Strength Training for Runners

To read the full article click HERE.  Parts of this article have been used in the blog post below.  Words that in italics have been pulled directly from the original article.  Credit for the original article goes to Jason Fitzgerald.

When I ran across this article, it simply made me smile 🙂  I simply had to dive in and read it..in fact I read it twice.  It is nice that Mr. Fitzgerald doesn’t use that many words or big words for that matter as well.  He talks about strength training for runners and the benefits of doing so.  What, strength training for running you say!  Absolutely!  There are incredible benefits to increasing ones strength.

“The benefits of strength training for runners are real — for both injury prevention and performance. So if the goal is to simply run easier with less pain or get faster in your next race, try adding a few strength sessions every week. Using runner-specific strength exercises will increase structuralfitness — the ability of your bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles to withstand the impact of running. Several studies have shown that while most forms of strength training can help improve overall performance, adding heavy resistance exercises can make you faster during the final sprint of a race [1] [2].

Strength work is especially important for injury-prone runners and those who are putting in a lot of miles. So for marathoners, that means at least three strength workouts every week! While building your aerobic engine (read: endurance) through running, it’s key to counteract all that wear and tear with the right exercises.”

Most of the runners I train include some strength training.  Some more than others but often times I wonder why I am not having every single runner I train (I am currently training 5 marathon runners) do more strength training than I do.  Running is more than just lacing up a pair of running shoes and hitting the road or the trails.  Distance running requires endurance and strength in virtually every part of their bodies.  There can be no weak links as weak links will lead to a failure in some part of the body and that failure could end up resulting in injury.

I have been a long time believer in strength training and over the past year I have gained almost 10lbs of muscle mass and haven’t gotten one step slower.  In fact, I have never been faster.  Increased muscle strength and density with specific focus on the muscles that are most used and abused during distance running events are the muscles that need to be trained the most.

Since many of us live fairly sedentary lives in front of a computer all day, it’s no wonder running injuries are so common — we’ve lost all our strength! But which exercises are most effective for runners?

“The best exercises for runners train movements, not muscles. So stick to compound, multi-joint exercises in the gym. Some of the classics include deadlifts, squats, pull-ups, chin-ups, bench press, and step-ups onto an elevated platform. These exercises target functional movements you do in real life, like bending down, pushing and pulling things, and picking things up. (Above all else, make sure your form is correct!) Complement these with a good dose of bodyweight exercises you can do in your living room after an easy run (here’s an eight week progression you can follow).

Bodyweight routines are more restorative and help you recover from running while still building the strength needed to help prevent future overuse injuries. A majority of running injuries are caused byweak hips — a major problem area for runners who sit for most of the day. One solution is the ITB Rehab Routine, a series of exercises that treats and prevents IT band injuries but also works well for general injury prevention. It focuses on hip and glute strength — two of the most important stabilizing muscles that are used while running.

Other effective exercises you can do almost anywhere include lunges, planks, pistol squats, push-ups, side planks, bird-dogs, and side leg lifts. All of these build the core strength you need to prevent injuries and get stronger.

Strength session can be quick, too: Simply pick 3-5 exercises and do 2-3 sets each, aiming for 4-8 repetitions. And don’t be afraid to lift heavy: Remember, heavy weight helps runners! Just keep in mind these are more intense and should be done just 1-2 times every week.”

I am NOT a huge fan of lifting “weights” as I find that I can just as good of a workout using my own body and a band or two.  I strive for absolutely simplicity with regards to my own workouts and for those that I train.  Doing body weight exercises that focus on every muscle group is my goal.

In the final analysis the end result of strength training for runners is that if done correctly your risk of injury will be diminished greatly.  By reducing your down time from injury you will be able to run more and run faster.

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