Why Should Runners Strength Train
- 2nd March 2019
For runners, “training” means running. But alongside running it’s great for runners to have a good mix of activities as part of their training including strength training and conditioning. Not only does it help prevent injury by mixing up the demands placed upon your body from repetitive activity, but it also gives the opportunity to build strength, flexibility and other aspects of fitness that will actually help your running.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but strength training helps you run faster! Strength training places stress on your body in the form of resistance (weights), which prompts your body to adapt and make changes in order to increase its ability to withstand that stress. Strength training also increases your muscular endurance and anaerobic power, making it easier to tackle that final kick in a race.
How Does Strength Training Help Running?
The repetitive nature of running (pounding the pavement) leaves runners highly susceptible to injuries. In addition to stronger muscles, strength training creates positive adaptations in your bones and connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, fascia, and cartilage) which can help mitigate and prevent overuse injuries like stress fractures.
Just as your muscles respond to the stress of resistance by growing stronger, stronger muscles exert a greater pull on the bones they attach to, causing the bone and the structures around it to respond by growing stronger. Bigger and stronger bones, thicker cartilage, and sturdier and stiffer connective tissues help runners withstand and absorb more pavement pounding. The Achilles tendon in the heel and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee are prime examples of how important connective tissue strength is for runners.
Benefits of Strength Training For Runners
A strength training program designed specifically for runners will focus on correcting the muscular strength imbalances that cause bad movement mechanics. This is especially important for your quadriceps and hamstrings—most runners have super strong quads (front of the body) and super weak hams (back of the body), which can alter your stride and cause injury. By evening out these imbalances, you can “turn any” any inhibited and weak muscles and achieve better, more efficient running form.
Improved durability also unlocks your capacity to run a bit more, a bit harder. Training at higher intensities—whether it’s a faster pace to hit a PR or longer distances to train for a half or full marathon—allows you to achieve new levels of performance previously unattainable.
Supplementing running with strength training exercises will not only help you prevent injury, but it will also make you a stronger, faster, and more efficient runner. Runners need a different strength-training program than your standard gym routine. Instead of pushing weight away from the body with bicep curls, leg extensions, and bench presses, runners should focus on targeting the key muscles that will keep them balanced and moving forward.