Strength Training For Runners

Strength training for runners is an essential part of your training and it is sometimes overlooked - benefits to endurance and injury prevention, helps with running form, improves bone strength as well as joint flexibility…

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And it’s not just about strengthening the legs; the best strength training includes the whole body, working on the arms, core, hips, legs and feet to make you a more efficient, complete runner ;-)

There are lots of strength training exercises and various forms of each one you can do, depending on your own strength and ability. You may want to add weights or resistance bands to your strength training - Kettlebell Workouts are great for upper body strength, you might want to use a stability ball (always good for a giggle!) or any amount of other toys to help you…

So here are our 10 good reasons why you should strength train:

  • Helps prevent injury
  • You will run faster
  • Burn calories more efficiently
  • Builds endurance
  • Better looking body
  • Improves running form
  • Lowers resting heart rate
  • Improves balance and co-ordination
  • Better running posture
  • Raises immune system function

First thing is to decide how much time you have to spare for strength training and whether you will be doing this at home or in the gym (?)

But for now, you can do our strength training exercises (below) in your own home and with no equipment needed

So, we are not talking about pumping iron for hours on end here, strength training for runners is more along the lines of toning and strengthening rather than body building - your muscles will power your running, making you faster and allowing you to run for longer, as well as protecting your joints by absorbing impact more efficiently

Beginner Strength Training For Runners

Starting from the feet and working your way up, try the following strength training exercises:

Towel Drag: Helps prevent plantar fasciitis and builds strong feet

Sit with bare feet, legs outstretched and put a towel at your feet on a smooth surface. Grab the towel with the toes of one foot and drag it back towards you. Do 20 toe-curls on each foot, as many reps as you like. Easy to do when you’re sat watching the telly ;-)

Eccentric Calf Raises: Stretches and strengthens the achilles tendon, and the two main calf muscles, gastocnemius and solus

Stand on the stairs with the balls of the foot on the edge (use banisters and walls to steady yourself), lift off one leg and lower the other foot down, stretching out the calf and achilles, hold at the lowest point for a couple of seconds then put down the other foot and raise up again onto the balls of both feet. Repeat 10-15 times and then change legs

This is great strength training for runners and can prevent achilles injuries ;-)

Atlernate reps with a straight leg and a bent leg as you come down. A bent leg will engage the solus more, while the straight leg will reach the gastrocnemius (the two main muscles in the calf)

If this feels too hard then keep both feet on the stair throughout until you get stronger

On the other hand, if it becomes too easy, add weight by holding dumbells or adding weight to a backpack (potatoes are good as you can keep adding more as you need to)

The Lunge: Good strength training for the knee, as well as quads, hamstrings and lower back

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, then with your right leg take a step forward (about 3 feet), go on to your tip-toes with your left foot and bend your knees to lower your body to the floor, keeping the right knee behind your toes. Straighten your right leg and move back into the starting position

One Leg Squat: Engages your core muscles, strengthens the quads and glutes - great way to build your legs!

Stand on one leg and straighten the other out in front of you, lift this leg as high as you can without falling backwards, hold the arms to the side for balance. Now SLOWLY squat down as far as you can on one leg. Repeat 5 times then change legs

Side Plank: This is good a core exercise and also strengthens the hips which is good for your running technique ;-)

Lie on right side, resting upper body on right forearm, stretch out legs in a straight line. Raise up your hips till your body is in line, hold for 10 seconds then slowly lower, repeat 5 times then change sides. To make this easier, try it with your knees on the floor. To make it harder raise the resting arm above the head and raise the resting leg up and hold

Press-Ups: Pecs, arms and shoulders

Start with your knees on the floor if you have never done press ups before and then work up to straight legs on toes. Arms should be shoulder width apart and bend to a right angle then straighten back up. Do as many as you can

That's It... You're Done!

Try to do these for a minimum of 3 times a week - if you are struggling for time then we recommend that you do the Eccentric Calf Raises, One Leg Squats and The Side Plank, but only as a bare minimum, try to do the six if you can

Running Tips HQ: 

The trick with strength training for runners is to take your time and concentrate on slow, precision movement.

It Pays To Be Srong...

It doesn’t take long to start feeling the benefits of strengthening your running muscles as they improve most aspects of running, especially running technique and injury prevention

You may want to strengthen particular areas, such as the knee or achilles which we have separate strength training exercises for and you may also want to look at strength training exercises for injury recovery 

Remember strength training for runners is most effective if you build muscle from top to bottom, gaining upper body strength as well as lower - and just because you are a runner doesn't mean you should miss out strengthening your leg muscles, they need looking after as well…

Be consistent and your body will thank you for it ;-)

For more strength training workouts, we have:

Strength Training Without Weights (10 exercises)

Stability Ball Exercises (to add more fun to your workout!)

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