When you sign up for a race, one of the first things you probably do after you receive your registration confirmation is start daydreaming about your race day goals. And once you have a few potential goals in mind, you develop a training plan. Whether that’s a plan that you develop yourself, or whether it’s one that you source from a running book or website, or a custom plan developed by a running coach, a training plan is a critical part of crossing the finish line in one piece. I would be willing to bet this training plan includes long runs, easy runs, tempo runs, and perhaps speed work. It may specify specific modes of recovery like foam rolling and stretching, and may include specific cross-training exercises. But does it include strength training?
Ok, I know what’s running through your head right now. “Strength training? Why do I need that? I’m a runner. I’m focused on being long and lean and quick on my feet. Strength training will just make me bulky.” There are quite a few different reasons that I advocate for strength training as part of a safe and effective training plan, but the most important is injury prevention. A recent study found that “strength training significantly reduced the occurrence of sports injuries and injuries related to overuse” (Source). Endurance running means you are repeating the same motion hundreds and hundreds of times over the course of your training so overuse injuries can happen if you are not taking care of your body.
In addition to helping you avoid injury, strength training will make you stronger – pretty self explanatory, right? Being stronger will make you a better runner. It may help you improve your speed, improve your cadence, or enable you to better recover from hard workouts. In other words, it will benefit you in ways that you may surprise you.
While adding strength training to your already busy training schedule can feel like a huge burden, I’m here to tell you that it does not have to be a major time suck. In 20-30 minutes, three to four days per week, you can make some meaningful improvements in your strength, mobility, and flexibility. Consider the time you spend on strength training time that you are investing in your running bank account. It will pay dividends later!
If you are just starting out with strength training, it can be hard to know where to begin. There are countless resources on the internet and it can be easy to become overwhelmed. Here are a few resources that are a great starting point:
- Runner’s World, 10 Essential Strength Training Exercises for Runners
- Competitor.com, How Runners Can Train the Posterior Chain
If you are still pondering how best to integrate strength training into your running training plan, I can help! I offer a specific strength training for runners program that will help you strengthen and target specific muscles and muscle groups for optimal running performance and strength. It will help take the guess work out of the process and help you avoid injury and improve your running performance.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to add strength training to your next training plan to help you avoid injury and become a better runner!
Christine Suter is a NASM certified personal trainer, and enjoys helping adults reach their health and wellness goals. Like Megan, she is also a runDisney enthusiast and enjoys the challenge of training for and racing in endurance running events. Christine offers in-person and virtual personal training services plus a dedicated strength training for runners program. You can learn more about these programs on her website here.