Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Playing Catch Up

I feel like every single time I open up Runners World or Triathlete magazine a new article pops up raving about the benefits of strength training for endurance athletes. Like really, that stuff actually works? Your times can get faster? The traditional endurance community seems to be playing catch up with everything we've been discussing...

The article that I came across yesterday was in the July 2013 issue of Triathlete called  "Jump Around." The discussion revolved around a new study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning (pretty solid scholarly journal) where they explored the effects of plyometric training exercises and their impact on running performance. The baseline for the two groups in the study was a 5K Time Trial. If you're an endurance coach you should have this pegged down on all your athletes and yes it should always be improving for one of the three factors of performance are affected - remember sleep, nutrition, programming. Anyways, the study took these two groups and had them on different training protocols. One group did running only and the other group did running and body weight plyometrics, box jumps being one of the primary movements. What they found is that the plyometric group ran 25% less, added the plyometrics and recevied the same results. The end of the article said it all "Give these exercises a shot you may just find that when you DROP your MILEAGE, you also DROP TIME.

Obviously you catch my drift where I am going with this? I do have to take a stab at the traditional path once in a while just because it seems some folks are wearing blinders. I am and will always be under the impression that training is never a one size fits all approach. If I did believe that I wouldn't be a coach. The best coaches know how to read their athletes meaning stop them when their over training and provide confidence coupled with motivation when its needed. By adding strength training different muscle fibers are called on that you just don't get from running. Any time you can recruit in different muscular patterns its a good thing. The body adapts. The goal in training is to not let it get comfortable, but provide enough different senses focused on the athletes weaknesses at the right times. I do have to laugh at one quote from the article though "When you maximize muscle recruitment, you're able to turn your legs over faster (YES) and push off harder (NOT AT ALL). Remember to pull people!!

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