Strength training 101 for running
January 22, 2019
Most runners think that the more they run, the stronger runner they become. While there is some truth to that, many top runners also strength train. Most runners have a muscle imbalance or weakness that needs to be corrected before they injure themselves. By strength training twice a week, you can greatly reduce your chances of an injury. Questions every runner has include: what to lift, when to lift and how to recover.
What to lift
Light dumbbells, kettlebells and body-weight exercises can increase strength to help runners reduce risk of injury. When you lift with the lighter weights, you want to lift to momentary failure – the point at which you cannot complete another repetition without perfect form. Select two to three exercises for the upper and lower body plus another two to three exercises that target your core and hips. Start with two sets to fatigue twice a week and build to three sets to fatigue. Squats, lunges, pushups, rows, and two legged box jumps are good exercises for your upper and lower body. Front and side planks with a leg lift are good for the core and hips.
When to lift
Runners should generally lift after their run. Lifting before you run can change your mechanics and potentially create bad habits. Either lift weights immediately after your run or on a cross-training day. Try to not lift on easy run days since those days should be used for recovery. Two weeks prior to race day, scale back your lifting. Do not lift during race week so you can recover fully for race day.
How to recover
To add lifting to your running program, take six weeks to build up your repetitions to failure. You do not want to create too much soreness that will hinder your running. Also, make sure you are getting enough protein in your diet after strength training days to help repair the muscles and reduce soreness. Drinking water will also help flush the muscles of any toxins.