I Just Set a PW (Personal Worst)

4th of July run 2014

Suffering all the way to the finish line!

Yep, you heard me, I just set a PW in the Ashland 4th of July Run. We often only hear about people’s personal bests, but sometimes things don’t work out the way we hoped. Running in the Ashland 4th of July 10k run has become a tradition for me over the last several years. Although, it’s only been a 10k since 2011, when it switched from a hilly 6 miler to the more moderate present day 10k. My times ranged anywhere from 39:22 to 45:37. I ran my PR on the old course in 2009, when I had a boat load of endurance and before I was hampered with an Achilles injury. My slowest time had been in 2008, when I was a beginner. I wasn’t used to the distance or the hills. This year I ran a 47:49. Since last fall, my running has been inconsistent, low mileage, and interval based. I’ve picked up my training lately, but I have been following a sprinter’s training plan with the idea of competing in a couple of all-comer’s and master’s track meets. The training takes a lot less time and I get right to the point when I am at the track. I supplement the sprint training with olympic lifting and plyometrics/medicine ball work. Unfortunately, it does not make me a good distance runner and it does not improve my endurance for longer distances. That’s right, you can’t train for both endurance and strength/power at the same time.

According to Ultimate MMA Conditioning by Joel Jamieson, training the aerobic system increases the amount of mitochondria, builds a greater network of capillaries, and expands the amount of aerobic enzymes in the muscle tissue. On the other hand, anaerobic training improves the body’s ability to produce energy without oxygen, reducing the mitochondria and capillary network, while increasing the amount of glycolytic enzymes in the muscle tissue. This is the reason why both systems cannot be greatly improved at the same time. A 1980 study out of the European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology, showed that while it’s possible to increase your VO2 max while simultaneously training for strength and endurance, the ability to develop strength is reduced. Research in the February 1994 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR) revealed that training strength and endurance at the same time, led to improved endurance and upper body strength, but does not provide gains in lower body strength, speed, and power. Combined training in the 2009 Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports resulted in interference of muscle hypertrophy in middle aged and older adults, but they obtained similar increases in maximal strength. The January 2008 JSCR uncovered a reduction in lower body power when cardiovascular endurance and neuromuscular power training are performed simultaneously.  So here are three studies that showed the combination of endurance and strength training affected strength and muscle growth, but didn’t seem to affect endurance. From my own personal experience, when I was running high mileage weeks and training for ultra marathons, my legs were always trashed. My jump reach was pathetic and I had a hard time performing lunges or squats. However, there is probably someone out there who can run 100 miles and go out and dunk a basketball. I don’t think you can ever rule out the seemingly impossible, but in most cases, you can’t have it both ways, the strength/power and unlimited endurance.  On the flip side, here is one out of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise that showed the reverse of the other studies. In this study, concurrent training did not affect strength, but appeared to hurt development of maximal aerobic capacity. It’s pretty clear that the research supports this idea that we don’t want to train endurance and power simultaneously. How should we train then?

How your training should be structured, all depends on what kind of adaptations you are trying to achieve. It will be more beneficial to avoid the shotgun approach and focus your training on specific areas. A distance runner will benefit the most from focusing more on aerobic system development, while a speed/power athlete will improve more with anaerobic training. Now I must add that the runner shouldn’t completely avoid strength/power training, nor should the speed/power athlete dismiss aerobic training. All these energy systems play a part in each and every sport, it’s just a matter of how crucial each one is to your specific sport. Dedicate more time to the important adaptations but don’t neglect the other energy systems. Resistance training should reflect the adaptations that you are trying to create in your conditioning.

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As I mentioned above, I have been focusing my training on the lactic system. This has caused a decline in my endurance for distance running, but that is to be expected. I set a new PW in the Ashland 4th of July Run, but that’s okay, because I hope to set a PR (personal record) in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and long jump in track. It’s all part of the plan.

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