Strength For Runners

Why Strength Training For Distance Running?

  • Injury prevention
  • General strength
  • Enhance mobility and flexibility
  • Improve running technique
Develop aerobic capacity with consideration of the anaerobic energy system

Transfer of Training Affect

Improve running performance by specific training for distance running.

For example, if improved performance in training does not positively reflect in the ability of specific sport performance then the transfer from training to the field is low.

Choosing the proper training modalities (exercises) and dose allows a greater transfer of training which yields greater event application.


Strength Training For Distance Runners

Strength training for distance runners can be addressed in many forms. Traditional weight training, medicine ball throws, sprint drills, bodyweight training and circuit training with various exercises are the most common forms of strength training.

Weight Training Workout Plan

Olympic Lifting

Sample Exercises: Clean, Jerk, Snatch, Push Press

Pre-season: 4 sets x 5 reps (up to 70%)- In season: 4 sets x 3 reps (up to 80%)- Peak: 4 sets x 2 reps (up to 60%)

Upper Body and Lower Body

Sample Upper Body Exercises: Bench, Incline, Bent rows Sample Lower Body Exercises: Squat, Step ups, Lunges

Pre-season: 4 sets x 8 reps (up to 70%)- In season: 4 sets x 6 reps (up to 80%)- Peak: 2 sets x 5 reps (up to 60%)

Medicine Ball Throws

Sample Exercises: Chest pass, Shot put throw, Overhead throw for distance, Squat and throw for height

Pre-season: x100 throws- In-season: x60 throws- Peak: x30 throws

Sprint Drills

Sample Exercises: A skips, B skips, Skip for height, Lunges forward, Lunges backward, Lunges sideways, High knee running

Pre-season: x800 meters- In-season: x600 meters- Peak: x400 meters

Bodyweight Training

Sample Exercises: Push-ups, Pull-ups, Planks, Sit-ups, Duck walks

Pre-season: x200 reps total- In-season: x100 reps total- Peak: x50 reps total

Circuit Training

Sample Circuit: Dumbbell clean, Dumbbell bench, Step-ups, 24” hurdle hops, Seated chest pass, V-ups

Pre-season: 4 sets x 12 reps- In season: 3 sets x 8 reps- Peak: 2 sets x 5 reps

Training distance runners can include many of these elements in the daily plan:

Weekly Strength Training Plan

For Distance Runners

Daily warm up

Running and training are developed together in the distance running training program.

Pre-workout: sprint drills, hurdle mobility and dynamic flexibility

Sunday Post-workout- Weight training and medicine ball throws

Monday Post workout- Bodyweight training

Wednesday Post workout- Weight training and circuit training

Thursday Post workout- Bodyweight training (pre-season only)

Friday Post-workout- Weight room (pre-season only)

Strength Training Guide

Progress slowly and teach proper technique in all training activities.  Be consistent with strength training activities and understand the long-term benefits for athletic performance.

In addition to track running workouts and long runs on outside the oval, distance runners need some type of strength training.

The running and training program developed by the coach will teach the distance runner how to run faster.

By Scott Cappos (University of Nebraska)
Damon Davis (Auburn University)
Track and Field Strength Training Experts


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