Strength training is a form of exercise completed against resistance, and is the key to building muscle mass, and improving overall fitness and athletic performance. However, most runners neglect or in some cases avoid strength training in favour of getting more miles under their belt. In fact, It’s a common misconception that strength training is more relevant to those who run sprints or shorter distances where speed, strength, and power are more important.
Whether you’re a long-distance runner, a sprinter or simply run for fun and overall health, here are 3 reasons why incorporating strength training into your weekly routine could improve your performance.
1. INJURY PREVENTION
As you run you are sending multiple times your own body weight through each leg as it strikes the ground. Imagine how much strain even a 5k could have on your ankles, knees, and hips after they’ve endured such immense repetitive force.
Our bodies are strong and can typically take this but they’re not infallible, and there is a clear risk of injury. Your body would be much better equipped to handle this pressure and more resilient to injury if the muscles surrounding your joints were strong!
Incorporating strengthening focused on key muscles in the lower body and core such as your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and abdominals, into your weekly routine will build strength, increase support, balance, and stability in your joints, and it will help keep you injury free and much more capable of running later in life!
2. IMPROVE ENDURANCE
Believe it or not, the stronger you are the more potential you have to run further and faster. When you increase your maximal strength, you have a higher opportunity to build your endurance capabilities.
What does that mean? Simply put, the ability to produce more force and produce more power means running those same distances will feel easier and therefore you will be capable of running faster!
3. BECOME MORE ENERGY EFFICIENT
This ties in with number two but it’s worth knowing as it will give you the incentive to want to build strength and more power!
Compliment your strength training by adding plyometric (jump) training into your programme, such as basic hops and jumps. Even at a lower level, plyometric training is especially helpful for running long distances, as it helps you improve how fast you can generate force.
Jump (plyometric) training also strengthens the ankles making you more efficient and “springier” as you run! This means less wasted energy when you run longer distances, and it will help improve your stability and prevent injury.
So, there we have it!
We would recommend that you start easy by building strength with simple exercises first. Be sure to add some “single leg” exercises such as step-ups, and single leg presses as running requires a great deal of single leg strength. Once a foundation of strength has been built you can also incorporate some gentle jump training into your routine.
If you would like to consult one of our Coaches for further advice on how you can improve your performance by incorporating strength training into your exercise programme please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +44 20 7315 4260 .
Written by Daryl Richards, Senior Coach