Strength Training for Endurance Athletes

If you are an endurance athlete who wants to perform to a higher level then Strength & Conditioning training is vital. It will not only mean you can be more successful at your sport, it will minimise your chances of picking up an injury and disrupting your training schedule.

Strength and Conditioning is a Sports Medicine service delivered by fully accredited coaches, who’s primary goal is to improve a person’s physical or athletic performance. 

We create specific training plans, using the latest research and our learned scientific knowledge, to enhance your training plan so you can achieve your chosen sporting goals.

Typically, when we see endurance athletes, the individualised program will include strength and power training, and mobility and balance work. Combined these aspects can improve your overall performance in sporting events such as marathons or triathlons, for example. 

What are the benefits of Strength & Conditioning? #

The key objectives of any endurance event training program are:

  • to stay injury free 
  • achieve your race goals, be they a personal best, season best or simply completing the race

Strength and Conditioning has been shown to significantly improve athletes’ current endurance abilities by improving the efficiency of the musculoskeletal system and, more generally, condition the body to the demands of training and the event itself.

Strength and power training in particular have been shown to reduce the amount of energy a person spends on each step, stroke or pedal revolution — depending on your chosen sport. This means that less demand is put on the cardiovascular system, so you are able to perform at your best for longer. 

You’re also more likely to maintain the optimal form when running, cycling or swimming which will reduce the impact of any imbalances from previous injuries, and lower your chances of developing any new injuries.

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Can Strength & Conditioning help with injury prevention? #

The reality remains that anyone preparing for an endurance event is likely to suffer some form of injury, be it a minor disruption to training or a major issue that prevents you from making the start line. 

But don’t worry, there are ways to decrease your chances of picking up an injury. Even something as simple as a quick warm-up before running or swimming can make a significant difference to injury incidence. You might be thinking I’m already pushed for time, how can I fit in a warm-up?!’ This is a fair and valid point, and we we will get to it shortly…

But key to programs that reduce risk of injury, is the individualisation of said program. If it has been created around you, your body, injury history, specific goal, sport and schedule, then you are far more likely to perform at your best during your training and on race day, and far less likely to injure yourself. 

We also help you get stronger which is a tried and tested tool against injury. Often physiotherapy treatments that work to strengthen an injured body part are so successful they remove the need for surgical intervention because the surrounding muscles and tissues become strong enough to protect the affected area. This reduces your recovery time dramatically. 

Training for an endurance race is often an endurance test in itself, and you might be worried about becoming bored or unmotivated with your training. A big upside to having an Strength and Conditioning coach is that your program will never look the same throughout. A personalised program changes with you, when you need it, and your coach can advise when and what to change based on your progress. 

We might also adapt your training to account for any niggles or pain that you feel during training to avoid those developing in to full injuries and keep you on track to achieve your goal.

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How do I fit Strength Training in to an already busy schedule? #

Aside from the training advice, this is one of the most commonly asked questions we hear in clinic. Fitting in a demanding training schedule in to an already busy diary is challenging, there is no doubt about it. It all comes down to organisation.

The good news is that a Strength & Conditioning Coach can help. 

We see many athletes who need to fit their training schedule around full time jobs, family schedules and other commitments. We can show you how to get the most out of the time, facilities and resources that you have so you can achieve your goal and maintain your lifestyle.

The key is to maximize the efficiency of training, ensuring the right sessions are performed on the correct day so each training session, and recovery day, are as effective as possible.

Seeking a specialist for each specific aspect of your training has its benefits — just ask the pro’s — but it’s important that each element co-exists’ and compliments each other so you are obtaining the maximum benefit from each of them. That is where having one team under one roof comes in very handy. 

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Could a Strength & Conditioning Coach help if I already have a Personal Trainer / Endurance Coach? #

First things first, Personal Trainers and Endurance Coaches are fantastic. If you have these people on your team, that’s great. We’re not saying you have to trade us in for them. On the contrary, working together will only benefit you and your training. 

Often the reason for training can be the deciding factor in who you want on your team. For example, if you’re training for a specific endurance event, or if you’re coming back from injury a Strength and Conditioning coach can provide sport-specific and injury-specific support. 

We are specialists in preparing individuals for certain sporting events and are specifically qualified to enable athletes to perform better in their chosen event or sport, no matter their starting point, and so can provide an integral part of the training process. 

Your Endurance coach may have set you the ideal series of sessions to build your endurance for the race, and in this case a Strength and Conditioning coach’s role is to ensure that you are able to perform those sessions optimally and avoid associated injury from overreaching.

What would a Strength and Conditioning program include? #

There is no one-size-fits-all with Strength and Conditioning, so to be sure exactly what your program would include you would need to speak to an S&C Coach. But generally speaking we have many tools at our disposal to help endurance athletes such as yourself achieve your goals. 

For starters, we would conduct physiological assessments of your fitness levels so we can see what our starting point is so we can, 1) measure your progress as we go, and 2) determine what steps we need to take in order to help you succeed.

We would also provide a movement and strength assessment. This will show us how you’re moving, if there are any imbalances that could be causing problems or areas of weakness that we could work to rectify. 

We would also need to talk about any previous injuries you’ve experienced as they could still be affecting your movement or training now, and they could be at a higher risk of those injuries coming back as your training ramps up. So we would want to prioritise those areas during your program. 

Our program may be your main program, but it could also be a complimentary addition to your current training program, if you have one, either set by yourself or your Endurance Coach. The program we create for you would have the two main aims of preventing injuries and enhancing your performance.

Throughout the time working together we would offer advice on organising your training schedule in order to get the most benefit out of it, again, around your other commitments. This way you can be sure that all elements are being addressed, including recovery time, which is as important as your physical training. 

In addition to all of the above, we can also offer nutritional advice. Training your gut is a huge part of endurance sport training. It is one of the most common areas we see people ignore or deprioritise when training for either a marathon or triathlon, and it is also one of the most beneficial areas to consider. Your nutrition plan could be the difference between hitting and not hitting your next PB. But you need to make sure your gut is ready for what you’ll feed it, and when, on race day, so its important to include it as part of your physical training program. 

So there you have it — all the possible reasons you have to get a Strength and Conditioning coach on your team. We understand what you’re taking on and about to go through. Having someone who understands and can give you real life experience and tried and tested advice will be a true asset to your training.

Above all else, we want you to enjoy the process and the event, because it’s an incredible challenge and achievement, so we’ll be cheering you on every step of the way!

If you’re training for a marathon, triathlon or any type of endurance event, get in touch with us today to see how our Strength & Conditioning coaches can help you. Click the button below to get started.

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