Ben Pulham, a former professional triathlete representing New Zealand, and now the founder of boutique fitness company, Coached, which helps runners and triathletes to achieve their personal goals – is a huge advocate of strength training.
Running is a strength based sport
He said “Running is a largely strength based sport. In fact strength training is speed work in disguise. That is because when you build someone’s strength endurance they are able to put more power through the road or the track when they are running, and the outcome is a longer stride. If your stride is longer and your cadence is unchanged, you will naturally run faster.”
Added Ben, “So building strength helps to make you faster and more resilient, and it is also what stops you from slowing down in the back end of a marathon race.”
Running fast is not about training fast
Ben also stresses that running fast is not all about training fast. He said, “To me it is important to get strong and then get fast.”
Continued Ben, “So work on your aerobic conditioning and strength conditioning, and then worry about the speed. Training purely for speed is a lot more high risk and it hammers your body much more, which can be detrimental in the long term.”
Regular strength training sessions for Coached members
This is one reason why Ben holds regular strength training sessions at the Kallang Practice Track. These sessions are free for Coached members and $30 for non-members. Usually, they begin with a 20-minute slow jog on the track, followed by strength exercises such as hill reps at various intensities, squats, lunges and bounding. One of these Coached sessions took place last week.
Explained Ben, “These sessions are one way of building strength endurance. I am actually a big advocate of hill running, but Singapore lacks hills. So we look for a different type of strength that will enhance our runners’ strength and power.”
He continued, “And coming to the track and doing these sessions teaches people different forms of exercises to use, when there are no hills around.”
Ben’s favourite strength conditioning exercises
Ben adds that some of his favourite strength exercises in particular includes walking lunges as well as static and dynamic squats. Added the running coach, “I also like to incorporate hopping into a dynamic warm up, as well as basic running drills like high knees as these teaches the body how to stabilise itself.”
He added, “From a different strength perspective, I also think side planks and sit ups are great as they stabilise the core so that you will get strong and will not lose your power due to being soft through your mid-section when you are running.”
Exercises had been given to Ben during his time as a professional
For many of these exercises that he teaches his members, Ben explained that he had learnt them from his own time as a professional triathlete.
Ben demonstrating one of the exercises at the recent session.
He said, “My coach used to prescribe a lot of exercises and drills to do. I am a creature of habit; these drills worked for me so I am confident that they will work for others as well.”
Weights training will compete for time
While many endurance athletes may associate strength training with weights and often do these because the elite athletes are doing so, Ben does not feel that doing weights training is necessary for most recreational endurance athletes.
He explained, “Weights can have their place, but if you have a job and family with kids, then these will all compete for your time.”
Continued Ben, “Going to the gym and doing a special weights training session is actually time that could be spent running. Having worked with thousands of amateur athletes, they do not do enough running to get good at it, so I prefer them to do running based strength exercises that are directly beneficial to them.”
No single formula that fits all
But Ben adds that there is no single formula that can fit everyone. He explained, “That is why I generally give Coached members a lot of different exercises so that they can decide which ones work the best for them depending on their individual weaknesses and improve on these.”
Ben added, “For example, some people lack leg strength but others are weak in the core or the glutes; it is a matter of knowing what you need to improve and using these exercises to improve your ability as a runner or a triathlete.”
Find out more about Coached at http://www.coached.fitness.
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