For many runners strength training is not a priority as their focus is purely on running and getting all their run sessions in for the week whether it be long or shorter distances. The reality is that having a strong body when running is so important when it comes to your running speed, your ability to recover from a training session and also being able to minimise your risk of injury. Health and fitness expert, Kim Beach shares the four types of training that will increase strength.
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In my opinion all runners should be adding in some type of strength training into their training week. When I say strength training I am not talking about body building, I am simply saying adding in some weight training to give your body the strength it needs to run well over long or shorter distances.
Depending on what distance you are running with depend on what type of weight training you will need to focus on. For example a sprinter will be incorporating a lot more explosive exercises focusing on strength and power with minimal reps which will give them the power they need to explode when they hear the gun go off at the starting line whereas a distance runner will be more focused on weight training with more reps around 12-15 per set and building their strength endurance.
Being able to strengthen your muscles and joints is so important especially when you are a runner. A lot of stress is put on your body when running and if you have strong muscles and joints your risk of injury will be low.
Here are some examples of different types of training that runners can incorporate to improve their strength:
Body weight training
This is great as you can do it from anywhere. So using your body as the weight throughout your session to perform such exercises as the push up or lunge etc. As these sessions get easier you can slow down each rep or increase the number of reps per set you are doing.
Weight training is essential
If you are a distance runner you will want to focus on 12-15 reps per set and making sure your technique is perfect. If you are not currently weight training it would be a great idea to get a personal trainer to go through you first session to critique your technique. Another benefit to weight training is that it is a great way to aid in bringing your body fat down, as the more lean muscle you can build on your body the more fat you will burn by doing absolutely nothing as you will burn more energy in order to maintain it on your body. As a runner your legs are everything so focusing on some squats, lunges, deadlifts etc is essential to strengthen up your quads, hamstrings and glutes. In saying that you also need great upper body strength as your arms are just as important to keep your rhythm and pace throughout your race.
High Intensity Interval Training sessions are awesome at maintaining your strength. These sessions last around 20-30 minutes and are designed to get your heart rate up whilst also testing your both mentally and physically. Some examples are sprints or running stairs both of which are great leg workouts as well.
Yoga or Pilates
When it comes to running it is really important you have a strong core so a yoga or Pilates class is a great way to work on your core strength. If you can’t get to any of these classes add in some core work to most of your training sessions.
Another really important point to make is about taking the time to stretch properly in your warm up and cool down. When you start weight training your body will become sore after sessions and it will also tend to be tighter than usual. So having a good stretching routine that will take around 10-15 minutes is really important.
So plan out your training schedule and add in some weight sessions. Don’t go overboard thinking you need to do more weight sessions as your muscles grow at rest so making sure your body recovers well is just as important as the training sessions itself. I would advise 2 strength training sessions a week with a good 72 hours in between each session.
Bring on some amazing strength gains and happy running.