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Strength and Conditioning for Running: A New Model

For time immemorial, there has been one way to build fitness for running. If you want to be a good runner, the millage must be painstakingly squeezed into the legs through various combinations of running sessions. Some coaches opt for plenty of long slow distance running at the start of the year, some opt for building mileage on the cross country circuit, and some opt for Fartlek or tempo training. All variations of the same thing, and all proven to increase fitness and running performance. Does this sound familiar?

There is a problem with the current model. A problem that I deal with every day as the owner of a busy strength and conditioning facility in Cork. The problem forms the basis for the paradigm shift, that requires a measure of ‘thinking outside the box’.


The runner’s eternal problem

As a mid to long distance runner, it has been drilled into you that you must get yourself up to ‘X’ amount of miles before you can dare to dream of success on the road or track. This philosophy is widespread, and founded on a certain degree of success with this model. It’s true, that you will improve your running prowess by simply running. However, it is also true that by simply running, and having a lofty weekly mileage figure in your head that you aspire to achieve, you are accelerating the big clock in the sky that is ticking down to your next injury. This is fact. 95% of runners will run and run, until something breaks down, and system failure occurs. Ankle sprain, knee pain, hip pain, flu, low energy, low mood. All symptoms of a poorly thought out and faulty training paradigm. This is also a fact. I see it every week at our strength and conditioning facility in Cork.

This problem, however, is not your fault, oh gentle runner. When you are told that running is the only way to progress, what else would you do but run?! However, now there is another way to get solid training gains, as well as improving your strength, posture, energy, and capacity to perform daily activities with more ease and vigor. These adaptations are ‘functional’, in that they will improve your functionality not only in competition, but also in daily life. Furthermore, the new model for building endurance and injury resistance, allows you to get these training goals with a much shorter time commitment.


The Old Running Training Model (click the image below to see a clear view of the old model)

Old Running Model


The New Model: The ACLAÍ System

The new model is based on effective strength and conditioning for running. The shift in paradigm for runners to improve endurance and enhance injury resistance is based on performing less overall mileage per week, and dedicating regular short periods of time to mobility training, strength training, conditioning, and low intensity resisted aerobic training. The new approach is based both on science, and on results. Let me first address the results with you.

At ACLAÍ Health and Performance, we have applied and fine tuned the new model with our athletes, and have seen staggering results. In recent months, we have had numerous successes with our new system including top ranking national athletes to weekend warriors blasting through plateaus and setting new personal bests, and many have vanquished long standing pain or mobility issues to the doldrums of a dark time gone by when clocking up the miles was ‘the only way’. Across the board, when our runners and triathletes combine their endurance training with strength, mobility, conditioning, and low intensity loaded aerobic work, their training and competition results start going through the roof. Click the image below to see a clear image of the new model.


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The underlying principle of the ACLAÍ System

The new approach being forged by ACLAÍ is so simple and holistic, that it might surprise you. Concentrating on running, or swimming, or cycling alone will get you results, but you are limiting yourself to the capacity of your body to sustain the low intensity repetitive and consistent nature of the training, therefore breaking down is inevitable. The principle behind the new paradigm is that you improving the efficiency and quality of movement through strength and mobility training, therefore increasing your body’s ability to cover the miles with ease. The second aspect of the new paradigm is that you will get specific aerobic gains from the conditioning work that will transfer directly to your sport. On the face of it, this may not seem like such a big deal, but in fact it is one of the most exciting aspects of the new system. With the right mix of low intensity loaded aerobic training, and high intensity conditioning, you will actually improve your running fitness without the high impact loads on the ankles, knees, and hips. If you have had pain in any of these areas, the previous sentence should be screaming out at you! This is especially pertinent if you want to avoid future injury, or if you are at the latter stages of your sporting career, and you want to reserve the miles that are left in the legs for the fantastic summer days where you are running with abandon, breathing in the fresh air, and enjoying every minute of the sport that you love with your friends.


The science behind the practice

At ACLAÍ Health and Performance, we are experts in the field of strength and conditioning. While we are acutely aware that learning is a lifelong process, the results of our athletes speak for themselves, and we know that we know our stuff. That doesn’t mean that I automatically want you to take my word for it that our new model for exploding your training results is the way forward. This area has been well researched for years.


  • Leena et al. (1998) showed that explosive strength training improves running economy, muscle power, and actually reduces 5km run time.
  • Ellery et al. (2012) found improved power output and improved time to exhaustion from implementing a strength training protocol.
  • Beni et al. (2011) highlighted that combined strength and aerobic training can prevent cardiovascular disease


Considerations for getting started

Making the shift to the ACLAÍ system of training is going to serve you superbly for in the short term (this season and next season), and more importantly in the long term (for the rest of your life), with improved joint integrity, and increased functionality in your daily life. However, it is not simply a case of hitting the gym a couple of times per week. To get the results you want, you need to have the perfect mix of competition specific training, strength work, mobility, and conditioning. Knowing when to add in more of each element throughout the season, and having a program that considers your individual goals, competitions, and risk factors such as injury risk really is the key to success with our new model. At ACLAÍ Health and Performance, we have a thorough functional assessment process to identify the areas that need to be focused on for each individual, a goal setting system to get you to your target, and a cutting edge nutrition program that is the crown jewel of our training program. All these elements are deserving of their own article, and are slightly off topic here, but it is crucial that you are aware of them from the start.

You need to implement the new model for improving running performance and building injury resistance with care, and under expert guidance. That is the very reason that we offer complimentary consultations with a strength and conditioning expert, and have constructed our training courses based on the new model that we have developed. As the top personal training facility in Cork, and the strength and conditioning team for the Cork Senior Football team, we only have the capacity to take a limited number of new clients per month, but that means that we take extra care with each and every athlete that we take on, and ensure that they achieve their training, competition, and long term goals.

Realize your talent, and maximize your potential

If you are interested in reaching your potential as an athlete, and setting yourself up for many years of injury free enjoyment of your sport, the time is now to step off the train that is on the direct route to injury and limited performance. Realize your talent, and maximize your potential by adopting this fresh approach. When you start to see the short-term results you will wonder why you had not done this before, and when you start smashing your personal bests and people are asking you what you are doing differently, you can tell people that you have adopted the ACLAÍ system of training and send them our way. That is exactly why we are the top strength and conditioning and personal training facility in Cork. With results, happy athletes, and a galvanized fail-proof system for achieving athletic success.





  1. Ray Finan on said:

    Fantastic article!
    Load management is an essential part of endurance training and the ACLAÍ system programmes for it perfectly.
    I’ll be adapting it for use with all my own clients.
    Keep up the good work!!

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