For most runners, hitting the weights or a gym is like visiting the dentist. You dread the day you have to go and have fear as far as what to expect when you arrive. However, strength training holds the secret to becoming a better runner!
So why would a runner need to strength train? Well, let me ask you this, how many of you have had an injury recently that knocked you out of running for at least month? Running injuries are primarily caused by having muscle imbalances, meaning specific muscles are stronger than their antagonist muscle group (Ex. Quads and Hamstrings). In general the stronger you get, the more resilient your body will become to the demands of running; meaning the repetitive nature of running won’t wear you down as much. Plus, once your legs and core become stronger and more balanced, any preexisting conditions will be less likely to worsen because strength training helps to improve structural weaknesses in your body. For example, patellofemoral pain syndrome commonly known as Runner’s Knee is caused by having very tight or weak hips that cause the knee to compensate and take on more stress. This is one of the reasons why strengthening the hips, glutes, hamstrings, and core is crucial for any serious runner.
So what else does strength training do for a runner besides help reduce one’s chance of injury?
– Better Posture and Running Economy
– Improved Speed (Strength training teaches you to produce more force into the ground, which equates to moving faster)
– Lower Body Composition (If your diet is in line with your running and strength training!)
– Better Final Kick (Muscle fibers will become more fatigue resistant)
– Run more often! (You will begin to recover faster between runs)
So where should you start?
I recommend all runners to start resistance training two times per week for 30 minutes, preferably on days that you are not running. Simple movements that incorporate large muscle groups are my go-to for runners. These movements include squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses or simply bodyweight versions such as lunges, planks, pushups, and mountain climbers. I also recommend starting with a partner; this will allow you both to be more accountable to one another!
At Arsenal Strength, we have an accomplished marathon runner/coach that understands what it takes to be a successful runner and triathlete. We offer one-on-one run coaching, small group run coaching, and online programming, goal setting, and nutritional services all under one roof. If any of you have any questions about incorporating strength training into your marathon, half marathon, or general training plans feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!