Strength Training for Runners

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As a runner your primary form of exercise is probably running. That seems like a no-brainer, right?

But you may not be in the best possible shape because you’re neglecting other areas of your body. Maybe you’re struggling with injury and wondering how to get healthy and strong again.

In the book The Lore of Running Dr. Tim Noakes says that while running strengthens key muscles it can also cause a lack of flexibility in these same muscles. In the process the opposing muscles may become relatively underused and weaken. This can cause muscles imbalances which hamper your performance and even lead to injury.

I firmly believe that strength training will make you a more resilient runner. Here are six good reasons.

Benefits of Strength Training

  1. Strengthens muscles, joints and bones– high impact activity can be notoriously hard on joints. Having strong muscles will stabilize and strengthen those joints. As an added benefit strength training strengthens bones against age related degeneration. This is especially important for women.

  3. Decreases injuries– Dr. Noakes says,

    “Recent studies have shown that specific running injuries are associated either with imbalances in the relative strengths of the different muscles acting at those sites or with weakness in a specific muscle. There is clear evidence to suggest that acute muscle injuries can be prevented by strengthening muscles and eliminating muscle imbalances between opposing muscles.” (p. 783)

  4. Improved running form and economy– it takes all over muscle strength to do long training runs, marathons, and ultras. If you feel like you’re having trouble keeping good running form or your lower back is aching in the last few miles of your long run it’s probably because you need to build stronger muscles.

  6. Increased endurance– simply put, stronger muscles will work harder and longer for you. You will need all the extra power you can get during your marathon training.

  8. Burn more calories– more muscle equals a higher metabolism which will burn more calories 24/7. Research has shown that those who followed a strength training program for two months burned, on average, about 200 calories more per workout than those whose exercise regimen did not include strength training. The benefits of strength training even continue when you’re at rest. Your metabolism is elevated for some time after you workout, even if you are inactive during that time. Unlike the claims of some diet drugs, strength training may be the only thing that actually helps you lose weight while you sleep.

  10. More speed. You’ll get faster- improved muscle strength will help you cover the ground more rapidly

Here is a look at my current exercise schedule:

    My Weekly Exercise Schedule

  • Sundany = Rest
  • Monday = Run and Stretch
  • Tuesday = Power Yoga Class
  • Wednesday = Run (speed session or hills) and Lower Body Weight Training
  • Thursday = Run(easy) and Power Yoga Class
  • Friday = Upper Body Weight Training and light Cardio Workout
  • Saturday = Long Run

To Be Continued . . .

In my next post I will talk about which muscles are used primarily for running and which muscles are neglected in the running motion.

Also mentioned in this episode:
Congratulations to Terri for completing her first marathon – The Wineglass Marathon in Corning, NY. Read about it on her blog Bacon is Not an Herb

7 Responses to Strength Training for Runners

  1. trueindigo October 21, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    Thanks Angie! I am certain that without the strength training aspect of your MTA training plan, my first marathon experience would not have been nearly as celebratory!

  2. Angie October 22, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    Hi Terri. Strength training is definitely a vital aspect to running long distance and staying injury free. Your marathon success is a testimony to how hard you worked on balanced fitness. Keep up the great work!

  3. Sarah October 24, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    I’d love to see the strength workout you discussed in print. Thanks.

    • Angie November 16, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

      Hi Sarah,

      We’ve done a couple more posts with the exercises detailed. Hope that helps!

  4. Raul October 26, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

    I’ve never been much on strength training since I started my running regimen. I suppose that it would be of great benefit per the reasons given in your podcast, however, at this point I am not motivated to add this to my already hectic schedule. At this point in my life I am fortunate enough to have the time between 5AM and 6:30 AM to run daily or every other day. I shall take your thoughts and words to heart, however, and if the opportunity presents itself, add this aspect to my regular exercise schedule.

    • Angie November 16, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

      Hi Raul,

      It is hard to fit everything into a busy schedule. Be sure to listen to your body and focus more on strength training if you notice any imbalances or injuries developing. Good luck!


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