Have you ever felt your form slipping during a run and all of a sudden your whole body feels fatigued and you have to take a break? Your arms go limp, and your torso starts to twist. Soon, your legs begin to fatigue because of all the energy spent trying to keep your body upright. When you lose your running form, you are at greater risk of injury. Other muscles must take over and compensate for your weak spots. Strength training helps you maintain proper form while running, as well as help you increase your flexibility and range of motion.
Resistance training improves your stride, stabilizes your form, reduces the chance of injury, increases your power; translating to faster more efficient running. Multiple studies prove that regular strength training helps running economy (how well your body uses oxygen) by about 8%. This means better muscular endurance and speed!
There are many forms of resistance training; Calisthenics (body weight), free weights, machines, kettlebell etc.
Your entire body is involved with each stride. Strong arms help propel you and maintain a strong cadence. Strong core and back muscles help you keep good form throughout your run resulting in less wasted energy. Strong hips will improve your stability. Working your legs (hamstrings, glutes, quads, calves) will help you produce more power to become faster and conquer all type of terrain as well as help prevent injury by helping you build a solid foundation to absorb impact.
Many runners neglect leg work because the belief is that running is enough to keep your limbs strong. This could not be farther from the truth. Solely running results in overuse injuries (runners knee, IT band syndrome, etc.) which can put you out for quite some time.
How to get Started: This beginner leg exercise works your hamstrings, glutes, calves, quads, and balance all in one simple exercise! As this gets easier start adding small increments of weight.
Start with 2 rounds of 12-15 each leg 2 times per week
Working your upper body improves your posture resulting in less wasted energy. Running with your shoulders back and chest open is far more conducive to momentous arm swings and increased respiratory efficiency!
How to get Started: This beginner TRX exercise works your shoulders, back, arms, and core! I LOVE TRX training, it is a great step up from plain body weight exercises. TRX helps you improve your posture as you are forced to hold good form to do the exercises! To make this exercise more difficult just walk your feet closer to the anchor point.
Start with 8-10 reps 2 times per week.
Training your hips and core provides stability throughout your body by reducing the twisting motion that often develops as fatigue sets in.
How to get Started: This beginner exercise works your hips, glutes, hamstrings, and core. I love this one because it is easy to progress by either elevating 1 leg, adding a weight to rest on your hips, putting your back on a bench; so many possibilities!
Start with 15 reps 2 times a week.
The Takeaway: Weight training is not your enemy. Contrary to common assumptions, weight training will not slow you down or cause you to pack on bulky muscle. It will help you become faster, stronger, and more efficient. You don’t have to be lifting 5 times a week but I do recommend at least twice for 20-30 minutes. Add it to the end of your interval session so you get all the hard work done in one day. Add this healthy regimen to your training and you will soon be stronger, more balanced, and most importantly, less susceptible to injury!