Effects of a concurrent strength and endurance training on running performance and running economy in recreational marathon runners

Alexander Ferrauti, Matthias Bergermann, Jaime Fernandez-Fernandez
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2010, 24 (10): 2770-8
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a concurrent strength and endurance training program on running performance and running economy of middle-aged runners during their marathon preparation. Twenty-two (8 women and 14 men) recreational runners (mean ± SD: age 40.0 ± 11.7 years; body mass index 22.6 ± 2.1 kg·m⁻²) were separated into 2 groups (n = 11; combined endurance running and strength training program [ES]: 9 men, 2 women and endurance running [E]: 7 men, and 4 women). Both completed an 8-week intervention period that consisted of either endurance training (E: 276 ± 108 minute running per week) or a combined endurance and strength training program (ES: 240 ± 121-minute running plus 2 strength training sessions per week [120 minutes]). Strength training was focused on trunk (strength endurance program) and leg muscles (high-intensity program). Before and after the intervention, subjects completed an incremental treadmill run and maximal isometric strength tests. The initial values for VO2peak (ES: 52.0 ± 6.1 vs. E: 51.1 ± 7.5 ml·kg⁻¹·min⁻¹) and anaerobic threshold (ES: 3.5 ± 0.4 vs. E: 3.4 ± 0.5 m·s⁻¹) were identical in both groups. A significant time × intervention effect was found for maximal isometric force of knee extension (ES: from 4.6 ± 1.4 to 6.2 ± 1.0 N·kg⁻¹, p < 0.01), whereas no changes in body mass occurred. No significant differences between the groups and no significant interaction (time × intervention) were found for VO2 (absolute and relative to VO2peak) at defined marathon running velocities (2.4 and 2.8 m·s⁻¹) and submaximal blood lactate thresholds (2.0, 3.0, and 4.0 mmol·L⁻¹). Stride length and stride frequency also remained unchanged. The results suggest no benefits of an 8-week concurrent strength training for running economy and coordination of recreational marathon runners despite a clear improvement in leg strength, maybe because of an insufficient sample size or a short intervention period.

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