Strength Training From Body Weight Exercises to Major Lifting with Endurance Specialist Doctor Alex Harrison

From body weight strength training to heavy lifting: When and Why

If you are only running every day, you may be hindering your training. Cross training is extremely important to be at your best and today’s guest will speak to us about how to use cross training, specifically strength training, for ultimate results in your annual running plan. From body weight strength training to weightlifting, Dr. Alex Harrison will talk to us about how to use strength conditioning and proper nutrition for better running results.

Endurance specialist Doctor Alex Harrison

Dr. Alex Harrison has years of competition, coaching experience, and the education to know how to deal with endurance athletes – from beginners to elite level.

With a PhD in Sport Physiology and Performance and a Master’s Degree in Human Movement and Performance his professional level of knowledge is significant. He has also competed for Team USA as a Bobsledder at the World Championships and is a two-time All-American in the Decathlon & Javelin Throw, in NCAA Division II Track and Field.

Alex has also competed in weight lifting at the collegiate national level and competed in high school track and field, Cross Country, Swimming, Baseball, and Tennis. You can see more of his credentials by visiting his full bio in the links below.

Having competed as a bobsledder for Team USA for a few years and he is now happily retired. He spends free time training for triathlon alongside his wife, Michelle, who also joined the ranks of the Renaissance Periodization consultants in 2019. They also have a dog, aptly named Dash. He currently participates in Road Cycling and Track Cycling Competitions, and Recreational Triathlons

Take a listen and consider how adding runner-specific weight training could take you to your next PR.


Questions Alex is asked:

3:17 First Four:

  1. How old are you?
  2. Where were you born?
  3. Where do you live now?
  4. What is your favorite workout? 

5:35 In your experience, what are the benefits of cross training and strength training for endurance athletes?

6:45 How have you used this in your own training?

8:04 As long distance runners, what type of strength should we be focusing on?

9:56 What do you mean by a ‘Power Clean’ exercise?

10:30 How much weight should we use?

11:03 How does that make runners faster?

12:25 How do you perform this exercise and how many reps and sets should we do starting out?

13:27 Does strength training help with running efficiency?

14:10 How long would it take to get to a point of sparing energy while running and how much is spared?

15:24 What percentage of speed increase is a marathoner likely to see after starting strength training?

15:54 Can you define and differentiate ‘body weight’, ‘strength training’, and ‘weight lifting’ and how runners would use them?

17:16 How would this work with older runners?

18:10 How important is using a coach when getting started?

18:42 What is an optimal amount of weekly strength training over an annual training plan?

20:07 How does periodization differ between training for shorter vs. longer distances?

21:26 What does an average week of strength training look like in a low-volume / maintenance period?

25:32 If someone wants to be a little more muscular or add some definition, how would a novice include that in their training?

27:00 How does nutrition fit into training for speed?

29:26 Why should protein be included in every meal and what are your thoughts on protein powders?

31:40 When and what level of strength training is most beneficial to runners whose priority is to run better, faster, and without injury?

33:23 What are the pros and cons of heavy lifting as a runner?

35:52 How does how we eat differ throughout an annual plan to run better?

38:12 How would you take in calories while working out, how much and in what form?

39:46 Do you need to practice workout fueling to find out what works and doesn’t from a GI standpoint?

40:47 What about hydration?

42:28 Should you take nutrients with hydrations and why?

43:11 What about salt tablets?

44:25 Does the temperature of your hydration liquid matter?

44:54 What is your book called and where is it available?

45:23 Other thoughts?

45:57 What are some plyometric exercises we could do if we didn’t have access to weights?

47:46 Final Kick Round:

  1. What is your favorite local training run or outing (location, starting point, parking, distance, terrain and safety issues)?
  2. Favorite book(s), video or resource? 
  3. Who or what would you like to have featured on the Run To The Top podcast?


“Stronger tissues, stronger muscles, stronger connective tissue is just more resistant to the volume of training that is required for endurance performance.”

“Go to a gym and get trained to move explosively with weights and your running performance will be enhanced.”

“Beyond the speed and power and being able to call upon that reserve of speed that you might have, it spares energy while you run at the same pace; you will actually use less energy at that pace.”

“You will be able to cover a mile using less energy at the same pace, less oxygen, less carbohydrate by doing weight training alone.”

“Your diet should always fuel whatever training you’re doing. If you’re doing less running volume in whatever offseason that you have, you need to be eating maybe less carbohydrate during that time, because you’re not burning as much glycogen because you’re simply running less.”

“Cheap protein powders are, honestly, usually the best ones.” 


Take a Listen on Your Next Run


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Mentioned in this podcast: 

Run To The Top Winners Circle Facebook Community

RunnersConnect Facebook page

Dr. Alex Harrison

Book: The RP Diet for Endurance by Dr. Alex Harrison, Michelle Howe, and Dr. Melissa Davis

Book: Principles and Practice of Resistance Training by Michael H. Stone, Meg Stone, William A. Sands

Dr. Michael Stone

Dr. Meg Stone

Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm Trail


Follow Alex on:

Renaissance Periodization


RP Instagram


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