Today's article we are addressing the question, "what affect does strength training have on 5k performance?" The article addresses two other components of running called Critical Velocity and Anaerobic Running Distance. Critical Velocity, according to the authors, is theoretically a pace run at metabolic steady state. In practice it is a pace one can hold for 30-35 minutes. Anaerobic Running Distance is theoretically how far someone can run on only the energy stored in muscles. Anaerobic Running Distance has been questionable at best in relating to how one can perform in aerobic events. The study takes 16 moderately trained recreational athletes and splits them into a strength plus running group and an only running group. The strength group will perform 4 exercises (lunge, parallel squat, romanian deadlift and calf raises) for 4 sets of 4 reps at 80% 1 RM as fast as possible keeping good form with 2 minutes rest between sets. The running and strength group will run 180-360 minutes a week spread out over 3-5 days at a low or moderate intensity. The runners were followed for 6 weeks and the study concluded that on average the strength group decreased their 5k time by 45 seconds while the running only group experience no significant change. The study then performed another 6 week cycle where both groups performed only running as described above. They concluded upon removal of strength training the strength group dropped back to baseline and lost all the gains they had acquired during the previous 6 week training cycle.
This has implications for us as runners in that if we are interested in 5k performance it is imperative that we include heavy resistance training to our routines. This study also shows us that if we are trying to peak for a race we need to make sure we do not cease strength training too soon as we can lose any gains made through strength training. The authors do theorize that the effects shown in this study could be different if the athletes had been performing speed work in conjunction with strength training, but the fundamental idea remains that if we are serious about 5k performance we need to include strength training.