Saturday, May 21, 2011

Strength in Training

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There are many very basic differences in the training philosophies of Arthur Lydiard and Percy Cerutty. One area in which they differ is in regards to weight training. Lydiard did not believe it was necessary,Cerutty thought weight,and more specifically, what he referred to as strength training, were essential if an athlete wished to reach his full potential.Strength training to Cerutty was more than lifting weights,it also included cross-country, mountain walking and running,swimming,as well as using a gym rope and horizontal bar. I believe that strength training is a needed component to a runner's workout routine,especially if they are seeking competitive success.He wrote this in Athletics:How To Become a Champion: "The athlete who confines all his training to running around a track with occasional outings over the country must be limited in experience, variation,enjoyment and the development of strength(power) in comparison with the athlete who bases his training on regular visits to the weight-training venue,the gym,the coastal regions and hilly places,the sand hills,beaches,deserts and the high mountains. This all adds up to power--the mental and physical power that is behind fast running as we practice it.Power(strength) has always been behind fast running,although weak people prefer to dissect technique as if technique alone is all that is required to enable a weak man to run a mile in four minutes. Technique is an important factor but technique today is useless against the athlete who is supported by technique plus power(strength)." Herb Elliott once said: "My golden rule was to train for mental toughness." Something that is overlooked in strength training is the mental strength and confidence that comes from such training. Sure, you will become stronger and less likely to succumb to injury because of strength training,but, we must not ignore the important mental benefits that will be gained. There is something to be said about the way you feel when you are able to pick it up in the last part of a race knowing that no one else has done the kind of strength work you have done.


  1. I think strength training provides much needed variety in terms of keeping key muscles from not getting too used to doing the same thing over an over. It helps correct any muscle imbalances, prevents injuries, keeps things interesting, and helps one assimilate more readily to more training volume. I think everyone can benefit from it and I am surprised when I see runners logging 125 miles a week without any form of cross training/weights.

  2. Good point---ever notice when you're reading the running mags how many stories and blurbs there are about elite U.S. distance runners being in a state of either getting injured,being injured or recovering from an injury? How much strength conditioning are they doing? Some will say--well the Africans don't do strength work, but, their whole life has been one of developing strength through their enviroment,lifestyle and living at altitude.