Strength Endurance Development- Part 2


Strength Endurance continued.

Well, it seems like I’ve sparked some interest with the strength endurance idea. I’ll try and cover some of the specifics of how I have been implementing it into my training and to add to that I’ll talk a little about Canova’s approach.

To start with I’ll answer some of the questions I got on the topic:

“What exactly is strength endurance?”

I’ll go straight to my training guide notes for this one:

“Strength endurance- preserving a high percentage of your strength. Increasing the ability to use a certain percentage of your maximum strength over a longer period of time. Or increasing the percentage of max strength that can be used over X time.”

For simplicities sake, in terms of running think of it as combining exercises/runs that require a larger amount of strength with an element of endurance.

“How do you develop it?”

A quick guide to things that would increase strength endurance (again coming from my training guide notes):

Develop by doing exercises that require higher strength under fatigued situations.

    • Strength developed first via
      • Hill sprints
      • General strength exercises
    • Then Add endurance element to strength work
      • Long run after specific work
      • Longer hills after short hills
      • Hills in between intervals/reps
      • Hill circuits
      • Alternations (speed change workouts, i.e. Oregon's 40/30’s)
      • Bounding during running/reps
      • Runs immediately following strength workout sessions

“Where do you think it should fall into place in terms of periodization?”

I think it depends on the event and person. First off, you have to assess the person’s strength. If an athlete is not developed then obviously you have to develop some basic strength before developing strength endurance. Now, in no way am I talking about developing bulk. Do NOT think of strength in terms of that.

Besides that, I think strength endurance stuff can be done to varying degrees throughout the year. There will always be some aspect of it. For example, even during a full base period, runs through hilly areas still provide a strength endurance element. I don’t think you can pigeon hole strength endurance work into a specific time during the periodization. It can serve so many different purposes with slight alterations. Some of the places I think it work best are:

-As a transition to specific work.

-Combined with specific work during the latter part of periodization to create some speed+strength endurance.

“Do you believe that is should serve as a sort of transitional stage, ala Lydiard?”

As answered above, I think Lydiard used it right. It works very well as a transition stage. You can even do some higher lactate strength endurance work to prepare for lactic work. Canova did some work that showed that high lactate strength endurance hill circuits do NOT decrease the lactate threshold like similar lactate level track work does. I suspect this is because the lactate is nonspecific. You’re recruiting different fibers and different fibers are producing/accumulating lactate, so you don’t get the same decrease in aerobic abilities in the main fibers.

“Could it even be maintained to a certain extent year-round?”

As I alluded to earlier, it certainly can. I think spices of it year round could be a good idea. Hilly runs is one easy option. Getting even more specific, adding just a single longer hard rep (400+m) uphill after some hill sprints is a great way to introduce some strength endurance work. Hill sprints after a longer run, or some easy changes of speed during runs is another way. Be creative.

“Should it be in a brief block (as you seem to have done), or should it be interspersed throughout, or perhaps a little bit of both?”

I think a little of both. It shouldn’t be randomly done. There should be a point and something you are building towards. For example, start off with some simple strength endurance work and gradual increase the difficulty/amount as you progress. I think it’s best to work towards a specific block that can be the kind of accumulation of the work you’ve done. The special block is a way of putting the elements together.

”Also, how should one construct such a session? Please elaborate on your mentioning of Canova's progression of the workouts.”

Constructing one is just a matter of using your imagination. You combine strength elements with endurance elements. I listed some of the ways above and I’ll give some examples here:

      • Long run day after specific work
      • Longer hills after short hills
        • Ex: 8x8sec hill sprints + 500m at 90%
      • Hills in between intervals/reps
        • 4x800m at 10k pace, 6x8sec hill sprints, 4x800, 5x8sec hill sprints
      • Alternations
        • 6x800 at 10k with 800 recovery at marathon pace as recovery
      • Bounding during running/reps
        • 500m reps running 200m at 800 pace, 100m bounding, 200m at 800 pace
      • Runs immediately following strength workout sessions
        • Weight circuit followed by 8mile easy/moderate run
      • Hill Circuits

Below I’ve given Canova’s hill circuit progression which I’ve been using a modified version of. Lydiard’s is another one you can use.

Basically, if you follow the Canova circuit, you alternate exercises and runs going uphill. The total amount you want each rep to be depends on conditioning and your race. As a rule of thumb, you want each rep to last about the time you’d do for aerobic intervals for your event. So for a 1500m runner, 2-4min, 5k- 3-5min, etc. The hill reps would last longer at the beginning of the cycle and shorter at the end during the Specific Strength Endurance phase. So some of the exercises you can choose from are (be creative):

-plyometrics (squat jumps, tuck jumps, ankle hops, etc.)


-jumping jacks

-butt kicks, high knees


Canova’s progression of strength endurance circuits:

  • Strength Endurance circuits:
    • Extensive Strength Endurance
      • Exercises and runs at 70-80%
        • Develops general level of strength/endurance and begins to combine them.
    • High Intensity Strength
      • Exercises at max connected with running as recovery
      • Develops high intensity strength
    • Specific Strength Endurance
      • Learn to recruit fibers/strength under high acidity
        • Running at max, exercises at 75% or near max

So a simplistic example of a circuit:


-200m run

-10x squat jumps

-100m run

-50m bounding

- 70m running

-50m skipping

-200m running

During the first and 2nd phases (extensive strength endurance and high intensity strength) you would do this circuit. The only difference would be that the first one you do both exercises and runs at about 70%. During the High intensity strength you would do the exercises at max, and use the running in between as a sort of recovery at 70% or so. So exercises at max would mean you try and jump as high as you can for example.

The third phase you would change things up slightly to something like the following, with running at max and exercises used as recovery at 70% or so.

-200m run at 85%

-10x squat jumps

-80m sprint

-50m bounding

- 70m sprint

-50m skipping

-100m sprint

Depending on the athlete and the event he’s running you could run this circuit between 2-8 times. The recovery should be pretty long for the specific strength endurance because it is pretty high lactic.

That’s about enough for you to digest for now. If anyone has anymore questions feel free to ask. Next time I’ll try and outline how I put my strength endurance work in the big picture of my training periodization. As a recap and preview here’s what a general progression looks like:

1. general strength to

2. strength endurance to

3. high intensity strength

4. specific strength endurance

5. speed+strength endurance-(combines speed endurance work with strength endurance work.): ex: alternating 400 hard/400 medium for 2000m

Spring break= Tough Week, Strength Endurance Block

While most head to the beach for a nice relaxing or raucus week of fun, I headed home for a week of tough training. This was the last week before the outdoor season officially starts. Add in the fact that I had no school and you get a very tough week of work. I had 2 hard workouts plus one medium and one very long run planned. I was tempted to try three workouts but by the end of the week I was pretty fried so I decided against that.

I got some comments on the strength endurance article, so when I get some time and motivation I'll type something up to continue the little mini series on that. It's a good time to explain it because with the last 2 weeks of work there has been a heavy strength endurance emphasis. I appreciate the feedback that I've been getting, keep it up.

Training since last update:

AM- 8 really slow
PM- 5 easy+10x100m (2E,1G)
Really sluggish and tired after yesterday's double workout.

AM- 5 easy
PM- 9 easy+10x100m (2E,1G)

AM- 5 easy
2mi w/up, 4x600, 4x300, 4x500, 4x200 w/ 2min rest(100m of it jogging), 5min b/t sets (600m of it jogging), first hot day and windy! 1.5mi c/d (1:38.6, 1:37.1, 1:39.0, 1:34.4…46.5, 46.9, 45.8, 43.5… 1:22.6, 1:22.0, 1:23.0, 1:16.9…29.1, 28.8, 28.6, 25.0)

Excellent workout. VERY LONG. Plan was on first 3 of each set to do at a certain pace and then the last one drop the pace by 3sec per 400. 600's and 500s were supposed to be 66 down to 63. 300s were supposed to be 63 down to 60. 200s were supposed to be 30 down to 27. Hit all the times or faster and the wind was pretty bad, so very good workout. Was real hot which kind of got me towards the end.

AM-16 easy Good to get a long run in!!!

AM- 10 easy

AM- 7mi of
1.5mi w/up, 3x2k alternating 400s(65/77 goal) w/ 5min rest, 1.5mi c/d, WINDY (25mph+!!)

splits 5:40 (63, 74, 65, 75, 61) (65,77, 66, 78, 65) (65, 77, 68, 77, 60) wind threw me off big time on 3rd 400 in last set, it came on strong. The wind made this workout way harder than it should have been but I made it through. Was very pleased with the workout. It really helped out having Jeremy with me on the last 400 on each set. Got me used to running with someone again, which is something I miss.

The alternation is another way to develop more specific strength endurance.

PM-6 easy

AM-8 easy- 6:45-50ish on hill loop
PM-6mi solid pace(upper 5's) for 5mi then strides (10x100m, 2E,1G)

AM-8.5mi of
2+mi w/up, 4x2:40ish high intensity hill circuit w/ 6ish min jog down gravel hill recovery (45sec hard, 10 tuck jumps, 10sec sprint, 25sec skips, 8sec sprint, 30sec medium, 15sec bounding, 8sec sprint, 10 tuck jumps, 10sec sprint) 2mi c/d.

This was the final step in the strength endurance progression that I'll explain later. Basically I've been following Canova's guidelines which loosely means that I started with longer strength circuit with exercises AND running at about 75% effort. Then I progressed to exercises at max with running at 75%. Then finally, this circuit was with running at max or near max and exercises at either 75% or near max.

This is a pretty high lactate workout but it is indirect lactate. Meaning that it's not entirely produced in the muscles used directly in running. So it doesn't lower the threshold or aerobic system as much as traditional lactate work. It also is a way to force recruitment of new fibers under highly acidic conditions. Overall it was a tough workout, but it's fun and rejuvinating because it's something different. Although it can leave you pretty sore.

PM- 6 easy

AM- 9 easy
PM-6.5 solid pace w andy + 3xstrides, Did this run in Kingwood since I was at the HS track meet. Good place to run. HS kids did great with PR's and wins all around so a short congrats to the guys (Jeremy- 1:57/4:24.0 double win, Ryan 4:25 PR, Cody 4:31 PR, Tony 10:13? PR).

AM-7mi of
2mi easy, 4x800 on the gravel (2:25-2:22) w/ 1min easy, 5x hill sprints, 2.5mi easy
Was going to get extra ambitious and do a full strength endurance session of 800s and hill sprints, but I was still sore and felt real sluggish getting going, so I stuck with the plan of an easy workout. Most people don't grasp the idea of an easy or medium workout. Whenever they workout it's to the well and whenever they run easy it's just mileage. Today's workout is an example of an easy workout getting a little high end aerobic stimulus and some CNS work but it's of low volume and not taxing. Also, people forget how to run fast (or relatively fast) while being relaxed. Most people press to hit times when they workout. Today was all about running fast easy.
PM-5mi easy

AM-18mi at Burroughs
Long run with the HS kids and Andy. Probably about 6:40-45 pace on the hill loops. Had to do 3x5mile hill loops, so got a lot of good strength.

AM-10mi decent pace, probably 6:10-20ish

AM-5 decent pace
PM-8.5mi of

2mi w/up, 3x(1600, 2min R, 400) 5min rest (w/ 400 of it jogging) (4:39, 57.1…4:38,57.6…4:37,55.1), 2mi c/d, felt real good, 1600s felt slow and easy, good kick in on last one,

This one felt really good. Everything felt like it was nice and easy. Felt A LOT better than when I did the first variation of this workout (3x1200/300) and this one was substantially longer, so that is definately encouraging. You should note the change of pace. That is the key in this workout.

That's it for now. This training block was one that focused on strength endurance. Each workout had an element of that in it.

Strength Endurance Part 1:Lydiard Got it Wrong!!

Strength Endurance Series:
Part 1- Lydiard Got it wrong
Part 2- How to Develop Strength Endurance

Lydiard Got it Wrong.

Arthur Lydiard is practically a god in the realm of distance training. He revolutionized training in countless ways and helped to bring performances to another. His placement on the Mount Rushmore of distance coaches is assured, but that does not mean he had everything right. We all make mistakes. Even the greatest scientist of the modern era got it wrong when he argued that the universe was stationary and not expanding. So, once again I’d like to put Mr. Lydiard among another great, Mr. Einstein. He got something wrong.

In Kenny Moore’s sensational book Bowerman and the Men of Oregon there is a section where he talks about how Bowerman went to visit Lydiard and came away with a lot of wisdom. The one that caught my attention is that Lydiard said that his athletes, such as Peter Snell, had great kicks due to their long run. The Oregon milers then went about adding long runs to their schedule hoping for that improvement in their kicks. It never happened. That leaves us with a question. If Lydiard’s athletes kicks had improved what was the mechanism to that improvement?

Of course it is foolish to pick one component of the training and say that it improved the kick. In reality it is a number of components and how they were blended together. But, after researching Lydiard’s and others methods I think the improvement in kick was due more towards Lydiard’s Hill circuit and not the long run.

Lydiard’s hill circuit consisted of an 800m hill with flat parts on the top and bottom. The specifics of the exact circuit can be found on the Lydiard Foundation website. It consisted of some uphill bounding, striding out downhill, wind sprints, and recovery jogging. The purpose of the circuit is the key. According to the Lydiard Foundation it is “to bring resistance to the leg muscles to develop muscle fibers; in particular the white (fast twitch) muscle fibers…” In other words, the goal is to recruit more muscle fibers than you regularly would when running and to train them; also known as developing strength endurance. If that term rings a bell with you, it might be because another distance coach, Renato Canova, also uses a variation of hill circuits to increase strength endurance. Once again, we can see that one of Lydiard’s ideas has stood the test of time, with slight modification.

This development of strength endurance is one of the key’s to developing a kick. It increases the fiber pool that an athlete can use and also increases the endurance, or ability of those fibers to work under fatigue. With some other workouts (which Lydiard also had, such as his 50m sprint/50m cruise workout) you can extend this strength endurance to high intensity strength endurance, meaning that you can train the body to recruit these fibers under highly fatigued conditions. At the end of a race, muscle fibers are “failing” and your body is trying to compensate by cycling in others to replace them. With an increase in strength endurance, the athlete will have a better kick at the end of the race because he can call upon more fibers, which can last longer. This may all seem grand in theory, but how does it work.

The key is the hill aspect. To increase the number of fibers recruited you have to increase the force requirement, or the amount of strength required. Lydiard does this with the hill and with bounding. Adding running like plyometrics (various jumps, skips) is another way to do this. These high strength activities recruit more fibers. Then, add an endurance component to the equation and you have a strength endurance circuit. An example would be uphill running with 3x10sec bounding interspersed with 30sec of moderate running in between. How you vary the intensity of the exercises and the running will determine the exact result of the training. For instance, increase the bounding intensity and it is a more strength oriented session.

While Lydiard may have given the wrong reason for the development of his athlete’s kicks, he still had the necessary components to develop them in his training. Being wrong in his explanation may have hurt others athletes (and made people run 20 milers more than they wanted to!), but not his own, so maybe it worked out best for him. You’ll also notice that his hill circuits are the most often ignored part of his training paradigm. Maybe we should all go reread Lydiard and second guess the discarding of that component. Coaches like Renato Canova seem to have brought back the hill circuits and it may be about time.

For now, here’s my 3 step cheat sheet guide to kick development:
1st. Increase maximum fibers recruited
2nd. Improve ability to use for prolonged time
3rd. Learn to recruit them under high acidity

More on that and the progression of development of strength endurance later if there’s interest.

Go to Part 2:
Part 2- How to Develop Strength Endurance

Special Block and Graduation.

First off, I finally got the news that I WILL graduate...yay.... This is big news because I had to do a whole lot of petitioning and arguing to get classes I took at Rice to count as transfer courses. Don't ask me why it was so difficult, but it was. It was a huuuuuuge hastle, but thankfully it's over. So now that I know I'm done, I can actually start to figure out what to do next year.

This week I attempted what Renato Canova calls a Special Block. Basically it is two medium-hard workouts in the same day. It's a tough one, let me tell you, but hopefully the results will prove beneficial. We shall see.

Running Log:
AM- 5mi easy
PM- 9mi easy in a thunderstorm. Pretty crazy run in the rain/lightening.

AM-5mi easy
PM-9mi of
1.5mi w/up, 8xhill circuit up green monster
(35sec medium, 20 knee bends, 25sec medium, 10 tuck jumps, 20sec easy, 10sec bounding, 20sec, 20sec skipping, 20sec, 10sec sprint)
1.5mi c/d

AM-10.5mi easy. A VERY WEIRD run. At about 55minutes into the run, my right ear started ringing and feeling different. 15 minutes later it abruptly stopped and just as suddenly I completely lost all sense of balance. It was the strangest sensation I've ever felt. I couldn't even walk, let alone run, in a straight line. So I stumbled the half mile to a nearby park and used someones cell phone to get my parents to pick me up. The rest of the day was much of the same. I got into a doctor and it turns out that my sinuses were plugged up so bad in my ear that it was effecting the vestibular process in the ear, which basically controls our balance.

PM-5mi real slow. Felt like I was running on a cruise ship. Very strange feeling.

AM-5mi easy
PM- 9mi plus strides. Slowly feeling better, but still off.

Hell day
AM-7mi of
1.5mi w/up, 10x400 w/ 200 jog in 60sec,(64-65, close in 59). 2mi c/d
Had to do this one before class. So started at 6:45 and it was still dark out. I felt real sluggish and it was very difficult to judge pace. By about the 3rd or 4th one I finally woke up and started clicking off 64.5's. Good first session

PM-9mi of
2+mi w/up, Fartlek-3x6min w/ 4min easy, hard part at roughly 4:50 pace, 2mi+ c/d

This one was tough to get going. The legs were pretty much crap but I got it in. It didn't help that I had bloodwork in between the two workouts.

This day is an experiment. It's basically a supercompensation day. Two medium-hard workouts combined on the same day. Lots of rest is needed before and after this, so that means 2 easy days following it.

Dan Pfaff/ John Cook General Strength Exercises

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