Strength training is something that many recreational runners, and even a lot of semi-serious runners, tend to omit from their training regimens.
The prevailing feeling of many runners is that to get faster, one simply needs to run farther and run faster.
And the prevailing feeling is wrong.
The Many Benefits of Strength Training
In most sports, the notion that lifting weights and getting stronger will improve performance is widely accepted. Football players spend hours in the weight room, as do hockey players, basketball players, and even baseball players.
So why do runners think we wouldn’t see a benefit from regular resistance training?
Here are just a few of the many benefits of strength training that runners can see if they commit to regularly doing resistance training.
- Stay Healthy–Believe it or not, endurance runners have one of the highest rates of injury of any athletes. This may sound crazy at first, but it actually makes a lot of sense. Running requires that you repeat the same motion over and over and over again, sometimes for hours without a chance to recover. Any motion that is that repetitive in nature can cause muscle imbalances and overuse injuries. But regularly performing strength training exercises, runners are able to limit muscle imbalances and strengthen the muscles that are used in running, which helps to prevent them from breaking down over time.
- Finish Stronger–Nothing is more frustrating for a runner than fading fast down the stretch (believe me!). Regular strength training helps to improve muscle endurance, so hopefully the fading will be minimized. For those of us crazies that run marathons or longer, this is especially important. Those last few miles are where you need that additional strength to make it through the finish line the most.
- Improved Running Form–This is an addendum to the previous points, but as you fatigue your form breaks down. By working on your strength and improving muscular endurance, you’ll be able to maintain good form for a longer period of time which will help you finish stronger and stay healthy. To be clear, strength training won’t improve poor running form but it will help keep your form from breaking down over the course of a longer race.
- Increased Metabolism–Strength training, without getting too technical, is a great metabolism booster because the effects of the exercise are felt for up to 36 hours after the workout is completed. Whereas running burns a lot of calories during activity, unless you’re really killing yourself in your workouts, running won’t keep burning a lot of calories once you finish your run. Strength training works exactly the opposite–not many calories burned during exercise but a continued burn for hours after exercise is complete. (If you want more info on the reasons this happens, shoot me a message and I’ll go into specifics.)
For most of us, we run to improve our overall health and push ourselves to new limits in terms of speed or distance.
Both of these goals are best achieved by including regular strength training to your routine.
If you’re not sure what kind of exercises are best for runners, stick around. I’ll be giving out some great ideas in the next post.
Do You Regularly Do Any Strength Training? What Does Your Routine Look Like?
PS–I’m working on a suggested exercise guide that I’ll be giving away to my tribe members, so if you want that just enter your best email address and I’ll get it sent out to you soon. (If you’re already in the tribe, stay patient. The guide is coming!)