This is really what got me interested in running at the first place. When I was body building and weighing 100kg, I realised that playing with sport specific drills, specific strength and conditioning, sleep, rest and recovery, nutrition and hydration, I can prepare to play any sports at quite high level. I put my theories into action as during the university years I was able to access all movement cultures. Team sports like soccer, volleyball and basketball. Extreme sports like skateboarding and aggressive roller skating. Outdoor sports as rock climbing, ice climbing, speed hiking and skiing. Individual sports like running, judo, kick-box, gymnastics and even dance.
My observations, research and practice were confirming that despite the body-type athletes have, extremely high performance can be achieved, if enough emphasis is pushed towards sport specific strength and conditioning and the associated lifestyle routines.
The associated Power
Can you see these two guys ? I could have included the photo of Cameron Hanes and Max King too, to improve contrast. These athletes have extreme difference in case of overall weight and muscle mass, however all of them are obstacle course champions ! We talk about 30000usd prize money winners, not the local tough mudder sausage contest. In the meantime Max King practices steeple chase, 100km road races and ultra trail events. Cam Hanes do bow hunting for days on end with no food and runs 200 miler races. Jon Albon is winning everything in sky running and Hunter prepares for the overall crossfit title.
Jumping successfully between disciplines made possible by specific strength training. Running is no different and a regular routine is key to constant health and improvements.
The how to strength train for runners
Rule No1. Unless you are at the very beginning of the season and far out from any competition, you should never strength train on a way that it makes you sore.
Rule No2. Regardless where you are at in your training cycle, you should never strength train on a way, that it alters your running form and stride.
Despite that you won't feel the DOMS after a heavy deadlift session, it can and will change how your posture, breathing and running goes.
The target audience of this article is not professional athletes, who have time and possibility to strength train every single day with a qualified coach. More likely the busy athlete, who works part time or full time, have family and other commitments.
Strength training can be actually part of warming up and cooldown. I like to teach broom stick drills to runners. It costs like 2bucks. Squatting first overhead, on the back, on the front. Lunges on the back or over head, forwards and back wards. Side bands and twists, on the back and over head. Deadlifts and straight leg dead lifts. Jefferson curls. Paddling drills. Lat pulls and bent over rows. 5 minutes of movement practice with focus on joint angles, breathing, form and depth. Another 5 minutes adding a breathing device, like ultra-breathe or the training mask to turn on the lungs, but to really engage the stabilising muscles and to turn on intra abdominal pressure and engage the core.
This whole system can serve as a post workout stretching too ! 10 to 15minutes and upper body, lower body, core and stabilisers, all done !
Of course, yoga, power pilates, mobility and other bodyweight practices all can come here. Balance board, indian clubs, planks and isometric holds, skipping ropes, hoola-hoops, elliptical machine, rowing machine, light aerobics.
I feel that light body weight movements with extreme focus and breathing techniques are great bang for your bucks. Box breathing for squatting. 5 counts inhale down, 5 counts hold. 5 counts exhale up, 5 counts hold. See how many of these slow movements could you do. You can do Wim Hof pushups on both ways. 30 inhale focused hyperventilation to expel CO2, then fully exhale or fully inhale. While holding your breath, you start doing pushups.
You can include O2 / CO2 dive practice tables into your strength routines. Free divers use these kind of techniques to improve CO2 tolerance, what can translate into lactic acid tolerance and buffering.
Plyometrics, pushups and pullups or kettlebell training are great. I advise to disassociate these from hard running and to limit the intensity. While they are necessary and beneficial for explosive sports, for distance running they function as a strategic complementary exercise and part of lifestyle. Everyone should know how to jump, land, roll, bound, throw, climb, crawl and combine these. Time to time, but not as a main training set.
Workout snacks are prescribed, finally, by many coaches. Install a pull up bar and leave kettlebells and other instruments around your house. Anytime you pass under or go near, do one rep or one set. Guess what, cleaning the house can become enjoyable and more creative. Last time my athlete did 80 squats, 120 deadlifts and 100 pull ups in a day. No soreness, no pain, no problems. Some of them were bodyweight, some of them with a KB. He also switches between chair, stability ball and standing for his work.
Olympic lifting, power clubs, body building. The movement is very effective and while it needs extreme amount of focus, concentration and knowledge, it can be an interesting part of training.
Hill repeats, 3 times in 14 days. 20 to 60seconds. Kenyan hills of 200 to 1600m. Mixed routines of lunges and sprints, deadlifts and sprints, skipping rope and endurance set, hill bounding and other torture exercises. These are your most important strength routines.
Stair climbing with high cadence. On the front, on the left, on the right. By 1, By 2, By 3 steps. Skipping up and jumping up. Taking out the hurdles and the ladder and getting used to increasing knee drive, heel lift, leg speed.
For trail running, I love giving out short 15 to 60second steep uphill climbing reps with hiking poles, heavy boots and a heavy pack. They are very efficacious. I started implementing these with road running athletes and they are amazed about the power it gives to them. There is something confidence boosting about carrying a heavy object up a hill.
Running 1km moderately with a weight vest, then going for 400s. That is also a great workout.
If you needed a full description or advice on one particular routine, please comment down below and I will prepare a short video to show you how it looks like. The variety and the possibilities of how including any sort of strength and conditioning into your athletic development is endless.
You should not forget that anything else than running is not the goal of yours. Anything that hinders your running or takes time away from running should be limited. This is why hill sprints, downhill running, athletic educatifs, breathing, core work, motivation, balance, hip strength and all run related are your most important focuses.