Strength work is the perfect complement to a runner’s training plan and what I consider to be ideal cross training.
One of the primary benefits is that it’s a superb tool for injury prevention. Runners tend to experience alarmingly high injury rates, it is perhaps the most useful cross training method for them.
The stronger you get, the more resilient your body will become to the demands of running. Strength training helps to improve structural weaknesses in your body, whether in the muscles, joints or connective tissues.
If you have tight or weak hips, this can cause compensations elsewhere that could result in knee injuries. Strengthening the hips and glutes (the backside) is the one of the best injury prevention measures a runner can take. Strength training also builds good core strength – a strong core will not only look great but it’ll also help contribute to better posture during the day and whilst running.
Whether you simply want to run pain-free or want to shave some time off your favourite distance, strength training will help.
Many of the other benefits from strength training include higher energy levels, increased bone density, a stronger metabolism and less body fat.
So let’s get started…
Your body will adapt to any kind of resistance, it doesn’t matter where it comes from, free weights at the gym, bodyweight exercises in your living room, or a kettlebell workout.
Start by using a simple approach at the beginning.
Focus on compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups, such as squats, deadlifts, bench press and overhead press.
You can also do bodyweight exercises - plank, side planks, glute bridges, mountain climbers, press ups, bodyweight squats, lunges.
Pick 4 – 6 exercises from the above suggestions and perform 1 – 3 sets, 12 – 15 reps. As you progress, make the workouts longer and start to add some weight.
SAMPLE WORKOUT FOR RUNNERS
Repeat the following circuit 2-3 times, with no rest between exercises and 1-2 minutes rest between circuits:
1. Bodyweight squats
2. Press ups
3. Walking lunges
4. Side plank (both sides)
5. Glute bridges
Note: Perform all sets until you’ve reached about 80% of your maximum effort.
One or two 10 or 20 minute sessions per week will be more than enough for most beginners. As you progress, you can increase the duration and frequency of your sessions to make them more challenging.
Remember not to overwhelm yourself during the first few weeks. It’s fine to ease into strength training slowly if you haven’t been doing it regularly before. See how your body responds.