6 Things Endurance Athletes can learn from Strength Athletes

Every discipline has its own good and bad habits, and in general we are all guilty of doing too much of what we like doing (eg. running, cycling, lifting big weights etc) and not enough of what we should be doing – rehab, looking after the body, addressing weaknesses, rest etc.

There is also always a big divide between different practices, and the divide is usually biggest when it comes to endurance athletes – mainly runners and cyclists out there! – and strength athletes – especially weightlifters and powerlifters. However, we can all learn so much from practices common to other disciplines!

Here are 6 simple things that all the runners and cyclists could learn from strength athletes:

  • Strength is your friend. Resistance training can help endurance athletes avoid common imbalances developed with regular training; can build strength in essential areas and in general help you stay injury free. It also helps to increase bone mineral density which is vital to avoid stress fractures and bone health diseases.
  • Periodisation & REST! Many endurance athletes are guilty of training too much with no proper programming. On top of busy lives and full times jobs, it often leads to excessive strain on the body and therefore injuries. Also, the same daily runs are not what makes you a faster runner; for adaptation to take place (getting better, faster and improving performance in general!) your body needs carefully planned overload, de-load weeks and rest days! We see most injuries develop from doing too much too soon, doing too much in general or not being regular with training; whether you are ‘just training’ because you love it, or for a race, you need to follow a plan to minimise the chances of injury and avoid stalling with your performance. All elite athletes in any sport follow programs, have rest days and de-load periods so why shouldn’t you?
  • Get the Selfie Video started. You may make fun of people filming most sets of their training when in the gym, but there is an important reason for doing so: filming your sets allows you to review your form and check whether you are moving correctly. And when things go wrong, you are not left guessing, you can see what needs to be changed or improved. Many injured runners we see at the clinic have no idea what their running looks like: when asked, most people don’t know how they strike the floor, whether they are shrugging their shoulders, clenching their fists etc. These are important clues for your therapist to really understand the issues you are experiencing. If you generally run on a treadmill, it’s super easy to set a camera to film yourself from different angles; if you run outdoors, get a friend to help you out or do a session at the track. Filming yourself every few weeks allows you to spot flaws while developing.
  • Get a coach. Most lifters know that a coach is an invaluable asset not only to get a personalised program in order to maximise your performance, but also to learn to move correctly. As mentioned in the previous point, proper running technique will save you from many niggles and injuries. Don’t be fooled by the fact that ‘running is natural’, squatting should be natural too but how many people can squat ‘ass to grass’ with perfect form? Not many at all! Years of inactivity, poor mobility and sitting too long at a desk changes how the body moves and makes a ‘natural’ movement something we need to relearn.
  • Feed the gains. Lifters Always think about food, a lot of food, a lot of carbs! It’s extremely important to fuel the body correctly during and after a tough session, not only for strength gains, but also for proper recovery – and body composition! Always tight and sore after training despite mobility work and stretching? Constantly getting a lot of injuries and niggles? You may be underfeeding yourself and your body may be unable to recover properly; it may be wise to get your nutrition looked at.
  • All the gear. Lifting straps, knee sleeves, belts etc are widely used to help performance and to reduce the risk of injury. Strength athletes know the importance that proper gear has in keeping them going, the same attention should be used by endurance athletes. Regardless of your level, if you are running, cycling or swimming regularly, you need to get the right tools: get proper running shoes and replace them when needed (every ~500miles! Not 2 years!), get your bike fitted for you, get proper floats and wet suits when needed. As with technique, proper gear will help you move better and minimise the chances of injuries.

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