Strength Training For Master Endurance Runners

Strength Training For Master Endurance Runners

Referenced paper: Concurrent Strength and Endurance Training Effects on Running Economy in Master Endurance Runners

As we age, we strive to maintain or even improve our performance, but declines in athletic performance are inevitable with ageing.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of 2 different strength training protocols, maximal strength training* and resistance training* on running economy and strength parameters in a group of regularly training master marathon runners after six weeks of concurrent training.

*Maximal Strength Training (MST): 3 Sets x 3-4 Rep @ 85% – 90% estimated 1-Rep Max (1RM: The maximum amount of weight you can lift for just one rep)
*Resistance training (RT): 4 Sets x 10 Rep @ 70% estimated 1RM


Running economy (RE) improved significantly in the MST group (6.17%) only at marathon pace (second step, Figure 1). No significant differences were observed in the RE for the MST groups at the other running speeds. The RE and control group (CG) did not show significant improvements in the RE for any of the running speeds.

Step 1: 5 minutes at 1 km/hr slower than marathon pace, Step 2: 5 minutes at marathon pace, and Step 3: 5 minutes at 1 km/hr faster than marathon pace.
* = significant differences from the PRE tests (p < 0.05).
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Issue: Volume 27(8), August 2013, p 2295-2303

Key point

To be effective, especially on endurance athletes, the program needs to maximize increases in 1RM primarily from coordination and neural adaptations and changes in recruitment patterns, with minimal muscle hypertrophy.

We suggest in the preparation period for major competitions to add a 6-week MST protocol 2 times per week concurrently to the regular endurance training targeted to increase maximal aerobic power. This could be a beneficial methodology to improve performance in endurance events and a good way to diversify the training program of master runners that often focus only on running, risking nonfunctional overreaching.


  • Piacentini, M. F., De Ioannon, G., Comotto, S., Spedicato, A., Vernillo, G., & La Torre, A. (2013). Concurrent strength and endurance training effects on running economy in master endurance runners. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 27(8), 2295-2303.

Coach Justin

- Certified Personal Trainer | Obstacle Racing Specialist | Sports Science <3

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