Strength Training For Runners

Strength Training For Runners

If you are a runner, professional or recreational, you should be strength training.

This video shows my client Karen crushing the weights. Karen has picked up the running bug in the last few years, running marathons, 1/2 marathons and Spartan races. She has been able to excel and survive her race training because of her steadfast dedication to strength training and mobility work. In addition to the exercises in the video we also frequently do single leg hopping/bounding drills, KB Swings, Split Squats, Front Squats, Pull-Ups, SLDLs and Sled Drills. She’s been going hard at this for 4 years and she’s only getting faster!

Running traditionalists have long resisted the idea of strength training being beneficial to improve running performance fearing it would “bulk them up.”

Now, many forward thinking runners have come to see the value in adding in strength training to their regimen. Recent studies have shown not only that it won’t slow them down but it will actually make them faster and more resistant to injuries.
Check out some of the research below:

Running Economy:
Multiple studies have demonstrated that power training and strength training improve running performance and neuromuscular efficiency resulting in improved running economy. Participants in all the studies were able to run the same distance at a faster pace or run longer at the same pace due to a significant reduction of relative oxygen uptake from improved mechanical efficiency. One study from ACSM increased runner’s max aerobic speed by 21.3% with an 8 week strength training protocol!

Knee Pain:
A study of collegiate female athletes with patellofemoral pain showed a significant deficits of hip abduction and external rotation strength on the injured leg. An additional study of runners with lateral knee pain showed significant improvement and a full return to training following a hip strengthening protocol.

If you are a runner commit yourself to a consistent strength training program two days per week. Two hours per week of functional strength training could truly be make or break for both your body and your race time.

Cichanowski, Heather R., et al. “Hip strength in collegiate female athletes with patellofemoral pain.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise 39.8 (2007): 1227.

Strength & Conditioning: August 1995 – Volume 17 – Issue 4 – pg 7-13
Improving Running Economy Through Strength Training
Johnston, Ronald E. MS; Quinn, Timothy J. PhD; Kertzer, Robert PhD; Vroman, Neil B. PhD

Storen, Oyvind, et al. “Maximal strength training improves running economy in distance runners.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise 40.6 (2008): 1087.

Paavolainen, Leena, et al. “Explosive-strength training improves 5-km running time by improving running economy and muscle power.” Journal of applied physiology 86.5 (1999): 1527-1533.