Strength Training and Running Economy


There is an emerging awareness that resistance or strength training can help athletes in typically aerobic sports. However, less attention has been given to the importance of strength training for endurance runners. While some trainers have recognized the benefits of varied workouts for runners, research in the area has been limited. Recently, though, a group of researchers found a creative way to investigate the effects of strength training despite the relatively small number of studies in the area.

To see whether resistance training benefitted endurance runners, the researchers combined and analyzed data from a number of previous studies involving trained endurance runners. The analysis, published in 2008 in Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found that endurance runners who underwent strength training exhibited heightened running economy, improved long-distance performance, or both. But what exactly is running economy? Running economy, or RE, is related to efficiency. Someone with a higher RE will run faster over a given distance and use less oxygen to do so. Basically, a high RE means that your body is able to process energy more efficiently, delaying the onset of fatigue. In other words, RE is another way of measuring fitness and performance. So what the study found was that the runners in the trials displayed increased performance and fitness. Strength training combined with aerobic training helped these runners go faster and farther than aerobic training alone.

Still, the lack of research has some implications for applications in workouts. Far more research is available for untrained runners than for trained runners, so the different effects of various types of strength training are not yet available. In addition, there has yet to be an investigation into the benefits of a long-term strength training program, as most of the studies were focused on short intervals of training. Finally, most of the studies did not keep records of the runners' aerobic workouts. Thus, there are few guidelines on the best way to coordinate aerobic and strength training.

While more research is needed, Prime Personal Training can help fill the gap. The authors of the study recommended incorporation of structured, individualized strength training into the workouts of endurance runners. Our experienced trainers can provide both the structure and the individual attention that a serious athlete needs. We can monitor your gains and fitness and adjust your training regimen until we find the combination that is right for you.

Strength training isn't just for bodybuilding; it can help raise fitness and performance even in long-distance running. A good strength training program can make you stronger, make your body more efficient, and increase your endurance. These are gains that transfer to any sport or physical activity. Sign up for personal training at Prime Personal Training and we can use strength training to help you meet your goals.




Yamamoto LM, Lopez RM, Klau JF, Casa DJ, Kraemer WJ, Maresh CM. 2008. The effects of resistance training on endurance distance running performance among highly trained runners: A systematic review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 22(6): 2036-2044.