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  • Weight Training for XC runners

    Now I know I'm probably asking for trouble here. But I was wondering people's thoughts about weight lifting/strength workouts for distance runners.

    I do have a background in strength training and training theory, but in practice I've never worked with distance runners.

    What are some things that people here have done that they've found to be of benefit. Also what have people tried that they have found does NOT work?

    Thanks for any insight!

  • #2
    Re: Weight Training for XC runners

    Dear Young coach,

    For me as an athlete I was put on a strength training program in my very early season preparation. For me it was not effective and I felt it slowed recovery and strained my other systems. I feel that light plyometrics and some light pushups, sit ups, medicine ball toss is a far better formula but only as a secondary to the endurance training, never ahead. For me running is the best way to improve running performance. That is my personal experience and not scientific research.

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    • #3
      Re: Weight Training for XC runners

      I know I have read on this very board by some really famous coaches that say, in essence, weight training is a waste of the very time - they could be running. Contrarian that I am, I believe, and have my own empirical evidence (and absolutely zero scientific proof) that ALL athletes that are well clear of puberty, should be on some kind of weight program, IF they wish to excell in ANY kind of athletic endeavor. Baseball and boxing both used to believe that weight training was bad for their sport and have now found otherwise. Distance runners will eventually learn this as well, even if, yes it does add mass. I'm not talking about powerlifting here. I'm talking about a good circuit training regimen that makes you sweat while it builds muscle strength and endurance.

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      • #4
        Re: Weight Training for XC runners

        Most runners would benefit more from doing another run instead of going in the weight room. cross country= aerobic ability. how do you develop that? By running. A lot.

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        • #5
          Re: Weight Training for XC runners

          Doesn't bone density develop better with weight training than just running? And at what point does one put in TOO much running and pass the point of diminishing returns. Stress fractures and other joint/tissue damage are a factor. Perhaps weight training should simply be looked at as an excellent cross-training device, when one does NOT want to run 200 miles a week.

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          • #6
            Re: Weight Training for XC runners

            I am finding that you have to be very careful during this time of the year (XC). There are a lot of training things going on, and an injury is always ready to set you (me) back. This is the time of year to increase the mileage to a high level (base), start doing the weight (light/high reps), reintroduce the PLYO sessions, begin occaissional hill repeats, and begin the Tempo workouts. How do you fit in the proper Rest Days (easy running/or off) in the mix? Hopefully, you have a good coach with an established background to lead you through this workout matrix. If not, listen to your body!

            Back to the Weight question. Shoot for 2-3 30 minute sessions in the weight room. For me, that time includes sit ups, push ups, and mostly dumbbells. I used to spend more time there, way back in college (to impress the gals probably) but now find it more beneficial to work on the easy running more often.

            Good luck with your program.

            ty

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            • #7
              Re: Weight Training for XC runners

              Thanks for the input.

              I'm a big believer in event type training. For instance, XC kids do alot of distance running (duh)and don't need to use their anaerobic energy system as much as a sprinter or thrower.

              Keeping this in mind, I haven't been killing the kids in the weight room. Actually we haven't been in the weight room at all, we do alot of body weight, general strength circuits. In my limited experience, this seems to work fairly well.

              Although I've heard many coaches argue the "energy system" training theory, i.e. Distance kids don't need any type of sprint work, throwers don't need any type of distance work. I would generally disagree when working with high school kids. I like developing a general fitness level as well as event driven training.

              Any other comments? They are greatly appreciated!

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              • #8
                Re: Weight Training for XC runners

                "I would generally disagree when working with high school kids. I like developing a general fitness level as well as event driven training."

                You are already wise beyond your years. High School is exactly the time to inculcate a life-long pursuit of general fitness. The older you get and the greater your ambitions to excel in one particular pursuit will skew your training more in one direction, but the total fitness thing MUST still remain. Shot putters who never do anything aerobically are in for trouble. Marathoners who do no muscular training are in for trouble.

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                • #9
                  Re: Weight Training for XC runners

                  Regarding energy systems, at some point in every runing race, you should become a sprinter.
                  Not that the fastest rested will outsprint everyone else, but in a crowded XC finish, :03 over the last 400m can mean alot of points!
                  I agree with your idea- never ignore any energy systems.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Weight Training for XC runners

                    The Ethiopians do tons of calisthenics and core work. Look how good their women's running form is compared to that of the Kenyans.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Weight Training for XC runners

                      Sorry guys, calistetics and core work is not weight training.

                      If you wish to know what to do, look to see what the best do and then apply what you can to your own program.

                      If you wish to produce runners who get lapped in the world championships, then continue to do what we are doing.

                      Ask Frank Shorter, Bill Rogers, Craig Virgin (who won the world cross champs) if they ever did any weight training when they were at their best.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Weight Training for XC runners

                        No, ask the Ethiopians what they're doing! :-)

                        I didn't mean to imply that calisthenics are weight training. But some kind of strength training IS important. Spending a lot of time in the weight room is not.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Weight Training for XC runners

                          You might find it interesting to read about Percy Cerruty and his training methods. As I recall, he included weight training in his runners' programs, along with his infamous sand dune workouts.
                          In terms of general fitness for younger runners, the proper use of weight training can develop functional strength as well as increasing important tendon and ligament strength. The strength programs should be individualized in accord with the athlete's needs and goals.
                          Along the same lines, hill running can be very beneficial or distructive, depending upon technique and programing.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Weight Training for XC runners

                            In "Lore of Running", Dr Tim Noakes says one universal rule of running is that strength training is beneficial. Even ultra-marathoner Yiannis Kuoros improved into his 30s and 40s after adding strength training.

                            However, how you train for strength appears to be the argument here.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Weight Training for XC runners

                              >You might find it interesting to read about Percy
                              >Cerruty and his training methods. As I recall, he
                              >included weight training in his runners'
                              >programs, along with his infamous sand dune
                              >workouts.
                              I have spoken to one of Percy's athletes (Percy sadly passed away) and he followed the weight training for some time: they would often lift very very heavy weights. He did however run all of his PB's from 3-10k the year he gave up the wieght training and added an extra 50k per week to his volume (taking it from 160k/week to 200-220k/week) But he says that he will never know if the weights made him strong enough to handle the extra volume??? He does know that he would not have handled the 200k weeks and the Cerutty weights at the same time. Incidently he has a 27:38/10k road PB from the 70's.

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