Podcast, Strength training

Strength training for endurance performance with Richard Blagrove, PhD | EP#292

 June 28, 2021

By  Mikael Eriksson


Richard Blagrove, PhD, is a lecturer in physiology and programme leader at Loughborough University. Richard has a background as a middle distance runner himself, and has done extensive academic and applied work in the field of strength and conditioning for middle and long distance runners.

In this Episode you'll learn about:

  • A new book co-edited by Richard, "The Science and Practice of Middle and Long Distance Running"
  • Programming and periodisation of strength training for endurance athletes
  • Workout structure for strength and conditioning sessions
  • Executing workouts and sets - how hard should you go?
  • Plyometric training for runners and triathletes

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04:00 -

  • My name is Richard Blagrove and at the moment I am a lecturer at Loughborough University, and I have been teaching at higher education for over eight years now.
  • My own sporting background is as a middle distance runner as well as in rowing.

    I was rather prone to injury during my active years, which is why I displayed a specific interest in strength and conditioning work in order to try and prevent getting injured.

    Since I started my ”sporting career”, middle and distance running has been my favorite sport, and hence what I have focused most on in my research and teaching as well.
  • I also recently published a book called ”Strength and Conditioning for Endurance Running”, which I think is an excellent resource for coaches and runners out there.

Strength training

11:45 -

  • When it comes to differences between the strength training for middle and long distance runners, the basics are pretty much the same, however, you can do slightly more anaerobic strength training with middle distance runners because they need a better developed anaerobic system.
  • For triathletes, much the same applies for distance runners, limited focus should be directed towards anaerobic strength training.

    Also, for the swim discipline, a bit of upper body work could be beneficial (as well as quad specific strength training for cycling).
  • There are three typer of different strength training: heavy resistance strength training (i.e. squats, kettlebell exercises etc.), explosive resistance training (focus is directed towards the speed at what the force is developed at) and plyometric exercises (similar to explosive resistance training but the exercises are more focused on the quality of the movement, e.g. jumping off boxes trying to minimize the ground contact time).
  • Normally, I use to plan a strength/conditioning session as a 10mins warm up, then 10-20mins of plyometric work, 20mins of resistance training and finally 10mins of conditioning work (injury prevention oriented).
  • When it comes to recovery between exercises, when doing resistance training I would advocate implementation of full recovery, i.e. 2mins or more in between the sets.
  • In the build up towards a season I would plan 2-3 (max) strength training per week and then cut back that to around 1 time per week during the race season.
  • In regards to soreness post strength training and its impact on the endurance training, it is definitely a factor to consider, however, in many cases the psychological factor may be even larger than the physical one, and despite feeling a bit sore it is possible for many athletes to deliver some really good and solid endurance performances/sessions.

Tapering and peaking

56:40 -

  • There are some basic rules when it comes to tapering: it is important to remain frequency (of sessions) but reduce the overall volume (in the days leading up to the race it should roughly be cut down to half), also one should aim to maintain or even increase intensity slightly during taper.

Physiological assessment/metabolic testing

01:01:45 -

  • For long distance runners and triathletes I do think it is very interesting with physiological testing such as VO2max, and if an athlete has the ability to frequently visit a lab in order to evaluate the training, then that could be great for motivation.

    However, the training applications that can be retracted from such tests are often quite limited.

Training monitory

01:03:45 -

  • I think that the most important ”monitoring tool” is your own feeling of being recovered and having a good dialogue with your coach about how you’re experiencing the training load.

Top tips to amateurs

01:05:45 -

  • Set realistic and long term goals.
  • Aim for consistency in training.
  • Try and include some strength training!

Rapid fire questions

01:07:40 -

  • What is your favorite book, blog or resource related to endurance sports? How to Become a Champion by Percy Cerutty.
  • Who is somebody that you look up to or has inspired you? When I was young I was hugely inspired by Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett.
  • What is a personal habit that has helped you achieve success? Being consistent with both training and working and having balance in your work-family life.


Mikael Eriksson

I am a full-time triathlon coach, founder of Scientific Triathlon, and host of the top-rated podcast That Triathlon Show. I am from Finland but live in Lisbon, Portugal.

Please contact me if you have feedback on the podcast or want to make suggestions for improvement or send in a question for a Q&A episode.

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