Who are you choosing to look after your strength and conditioning?

By Mark Blomeley for RT’s Run School

Strength and conditioning is a continual growth area within the running industry, which I believe is a very positive sign for runners on the whole. There are direct performance benefits to running when incorporated alongside a tailored strength and conditioning program.

However, as there are more runners seeking strength and conditioning the question then becomes to whom should you trust and why?

This strength and conditioning trend is leading runners into fitness programs such as CrossFit, Pilates, yoga and general personal trainers. We can essentially divide these four different fitness programs into two areas, 1. General fitness high intensity programs (i.e. CrossFit and many personal trainers) and 2. Control and flexibility programs (i.e. Pilates and yoga).


Let’s discuss high intensity fitness programs first.

The go hard or go home mentality is extremely prevalent within the fitness industry, unfortunately it has no place alongside a running program. Let me explain. The hard running sessions that you do each week, i.e. intervals, fartlek and threshold runs are where you gain benefit for your running speed. If you do high intensity training around this you are going to impact on your ability to perform during your hard running sessions. Continually doing high intensity training across the week is what leads to injury, over training and ultimately plateaus in running performance.

On the other end of the spectrum are control and flexibility programs. Yoga, Pilates and the like, are great compliments as part of a running program. They encourage you to get more stable and more mobile and I generally incorporate elements of these into a S&C program for runners. However, they do fall short, in the fact that they don’t build specific strength or dynamic stability. Check out my post from last week of why dynamic stability is important.

It’s for these reasons that I recommend you enlist the support of a strength and conditioning coach. A strength and conditioning coach has a tertiary qualification in sports science as well as additional training and expertise in tailoring programs to athletes. The difference between a S&C coach and a personal trainer is the ability to appropriately plan a complimentary program to your running program.

A good strength and conditioning coach will incorporate mobility and stability work, movement development work and strength training, periodised to work with your running program. Everyone that works at the AIS, VIS, QAS, NSWIS etc, as a strength coach is a tertiary qualified strength and conditioning coach. If the elite are putting their trust in a S&C coach then so should you.

Click here to read my free report, “What Your Personal Trainer Doesn’t Know about Running Performance” to find out more about the difference between a strength and conditioning coach and personal trainer.