Whenever the topic of strength training and running comes up amongst my friends, most of them tend to respond with, “Wait, I’m supposed to do something other than running?” Supplementing running with strengthening exercises will not only aid in injury prevention but will make you a stronger, faster and more efficient runner.
Benefits of Strength Training
There’s plenty of research to back up the idea that strength work and running should go hand in hand. Resistance training has even been shown to have the potential to significantly improve ‘running economy’ meaning that when you are stronger you are a more efficient runner.
For instance, one study that had a group of distance runners subscribe to a 10-week strength training program found that they improved their running economy by 4 percent. For a four-hour marathoner that could potentially mean knocking a whopping 10 minutes off his or her finishing time.
“It’s highly recommended that runners adjust their strength and conditioning schedule to mirror their running training” explains Jason Jackson, master trainer and PT to the elite. “The two will complement each other rather than compete for time and attention. When paired together correctly, strength workouts and a running program are the perfect duo to get you over the finish line feeling strong.”
He also suggests that quad-to-hamstring strength imbalances often result when a runner isn’t including a variety of exercises in his or her training repertoire. “Running is a distinctly forward movement, so if you’re putting in a lot of mileage but not spending enough time devoted to supplementary work, like strength training and/or yoga, you may be undercutting your run ability.”
Always helps to be prepared! Leggings and top by Ruyi, Nike trainers, Trek protein bar, banana, Innocent coconut water.
Sample Strength Training Program
When it comes to strength training for running it is important to implement a mix of upper and lower body exercises as well as core work. Instead of pushing weight away from the body with bicep curls, leg extensions and bench presses, runners should focus on targeting the key muscle groups that will keep them balanced.
Here are a few strengthening techniques that will help you variate from the traditional squat and can make important gains in running specific strength. Do these 2-3 times a week to not overwork those specific muscles but achieve noticeable progress within six weeks.
Get down into push-up position, but instead of bracing your upper body with your hands, lower your upper body down to support yourself with your forearms. Be sure to keep your backside down, so a straight line could be drawn from the top of your head down to your ankles. Hold that position for 30 seconds, take a break and try it again. 3×30 seconds
Standing straight with your feet together, step forward with your right leg and lower your body downward. Be sure to keep your right knee in alignment with your ankle, not over your toes. Come down to a 90-degree angle, rise back up, and lunge with the left leg. 15 reps each leg, 3 sets or until fatigued
On all fours, kick your right leg back and upward in a deliberate, smooth motion. Bring the leg back to the original position and kick up again. 15 reps each side, 3 sets or until fatigued
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms at your sides. Engage your hamstrings and lift your backside off the floor until your knees, hips and shoulders are aligned. Hold for two seconds and lower back down. 15 reps, 3 sets or until fatigued
Medicine Ball Twists*
Sit in sit-up position and hold a medicine ball at the center of your body. Twist right and then left, 20 times on each side. 3×20 reps
*if you don’t have a medicine ball find something suitably weighted but always ensure safety first. I have used my Helmut Newton coffee table book when there was nothing else!
The repetitive up and down motion of jogging/running puts a massive stress on the unconditioned body but since my stomach muscles and thigh muscles have become leaner and more toned there is less ‘give’ with each step and so less fatigue.
Over the last eight weeks I have been focused on putting these techniques in to practice and the difference is remarkable (even if I say so myself!)
Post workout protein powder from Neat Nutrition