Strength Training & The Powerful Impact on Running Performance

Strength Training For Runners

Running enthusiasts often focus solely on logging miles to enhance their performance. While endurance is undeniably crucial, integrating strength training into your regimen can be the game changer you’ve been searching for. In this blog, we’ll explore the relationship between strength training and running speed, along with key exercises to propel you forward.

How Does Strength Improve Running Speed?

Muscular Strength

At the core of enhanced running speed lies muscular strength. Engaging in targeted strength exercises builds the muscles involved in running, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. A strong foundation translates into increased force production, allowing you to push off the ground more forcefully with each stride.

Improved Running Economy

Strength training not only makes you stronger but also refines your running economy. It fine- tunes your body’s biomechanics, reducing unnecessary energy expenditure. Imagine each stride becoming more efficient, requiring less energy to cover the same distance. This is the promise of a body finely tuned through training your strength .

Injury Prevention

As a runner, the last thing you want is an injury hindering your progress. Strength training reinforces muscles and joints, acting as a protective shield against common running injuries. A resilient body is a fast body, and strength training is your insurance policy against the setbacks of the road.

Does Strength Help with Distance Running?

The benefits of strength training extend beyond sprinters. Distance runners, too, reap rewards. Strengthening your muscles allows for sustained power output, crucial for maintaining pace during long distance runs. It’s not just about speed; it’s about maintaining that speed when the finish line seems miles away.

Mental Toughness

Endurance is not solely a physical attribute, it’s also a mental game. Strength training challenges your mental resilience, preparing you for the mental hurdles of distance running. When fatigue sets in, a strong mind pushes you forward when your body wants to slow down.

How Many Times Should You Strength Train as a Runner?

The frequency depends on various factors, including your running goals, fitness level, and overall schedule. However, a general guideline is incorporating strength training 2-3 times a week. This frequency strikes a balance between reaping the benefits and allowing for proper recovery.

Listen to Your Body

While consistency is key, it’s equally important to listen to your body. Overtraining can lead to fatigue and increased injury risk. Pay attention to how your body responds and adjust your training frequency accordingly.

How Do You Combine Strength Training and Running?

Strategic Integration
Successfully combining strength training and running involves strategic planning. Schedule strength sessions on non-running days or after easy runs to avoid interference with key running workouts. This ensures you reap the benefits of both without compromising performance.

Dynamic Warm-ups
Incorporate dynamic warm-up routines that activate the muscles used in running and the ones targeted during strength training. This primes your body for the demands ahead and will minimise the risk of injury. Dynamic warm-ups are essential to prepare your body for the demands of both strength training and running.

Here are two examples of dynamic warm up exercises that target muscles used in running and those involved in strength training;

Leg Swings:

Stand next to a wall or sturdy support for balance.
Swing one leg forward and backward in a controlled manner.
After 10-15 swings, switch to the other leg.
Next, swing your leg sideways, crossing the midline of your body.
Again, perform 10-15 swings and switch legs.
This dynamic warm-up exercise targets the hip flexors, hamstrings, and abductors, promoting flexibility and range of motion.

High Knees:

Stand with feet hip-width apart.
Lift one knee as high as possible while driving the opposite arm forward.
Alternate legs in a running motion, keeping the pace brisk.
Aim for 20-30 seconds of high knees.
This exercise elevates your heart rate, activates your hip flexors, and enhances core engagement, preparing your body for the intensity of both running and strength training.

Strength training is the secret weapon that can propel your running speed to new heights. From improving muscular strength to enhancing running economy, the benefits are undeniable. Whether you’re a sprinter aiming for explosive speed or a distance runner seeking endurance, a well rounded approach that includes strength training can make all the difference. So, lace up your running shoes, hit the weights, and watch as your running performance reaches unprecedented levels.

Learn the top 10 Quad building exercises to further develop your strength training here

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