Oct 022010

Explosive type strength training enhances running performance

A study done on endurance athletes by Finnish scientists at the Research Institute for Olympic Sports suggests that athletes who compete in endurance events can gain a competitive edge without increasing their training volume, but by substituting up to 20% of their endurance work with high-intensity intervals and explosive strength drills.

Often, athletes will neglect to consider the fact that endurance events will repeatedly draw on their anaerobic energy pathways; such as during a sprint to the finish line, while trying to pass another competitor and drop them, or even competing on a hilly course.

My take on this – This study is a reenforcement of the rule of specificity – where if one wants to train for a particular event, one should replicate the demands of that particular event with their training to acclimatize their body to the stresses it demands. By including these explosive strength drills, you will be training your energy systems as well as your muscles for race day.

Why long, slow training runs may be best after all

A study done by Spanish researchers suggests that it is best for runners to spend most of their training at low-intensities (below 60% VO2max). The report suggests that total training time spent at low intensities was associated with improved performance in highly intense endurance events.

The research was done on a group of runners that trained for both 5k and 10k races. The results grouped the total cumulative time spent by each runner in zone 1(below 60% VO2max), zone 2(60-85% VO2max) and zone 3 (above 85% VO2max). The findings indicate 2 key points:

1) The runners spent most (71%) of their training time in zone 1, 21% in zone 2,  and only 8% of the time in zone 3.

2) The total time spent in zone 1 was linked to improved performance in both the 5k and 10k distances, but particularly in the 10k race.

This suggests that time spent training at low-intensity is a contributing factor towards improved performance during high intensity events. This indicates that, similarly to how one must pace them-self during a 10k race to avoid over-burning too early, one must also pace themselves throughout their training period.

My take on this – I believe that the study shows that when training for a particular event, it is important to consider how all the workouts are associated to one another. Training for a high intensity race does not mean that an athlete should only train with high intensity workouts. While intervals and tempo work will play a key role in performance, they will also stress the body the most. The low-intensity training done in zone 1 serves many functions – it builds fitness, it promotes active recovery, it gives the body time to recover and adapt to the higher intensity training, it improves the aerobic system, and it is a great time to work on technique. These workouts will allow for the athlete to make steady improvements to both fitness and form while avoiding over-training and injury.

I hope you found some of this information useful and can put it to good use.

Happy Training!

Chris Pickering
Triatlhon Coaching – Transiton Myself Training
Progressive Cycling Program – Indoor Rider