Today’s movement is dedicated to the ground-pounding endurance hogs out there—those who’ve logged more miles than an old Chevy and gone through more shoes than the Kardashians.
The gold standard for aerobic capacity is VO2max, which measures how much oxygen the body can consume. But, VO2max by itself never determines who will win a race. There are other factors related to strength that doesn’t get talked about near as much.
Running economy is the amount of energy needed to hold a given speed. It’s essential to running performance because the more economical runner will have more firepower to go harder throughout the race. Related to a vehicle, a car that gets 30-miles per gallon is more economical than one that only gets 20-miles per gallon.
The most significant impact on running economy is body type. It’s believed to be one of the reasons East Africans tend to dominate the distance running scene. Their smaller size and thin limbs require less energy to move them forward (ref).
But, there are also training components for building a better economy. Specifically, training explosively produces muscle and tendon adaptations to improve the muscle’s elastic components to make the body more “springy.”
This allows the body to work less while going at a higher speed.
In a study of well-trained runners, an 8-week strength training program improved strength and running economy. But most important to the runners in this study was the 20% increase in time to exhaustion. Meaning they could go 20% longer when working at their max capacity (ref).
It’s important to note these runners didn’t put on any weight as part of the strength program, which is one of the biggest fears for many runners when it comes to strength training.
Power output generates speed! In fact, a muscle power test called vMART, appears to be a better predictor of running performance than VO2max (ref).
vMART is measured by 20 second runs with a 100-second recovery between the runs. The speed increases each round and goes until exhaustion. Having good aerobic capacity is helpful for this test, but equally important is the ability to generate power under fatigue. A good vMART shows the ability to push faster speeds when the going gets tough.
Research proves that greater power improves speed without increasing cardiovascular demand (ref). And strength training is an integral part of the equation to more powerful running.
Regardless of your goals, strength is the cornerstone of an active and healthy body. If properly structured, it doesn’t hinder running ability but instead boosts running performance (ref).
Thus, regular strength training should be a part of every runner’s routine. If you’re looking for a strength plan for running, look no further than the Crossover Symmetry Training Zone.
You will find a 12-week program in the TOOLBOX that will build you into a stronger and faster runner in just two workouts per week. It’s FREE for everyone, so forward this on to your running friends who’ve been dodging the weight room and in the subject line type…