Power Training for Runners
Building power is an important component for any athlete but many people in the sport of running skip power training because they don’t think it will help them with the sport of running. I’ve meet many runners that skip strength training and power work thinking that it will get in the way of their goals. Running may not be the best choice for people that have strength goals but strength and power is a great choice for those trying to perform better for a distance race. When we hit the end of the race and are tapping into to that last bit of energy stores the power training can give you an edge.
The Benefits of Power Training
When you do power training it teaches your body to recruit more muscle fibers that you can use while doing an activity like distance running. The best part about power training is that it won’t add bulk while improving force production if you don’t add extra calories.
Power training has been shown to improve running economy and improve VO2 max which both will help with running performance. Power training may help keep you off the ground longer minimizing contact time on the ground which is ideal for distance running. Having more power will assist you when you hit a hill or you decide to pass a runner during a race.
Personally, when I start my power training phase I notice a different gear starting to build during my runs. I can do quick bursts easier than when I am in a base building phase.
You shouldn’t do power training the entire cycle of your running program. Instead you should add power training 6-8 weeks before an event. This will help you to peak for the race and avoid burnout. Starting off with power training may cause injury if you skip doing stability or strength work prior starting a power phase.
When doing power workouts, you need to focus on explosive movements otherwise you will not get the benefits of the exercises.
Doing exercises like cleans, thrusters, kettle bell, jump squats, jumping lunges, box jumps all are great choices when your goal is to build power.
Programing Power Training
When setting up your power workouts make sure not to do them before a hard run because it will impact your run making you slower. Try to program your power workouts around your easy runs and give yourself at least one day to recover before doing a hard run or speed work. Many of us run 5-6 days per week if we’re training for an event and we may need to do a strength or power workout the same day as a run. Whenever you should hit two workouts in one day do the run first because that is your primary goal.
The rep range for power workouts should be 2 sets of 6-8 reps. You should keep the total reps for the legs under 60 because high volume may make you sore. Being sore from your power workout isn’t ideal for your running workouts remember your goal is to perform better during runs not during power workouts. The power workouts should complement the running program not the other way around.
When you first start your power training phase focus on doing jump squats and jumping lunges without weights. After week one you can add dumbbells. When adding, weight add 10 pounds at a time maxing out at 40 pounds of weight because if you use high weight the exercise will turn into a strength training session.
Power Training and Taper week
When heading into taper week for your race don’t do any power training because you should be focused on deloading for taper week. Instead of power training focus on foam rolling and stretching instead.
Check out our blog on active recovery