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Strength Training for the Long Distance Runner: We Might be Making Progress

I just finished running the new book, “Inside a Marathon” which details virtually every element of the training and build-up to Scott Fauble’s improbable 7thplace finish at the 2018 New York City Marathon (just his second marathon).  The book is co-authored by Fauble and his coach Ben Rasario.  They take turns sharing the nuances of each training run completed, nap taken, strength workout performed, and even burrito consumed (Fauble loves burritos).  The writing style captivates the audience because as they wrote the book, they didn’t confer with each other; they simply reflected on that week of training and didn’t actually see each other’s reflections until the completion of the book (which culminates at the marathon).  
 
As I read, I was encouraged to see the emphasis that Fauble places on strength training.  Week in and week out, even while running over 120 miles in a week, Fauble never skipped his strength training workouts.  Perhaps the tide in elite distance running is slowly starting to change.  For decades, coaches and elite runners alike resisted strength training, particularly during periods of high mile training with many “key” speed and tempo runs.  
 
Fauble’s approach mirrors what a recent meta-analysis (a statistical tool used to group together all of the research addressing a particular topic) revealed about strength training for distance runners.  Published just a year ago in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, researchers concluded, “Taken together, these results provide a framework that supports the implementation of strength training in addition to traditional sport-specific training (i.e. running) to improve middle- and long-distance performance, mainly through improvements in the energy cost of locomotion, maximal power, and maximal strength.”  
 
Take Home Message: Distance runners need strength training and they should continue to strength train during the marathon build-up.  
 

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