We often ignore the benefits of strength training for runners. Yet, it results in a more efficient, happier runner. Why? Running more easily (through increased strength/stamina) with less injury equals a happy runner. The good news… neither a gym, nor a lot of time is needed.
Personal Strength Exercise Benefits
I started strength training January 2018. Before then, my running program was one-dimensional. I ran, ran, and ran. I didn’t think I had enough time for strength training, but was wrong. With strength training, pace and race times have improved. I’ve had fewer injuries, and am stronger. Until two months ago, I did three strength workouts per week. But, I’m down to two each week with my next marathon in six weeks. Regardless, I won’t ever go back to “just” running.
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Why is Strength Training so Important?
The benefits of strength training for runners:
- Lower injury risk. Running injuries often result from muscle imbalance and weakness. With strength exercise, leg and core muscles help maintain good form longer. This lessens injury risk and pain resulting from poor form/fatigue.
- Faster pace. Strength training improves neuromuscular power and coordination. Plus, your body uses oxygen more efficiently. That means better speed and muscle endurance.
- Improved running efficiency through increased coordination and a more efficient stride.
- Easier runs. Running is more enjoyable when it’s easier! Stronger leg/core muscles have a positive impact on endurance. Ultimately, you run longer with less fatigue.
Twice weekly strength training of ~15-20 minutes is sufficient. Some exercise reco’s are below. Plus, consider the timing of the workout(s).
Timing of Strength Exercises
Perform strength exercises on your rest day(s), or before/after a run. If combining strength exercise with a run, run first if building muscle is your priority. Run after if aerobic capacity and endurance are more important. Meaning, based on your goals, time strength training before or after the run.
Quick Strength Training Options
Perform these five leg exercises almost anywhere. Core exercises are also critical. They help legs and arms work more efficiently. Combine core and leg exercises on the same day. Or, split them up to better fit your schedule.
Here’s some other exercises if unsure where to start, and/or have more time to dedicate.
- Lower body exercises – squats, lunges, wall squats and donkey kicks
- Core strengthening exercises: Crunches, planks, bridges, V-sit, superman
- Upper body exercises: push-ups, tricep dip, military shoulder press
Now, Get Started!
Choose just a few exercises to get started, and be consistent. You’re on your way to reducing your risk of injury, and a better running experience!