Strength training as a runner is a hotly debated topic. How much to do, when to do it, what kind to do? No matter what your answer is, at the most basic level, strength training as a runner makes sense. The more powerful your legs are, the more force they can put into the ground with each step. This means you’ll be able to propel further forward at a faster rate without any increased effort. The stronger your core is the better your running form will be. If you’re not including muscle building activities in your training plan, you’ll miss out on all the bone density increasing, injury preventing, faster running and better form benefits it provides.
If strength training as a runner has so many benefits, what’s the problem? Most runners aren’t sure how to add these types of workouts to already packed training schedules and end up leaving it out altogether. This can lead to unwanted muscle imbalances, injuries and plateaus in race times. Luckily, there are lots of ways to add strength training to your routine that won’t cramp your program and the best news is there aren’t any hard and fast rules for strength training as a runner (other than you have to do it!).
Want to try running in deep sand? Requiring 60% more effort than running on pavement, that slippery sand works your calves, feet and ankles overtime as they try to stay stable on a moving surface.
How about Crossfit? High intensity strength building workouts can replace easy ‘junk’ miles with lots benefits. Increased bone density, mobility and balance will all make your more durable and prevent common overuse injuries.
Plyometrics and other body weight exercises are fantastic ways to build a better runner. Burpees, box jumps, push-ups, pull-ups and jump rope require little space and a small investment in equipment. Running hills counts, too, especially if you don’t have the beach to run on.
Mobility work and yoga is must for any runner, even if it’s just a foam roller followed by a few sequences at home. Aiding in recovery, stretching and massaging will help muscles recover from workouts as well as eliminate imbalances that can lead to injury or poor form.
Get stronger and lower race times by using these tips for strength training as a runner to start today!