own S+C plan posted from April. Soon after that I did a 3 session course with Colin Griffin in the SSC about strength and conditioning and got a plan put together. Seen as I'm not running at the minute and I have lots of time to think about these things I thought I would post my current plan. This plan was put together for me based on tests we did to determine my specific weak areas (adductors, weak lateral hip stabilisers). The weights posted are current and were less when I started.

    Warm up (movement)

    Theraband side-step: 2x20 steps
    Theraband hip rotation: 2x10 reps
    Hip flexor holds: 5x5 secs per leg
    Single leg balance reaches: 2x6 per leg
    Penguin Steps: 2x20 steps
    Clam Shells with theraband: 2x15 per leg
    Side lying leg raises w/theraband: 2x15 per leg
    Hip hikes: 2x25 per leg

    Main session


    Goblet squats: 3x8 @ 20kg
    Deadlift: 3x4 @ 60kg, 1x4 @ 65kg
    Squats: 1x@ 30kg, 2x6 @ 35kg
    Step up: 2x6 per leg with Olympic bar
    RDL: 2x6 per leg with 15kg
    Isometric Quad Hold: 4x10 secs per leg, 20kg
    Calf raises on leg press machine: 4x8 per leg @ 30-40kg

    Looks like a lot but it only takes about an hour to do. I also do the "Warm up" part at home maybe one other day a week. I was only doing it one day a week, but since I got injured I have been doing it twice a week and have noticed some improvement (although injury is still present). Will know when I get back running if it has helped.


  • Registered Users Posts: 703 ✭✭✭happygoose


    You can't beat a good Yann Le Meur infographic. He has some great material on the importance of S&C in all sports and a lot of it refers specifically to athletics.

    S&C seems to be overlooked by a lot on here. I think there's a fear factor and the thought that it's something that'll be hard to get into, easy to get wrong, something for track and field, something that'll lead to weight gains, something that'll get people injured. It's actually easy to get into and easy to make progress in. You'd need the help and advice of a proper S&C coach though, ideally one who knows athletics and is aware of your goals, one that can spend an hour a month with you addressing technique and spotting weaknesses etc.

    A good S&C coach will:

    1. Assess functional movement and prescribe some stretching and some movements that will address weaknesses.
    2. Carry out some one rep max testing every 8 weeks.
    3. Prescribe a periodised programme based on the goals of the individual.

    A typical programme will have two different sessions a week.

    A periodised programme will consist of -
    An anatomical adaptation phase, where you become generally conditioned (maybe 8 exercises per session (16 in total during the week), 3 sets, 10-12 reps at 50-60% 1RM).
    A strength phase (6 exercises per session, 3 sets, 5-6 reps at 75%-90% 1RM)
    A power phase will more exercises of lesser weights, which coincides with the competition period.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,825 ✭✭✭IvoryTower


    I do my own thing once a week based on a mix of what the internet tells me and exercises I like doing. I always do the leg part, the rest depends on how much time and energy I have

    Legs:
    Jumping squats &/or weighted Squats
    Lunges
    Romanian deadlift
    calf raises

    Core:
    Hanging Legs raise, planks, sit ups

    Upper body:
    pulls ups, press ups, shoulder press, dips


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  • Registered Users Posts: 11,394 ✭✭✭✭Timmaay


    S&C is something I've started to take a lot more seriously here, I've got a basic enough session here once a week at the second, some very useful info on this thread that I'll have to read in depth over Xmas!


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