Three Ways That Strength and Conditioning Can Impact Running Performance

If I asked you to give me your definition of the word “athlete”, what would your response be?

Would it be…

  1. “Someone who competes in a sport/event?”

  2. “Someone who is ‘fit’ or ‘in shape’?”

  3. “Someone who is able to complete a given number of a specific task?”

  4. “Someone who is capable of completing most required physical tasks and is adaptable to any physical surrounding or situation?”

All options could be considered but option D is the best because it can include all of the material in A-C. By having a broader movement skill set and a higher physical capacity through strength training, you are able to adapt to your running program more effectively. By stabilizing key areas and mobilizing at crucial joints through a diverse set of movements, we can greatly increase performance by something as simple as moving better.

Through a properly designed/implemented strength and conditioning program, running performance can be impacted by the following:

  1. Durability

Showing up to the starting line and doing so uninjured is the first step to performing well. Simply put, a stronger, more stable runner is less likely to be injured throughout training and competition. Stability through your core and hips allow you to safely execute your own best running technique with solid posture, alignment, and control. During strength and conditioning training, you will experience movements and planes of movements that will force you to stabilize your body in a variety of ways. By becoming more proficient at stabilization, the requirements placed on the hip/core during running will be far less physically taxing.

     2. Power

Power is the combination of strength and speed, which is a term that is typically used to describe an athlete. As endurance athletes, our strongest attribute is our endurance,but an increase in power output allows us to .When we think of endurance, we typically think of “how long can you go?”.  By adding power into the equation and saying “how long can we go and be consistently powerful?” we change the definition in a major way. Let me use a familiar GPS watch function, ground contact time (GCT), to explain my point. GCT is measured in milliseconds, which indicates that you have a very small amount of time to apply force to the ground to move you farther down your route. By adding both speed and strength to your training (speed + strength = power!), it will directly impact your running performance. The runner who maintains the highest level of power for the longest period of time experiences the most success.

    3. Running Economy

There are many factors to that go into running economy. The most basic component of running economy is the ability to move well. The ability to move well is a skill that is based off of the positions that we frequent most and the interventions that we use to combat those daily positions. For example, if we have a job that requires us to spend the majority of the day in a seated position, our hip is in a flexed position for hours on end. Proper running technique requires us to put our hip into an extended position as we stride forward. To achieve this position to the optimal level, we must add mobility and strength training to hip extension. If we do not mobilize or strength train this pattern, we are asking a lot of our anatomy to achieve this position given our daily positions. By achieving the movement prerequisites of running, then stabilizing and strengthening those positions, we are able to realize our running technique potential. As we practice the optimal technique in our running training, it takes us less energy per stride to keep up with our goal paces. Increased running economy translates to moving well and using less energy throughout a race. Use the same effort in training, but achieve greater results!

Interested in becoming a more complete athlete and improving your run training and race day performance?  Contact us today and see why so many members of the endurance community choose Iron City Elite for their performance training.  

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