Strength exercises are important to create good running form, avoid injury, and become a more balanced runner. Here's a primer on strength training for runners, including five sets of exercise videos to show you how to do them.
Why Do Strength Training?
While runners often work mainly on their aerobic, or cardio, fitness, strength training (also called resistance training) is an important training tool.
- Achieve higher speeds and mileage by building leg strength. Consider that when you run, two-to-three times your body weight is borne by one leg at a time
- Reduce the risk of injury by correcting imbalances that occur naturally in the body, such as left-right differences, unequal knee flexion and extension strength, and imbalances in overall muscular strength
- Improve your overall running form and become a more efficient runner. When you're running a marathon, good running form may be easy at the start when you're full of energy. Towards the end, however, you're tired, and running form is what really counts!
When to do Strength Training?
To obtain the best results, perform strength exercises regularly, for instance, two or three times a week. Do your exercises on lighter training days or on rest days.
It's best to build strength in the earlier phases of your training plan and ease up on exercising as your endurance training increases. Short and middle distance runners can maintain strength training right through. Build a training plan.
What to Focus on?
As a runner you will of course want to work on your leg strength, but it's also important to develop your core muscles (chest, shoulders and back) and pelvic muscles. Training your foot and lower leg muscles (shins, calves and plantar muscles) helps to improve your push-off strength and also reduces the chance of injuries.
How to Do it?
When you start doing strength exercises, pay close attention that you're performing the exercises correctly. Some tips for effective strength exercising:
- Perform strength exercises two or three times a week.
- Start with few repetitions and build up step by step.
- Don't hold your breath while exercising. As a rule, breathe out while using strength.
- When performed correctly, you should feel a burning sensation in the exercised muscles.
- Once you are comfortable with the exercises and you have good form, you can add weights to create more resistance.
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