Enhancing performance and maintaining health in distance runners

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Rich Blagrove

Middle and long-distance runners are a challenging group of athletes to work with as a strength and conditioning coach. Distance runners typically engage with large amounts of running training and the incidence of overuse type injuries is high compared to other sports. Moreover, the relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S) syndrome is common, particularly in young and highperforming distance runners. RED-S affects a wide range of physiological functions and can adversely affect health both in the short- and long-term. In this session, Richard will explore the physiological factors that underpin distance running, and the evidence that strength training modalities benefit important determinants of performance. He will address strategies to mitigate the risk of common overuse injuries and how strength and conditioning coaches can contribute to identifying and preventing RED-S in athletes. BIOG: Richard is a Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at Loughborough University and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Authority. He previously worked at Birmingham City University as Course Leader for the BSc Sport and Exercise Science, and was Programme Director of the BSc Strength and Conditioning Science at St Mary’s University from 2010-17. Richard is an Accredited Strength and Conditioning Coach and previously a Director of the UK Strength and Conditioning Association. He has provided support to numerous athletes over the last 12 years including several Olympic finalists and Paralympic athletes. In 2015 he published a book entitled ‘Strength and Conditioning for Endurance Runners’. Richard’s extensive work with middle and long-distance runners provided the inspiration for his doctoral research, which investigated the utility of strength-based exercise on the physiological determinants of performance in distance runners.