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Weight Training For Mid Distance Runner?

I’m not even sure if this is the correct forum, but here goes.

Yesterday I was asked by university-level 1500m runner if I could design a weight training program for her. She receives no weight-training coaching from her university. To be honest, while I know weights are beneficial for sprinters and have read some programs for short-distance athletes, I don’t know much about middle distances. Can someone help me or at least point me in the right direction?

There’s also a good probability that all she wants is for me to put my hands all over her sweet, fit little body. I would only be too happy to oblige!

I too am interested in this topic.
Middle-distance running at the collegiate level is just like a long sprint anyway :slight_smile:

I ran for college a few years ago. The events I ran were 800m, sometimes 400m and 1500m. Of course I may be biased, but I think strength training is definitely very helpful in running.

however, one thing i would be very careful about is over training. I know our runners were beat to the ground in just their running. then they made us do pointless lifting, ‘just to lift’ (in my eyes anyway). Alot of our runners got injured and werent running as fast as they should have been.

I think you should see what her current schedule of training is. How she feels, how much more she can put into it, and also see what kind of strength training she already does, like hill sprints, or just hill running in her mileage runs.

I didnt ‘lift’ in highschool, but when i started doing lifts in college, i noticed that running was alot easier and more fluid for me.

i would think any general lifting program for athletes would work for her, like some of defranco’s training. I think for me doing squats, cleans, deadlifts helped alot in the legs, while dips and pullups helped arm strength for the end of runs and races.

let me know what you plan on doing.

as i eventually sometime plan to become a coacb in track and will implement strength training. I might help assist the team here in strength training as well.

I would say that the offseason is a great time for more frequent lifting. And during the season back off of the leg weights and do upperbody work 1 to 2 sessions per week.

Stick to compound movements. I think runners stand to strengthen their upper body to aid in posture and to uncrease running efficiency.

They probably also should focus in the higher rep ranges.

Compound movements should be the bread and butter of their training.

beef

[quote]vvsonikvv wrote:
I ran for college a few years ago. The events I ran were 800m, sometimes 400m and 1500m. Of course I may be biased, but I think strength training is definitely very helpful in running.

however, one thing i would be very careful about is over training. I know our runners were beat to the ground in just their running. then they made us do pointless lifting, ‘just to lift’ (in my eyes anyway). Alot of our runners got injured and werent running as fast as they should have been.

I think you should see what her current schedule of training is. How she feels, how much more she can put into it, and also see what kind of strength training she already does, like hill sprints, or just hill running in her mileage runs.

I didnt ‘lift’ in highschool, but when i started doing lifts in college, i noticed that running was alot easier and more fluid for me.

i would think any general lifting program for athletes would work for her, like some of defranco’s training. I think for me doing squats, cleans, deadlifts helped alot in the legs, while dips and pullups helped arm strength for the end of runs and races.

let me know what you plan on doing.

as i eventually sometime plan to become a coacb in track and will implement strength training. I might help assist the team here in strength training as well.[/quote]

Thanks a lot. I am thinking of using compound lifts, focusing on the legs of course, with highish rep ranges, but not a whole lot of volume.
Her current volume of training is probably high, as this is Japan, and overtraining is the norm.

[quote]beefcakemdphd wrote:
I would say that the offseason is a great time for more frequent lifting. And during the season back off of the leg weights and do upperbody work 1 to 2 sessions per week.

Stick to compound movements. I think runners stand to strengthen their upper body to aid in posture and to uncrease running efficiency.

They probably also should focus in the higher rep ranges.

Compound movements should be the bread and butter of their training.

beef[/quote]

There is no off season over here- no shit! People train for the same sport year in year out. Ironically a lot of Japanese athletes make a jump in their physical capabilities when they are injured and can spend some time in the gym and also rest! True.

if anyone gets pavel’s newsletter’s Dan John dug up some old manual on training distance runners (up to 10000m) that had strength prerequisites of being able to climb a 20ft. rope sans leg help,
Double bodyweight deadlift, and a bodyweight bench press.

[quote]briangoldstein wrote:
if anyone gets pavel’s newsletter’s Dan John dug up some old manual on training distance runners (up to 10000m) that had strength prerequisites of being able to climb a 20ft. rope sans leg help,
Double bodyweight deadlift, and a bodyweight bench press.
[/quote]

Those standards are ridiculous! Do you think Hicham El Guerrouj or the top Kenyans can do those things? I bet they can’t, and yet they dominate at the world level. I can do all of them and my best 10k is only 35:30! What does that tell you about these “prerequisites”?

I would also include a mass of core work, whatever exercises to minimise torque loss in body rotation.

[quote]briangoldstein wrote:
if anyone gets pavel’s newsletter’s Dan John dug up some old manual on training distance runners (up to 10000m) that had strength prerequisites of being able to climb a 20ft. rope sans leg help,
Double bodyweight deadlift, and a bodyweight bench press.
[/quote]

i can do all these =P , anyway, the kenyans probably couldnt do this, though weighing 90lbs… would it be that hard to deadlift 180?

of course other factors come into play for the kenyans, but wouldnt it make sense, a stronger runner will be a better runner? if they kept relatively the same body mass? You can make your muscles ‘denser’? more neurologically adapted?

as my lifts went up i noticed it was easier to run the times that i did… however not all of my times improved. it was just ‘easier’.

and… arent those ‘standards’ some of what most people go by in being ‘athletically fit’ ? bench atleast own weight, squat and dead atleast about 2x weight? maybe thats more for the strength training athlete.

[quote]DonM wrote:
briangoldstein wrote:
if anyone gets pavel’s newsletter’s Dan John dug up some old manual on training distance runners (up to 10000m) that had strength prerequisites of being able to climb a 20ft. rope sans leg help,
Double bodyweight deadlift, and a bodyweight bench press.

Those standards are ridiculous! Do you think Hicham El Guerrouj or the top Kenyans can do those things? I bet they can’t, and yet they dominate at the world level. I can do all of them and my best 10k is only 35:30! What does that tell you about these “prerequisites”?[/quote]

Ok one, they aren’t mine, but if I were coaching runners, they would be. These were also drawn up in a time in America where you could expect that even skinny kids had done some hard work before going to play.
Second, I can actually see a lot of good from that -

  1. Deadlift over squat = more p-chain, grip and abs - all important. abs and p-chain for maintaining stride - the key to speed. Having run a 17:30 5k myself, the beauty of it was for the middle 2.5 miles, I didn’t have to alter my stride. (I sprinted the first and last quarters, 60s I believe both.)
  2. Rope-climb - Grip and back strength is really underated in running. with out good endurance back there - you tense up, altering stride. With out a decent grip, you tense up, altering stride.
  3. Bench Pressin is just fun. Why Hate?

there are 2 take home points -
First, that whoever said athe bit abuotathletic strength was right. this shoud probably be in place before more “advanced” training goes on.

Second, Hicham is Hicham (he actually does Squat and do Lunges in the off season). Do not do what hicham does. Don’t try to do what he did. Elite athletes are elite for a reason, and that is b/c they’ve spent years developing their capacity. The worst thing you could do in training is take a program for someone more advanced and apply verbatim.

Wouldn’t strength training (above a certain percentage) adversely affect capillary density, resulting in a decrease in endurance capacities?

What does everyone think? Do the positives outweigh the negatives with this?

[quote]deanosumo wrote:

Thanks a lot. I am thinking of using compound lifts, focusing on the legs of course, with highish rep ranges, but not a whole lot of volume.
Her current volume of training is probably high, as this is Japan, and overtraining is the norm.

[/quote]

I’d go for more strength and power development. But definitely with lowish volume and just the compound lifts.

[quote]deanosumo wrote:
I’m not even sure if this is the correct forum, but here goes.

Yesterday I was asked by university-level 1500m runner if I could design a weight training program for her. She receives no weight-training coaching from her university. To be honest, while I know weights are beneficial for sprinters and have read some programs for short-distance athletes, I don’t know much about middle distances. Can someone help me or at least point me in the right direction?

There’s also a good probability that all she wants is for me to put my hands all over her sweet, fit little body. I would only be too happy to oblige! [/quote]

The first question a middle distance runner has to answer is whether they are currently limited by their:

a) endurance or
b) speed

If endurance is the issue, strength training still helps because it can greatly increase the efficiency of running as trained tendons will transmit force more efficiently.

As for speed, it really has to be determined if it is due to stride length or frequency.

Outside of form and flexibility, there are four absolute “training” methods/goals which have proven to improve speed:

  1. Plyometrics
  2. Overspeed training
  3. Decrease in bodyfat percentage
  4. Increase static strength in the abs, obliques and lower back muscles.

I would focus on exercises that stress full extension of the legs (a lot of work with bands) and Glute ham raise.

For core, Zercher squats. These can be done with dumbells in the crook of the arm. Or Zercher farmers walks.

I would not start out someone on squats unless there is at least 6 months until competition.

I am not an expert, and have only read some books on the topic, but I think its critical to assess the most glaring weakness.

[quote]mertdawg wrote:

The first question a middle distance runner has to answer is whether they are currently limited by their:

a) endurance or
b) speed

If endurance is the issue, strength training still helps because it can greatly increase the efficiency of running as trained tendons will transmit force more efficiently.

As for speed, it really has to be determined if it is due to stride length or frequency.

Outside of form and flexibility, there are four absolute “training” methods/goals which have proven to improve speed:

  1. Plyometrics
  2. Overspeed training
  3. Decrease in bodyfat percentage
  4. Increase static strength in the abs, obliques and lower back muscles.

I would focus on exercises that stress full extension of the legs (a lot of work with bands) and Glute ham raise.

For core, Zercher squats. These can be done with dumbells in the crook of the arm. Or Zercher farmers walks.

I would not start out someone on squats unless there is at least 6 months until competition.

I am not an expert, and have only read some books on the topic, but I think its critical to assess the most glaring weakness.

[/quote]

When you say stride length this can be related to flexibility but also to power. The more power you have the bigger the distance between ground contacts even if the ROM do not increase i.e. not due to overstriding.

To increase power all the methods you listed are great but the main and simplest one is to increase strength in the relevant muscle groups. Increase your squat by 200lbs and you will be faster no matter what.

i meant to post this the other nite but i guess it didnt go through.

[quote]deanosumo wrote:

There is no off season over here- no shit! People train for the same sport year in year out. Ironically a lot of Japanese athletes make a jump in their physical capabilities when they are injured and can spend some time in the gym and also rest! True.[/quote]

in distance running, from one perspective you can say there is no off season, with maybe a week between seasons here and there… they do run ALL year round, however, do you mean that she RACES all year round? that is kind of different as racing seasons are much much more stressful.

Atleast at university level there is less racing as opposed to HS level. racing is done every other week or so with maybe 7 or 8 race days a season? atleast in the league i ran at.

I think it would be great if you could work with the coach, but if not, atleast find out what the coaches periodization plan is for her. I think most coaches break the year up into parts:

starting with summer- base training -
usually high mileage, with maybe 1 or 2 tuneup races all summer. Some coachs like to do long slow distance to build up pure endurance, while others like medium paced runs at long distances, and other like to throw in hills and maybe repeats, but usually its where everyone builds their ‘base’ mileage.

fall - Cross country season -
where the mileage drops somewhat but is still high, with more faster workouts and intervals. Races are probably 5k, 6k, 8k, or 10k

winter - indoor track season -
this is usually tune up for outdoor track. The mileage drops alot from cross country. There is more work on intervals and speed and faster races at shorter distances, for a 1500m runner, that may be 800m, 1000m, 1500m and maybe 3200m.

spring - outdoor track season-
atleast in the US. this is the big show, where everyone trains for, as times are fastest outdoors. They taper even more for this and run even faster and shorter races. a 1500m runner probably will not run anything longer than 1500m in this season.

See what the coach has her do in those seasons. Generally, i think one should strength train( lift weights?) all year long as if you only lift in the “off season” ( summer) and stop, you lose all the strength and you’ll feel week at the end of cross country.

and especially since she is female, and a mid-distance runner, make sure her diet is on track. all those calories she burns while doing those long workouts and training runs will wipe anyone out. and to add on strength training after that, definitely get adequate calories and nutrients.

also i know alot of our runners, were more concerned with how they looked, then how it helped them in the gym, meaning they wanted to bench big, with bad form, squat heavy doing only qtr squats, clean totally wrong, injuring the back and reverse curling it, and doing eeverything you can imagine wrong.

and also… lifting wont make you bulky and make you slow… i know you know that. just make sure she does too.

I agree with what has been said, but there are a few issues :

  1. Be very careful in applying strength training to distance athletes. There is no direct corelation in the literature between max strength and distance running.

Pylometrics (designed for endurance athletes, i.e. more volume less intensity than for sprinters) have had direct corelations. Now the literature on this subject could be not 100% accurate (bad design etc), but with this in mind, be careful. Supertraining (by Siff) does go over strength training for middle distance athletes and it places a much different emphasis than one would think. (I would definately recommend reading it).

  1. Checking with what her coach has her do on the track is very important. As mentionned above she might already get some strength work ( hills, abs etc). Most distance runners are always nearly overtraining or actually overtraining. Adding in weights into this state is a bad idea.

  2. The diet comment is right on. Especially in relation to iron content. (I can’t tell you how many female endurance athletes i have know who were anemic).

  3. What is she using for recovery modalities/Post-workout? I can’t tell you how many endurance athletes don’t have PW nutrition. The other thing, ice baths are the best for distance runners (removes the swelling).

OK, i have to go. I will write more later.

[quote]creed wrote:
When you say stride length this can be related to flexibility but also to power. The more power you have the bigger the distance between ground contacts even if the ROM do not increase i.e. not due to overstriding.

To increase power all the methods you listed are great but the main and simplest one is to increase strength in the relevant muscle groups. Increase your squat by 200lbs and you will be faster no matter what.
[/quote]

I agree that the way to improve stride length is by increasing power/strength. Increasing flexibility only improves speed if there is a clear lack of flexibility to begin with, however squatting teaches deceleration at full extension. If you have the requisite squatting strength then full extension movements are neurologically superior and can be done all out in season, as opposed to squatting which can slow you down short term.

[quote]mertdawg wrote:

I agree that the way to improve stride length is by increasing power/strength. Increasing flexibility only improves speed if there is a clear lack of flexibility to begin with, however squatting teaches deceleration at full extension. If you have the requisite squatting strength then full extension movements are neurologically superior and can be done all out in season, as opposed to squatting which can slow you down short term.
[/quote]

Good point. That is why bands are good!

And squatting near to the limit of ones strength doesn’t really have that much of a negative effect by way of decceleration because the athlete is straining to lock out the near maximal load.