Strength and Conditioning Habits of Competitive Distance Runners

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Abstract

Blagrove, RC, Brown, N, Howatson, G, and Hayes, PR. Strength and conditioning habits of competitive distance runners. J Strength Cond Res XX(X): 000–000, 2017—Targeted strength and conditioning (S&C) programs can potentially improve performance and reduce injury risk factors in competitive runners. However, S&C practices of distance runners are unknown. This study aimed to explore S&C practices of competitive middle- and long-distance runners and examined whether reported frequency of injuries was influenced by training behaviors. One thousand eight hundred eighty-three distance runners (≥15 years old) completed an online survey. All runners who raced competitively were included in data analysis (n = 667). Distance runners mainly engaged with S&C activities to lower risk of injury (63.1%) and improve performance (53.8%). The most common activities used were stretching (86.2%) and core stability exercises (70.2%). Resistance training (RT) and plyometric training (PT) were used by 62.5 and 35.1% of runners, respectively. Junior (under-20) runners include PT, running drills, and circuit training more so than masters runners. Significantly more international standard runners engaged in RT, PT, and fundamental movement skills training compared with competitive club runners. Middle-distance (800–3,000 m) specialists were more likely to include RT, PT, running drills, circuit training, and barefoot exercises in their program than longer-distance runners. Injury frequency was associated with typical weekly running volume and run frequency. Strength and conditioning did not seem to confer a protection against the number of injuries the runners experienced. Practitioners working with distance runners should critically evaluate the current S&C practices of their athletes, to ensure that activities prescribed have a sound evidence-based rationale.

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