One can’t argue the many benefits that running can offer, both physically and mentally.
Like any sport, the way you get better at running, is running.
Participating in, and the practice of your particular sport will help you become better and more efficient at it.
But, like all things, too much of a good thing usually turns bad. If you neglect the preparation your body needs for the intensity of your training, or the repetitive stress of running, the possibility of injury increases and performance suffers.
This is where strength training can benefit both the competitive and recreational runner. Although, there might be several reasons for runners to strength train, below you will find the 5 most common.
#1 Injury Prevention
Although there is never a guarantee that you will not become injured, one can significantly decrease the chances with strength training.
It could also help with the nagging injuries (tendon, ligaments, muscles & bone) and chronic pain that comes with the repetitive stress of running, along with preventing future injuries.
Proper programming that incorporates unilateral (single-leg) training can help to correct structural imbalances such as quad and hip flexor dominance that lead to improper motor patterns and overuse.
An example of this would be the non-dominant side of the body, which is typically weaker, could throw off your stride causing a variety of problems up and down the kinetic chain.
#2 Core & Hip Strength
Strength training with a mix of the traditional lifts, such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, push-ups, and pull ups all offer a big bang for your buck when it comes to core strength.
Adding in static holds like planks can also benefit.
The mistake I see many runners make is that this is all they do. They totally eliminate the hip component.
Running is a quad and knee dominant sport, and it’s not uncommon to find the glutes and hamstrings “turned off” on a runner.
With strength training, we want to build up the backside to help with performance allowing more force production through the ground. And, tying back into #1, allowing more control over the femur, protecting the knees, hips, ankles, and lower back.
#3 Good Posture
With a focus on #2, this will also lead to a better running posture. It’s no secret here that maintaining smooth form and gait will keep you from fatiguing quickly, or early on in your run.
The correct, upright running posture keeps better alignment of various joints and takes undo stress off areas like your low-back, hip flexors, IT band and knees, while increasing performance.
Posture also plays a big role in endurance.
When your pelvis and rib cage properly align with each other through the work of your abs, glutes and hamstrings, you actually have more efficient gas exchange and you fatigue less quickly as your diaphragm is in a better position to work.
#4 Get Faster
Studies have shown that strength training no doubt will make you faster. It’s common to see pace quicken from the increase in leg strength which helps your body efficiently produce force and energy.
With proper programming, research also suggests increased coordination, neural drive, and strength gains all playing a role in making the short and long distance runner faster.
#5 Lose Body Fat
Many folks will certainly lose weight and body fat when they first begin running.
But, this becomes harder as we actually burn less calories with our runs as we become more efficient.
At the same time, the more we run the more muscle and strength we lose.
Here is where strength training can help to burn fat and increase strength and muscle leading to better body composition and performance.
Ready to join our Winter Strength Training for Runners Groups?