Updated: Dec 2, 2020
“Strength training is an important component in most professional sports; too many distance runners leave certain performance variables to chance when they forego regular strength training” (1)
(Strength Coach to USA elite runners)
What Are The Benefits Of Strength Training For Runners?
Are you looking to improve either your running distance and speed or to simply mix up your running plan and prevent boredom? In a recent study of 14,000 across the UK by Asics it was reported that 43% were exercising more regularly now than before the COVID-19 pandemic. The better news, 62% said that they would keep up with their new exercise regime after the Coronavirus lockdown. Part of this increase in exercise has been people in the UK taking up running on a regular basis; the fitness tracker app Runkeeper saw a rise in registrations of 667% during April 2020 and of these 98% were heading out for a weekly run across the UK (2).
Whether you are a regular runner, a recreational runner, competitive runner, couch to 5k runner or a newfound Boris hour runner there are great benefits of including strength training into your weekly running plans and these can be experienced by both trained and untrained, men and women of all ages (3).
What Are The Benefits Of Including Strength Training For A Runner?
Adding strength training to your current running regime can improve both your strength and power. Improving these neuromuscular performers can improve your speed and oxygen efficiency (3). By adding strength work you can accomplish three main goals (4):
Improve your running economy
In addition to these, Men’s Running UK states that the benefits of strength training to running include (5):
Increasing lean muscle mass
Reducing body fat
Fixing muscular imbalances
At any given pace the less energy and oxygen you use the better. It is believed by many exercise scientists that there are three critical determinants to distance running performance (6):
VO2 max: upper limited of oxygen consumption at a given time
Lactate threshold: level of your aerobic capacity that you can sustain for a long
Running economy: efficiency at converting that oxygen consumption into forward motion (running)
How Do We Improve Our Running Economy?
We now know that running economy is believed to be a critical determinant of running performance and this can be improved by adding strength training to your exercise regime. Peer-reviewed research suggests that from adding strength training, your running performance can be improved: both your running economy and time to exhaustion. Improving your running economy can improve your coordination and stride efficiency. So how does this all work? By adding strength training you can strengthen your muscles and connective tissues (tendons and ligaments) helping you to run faster and in addition reduce your risk of injury. This is all achieved through improving your neuromuscular coordination (both nerves and muscle (7) and power to boost your running economy (6).
How Do I Add Strength Training To My Weekly Routine?
If you are unsure how to include strength training into your workouts, please get in touch with here at Probalance Training in Manchester to book a free consultation and discuss a strength training plan and your running regime.
Article Written by Jade Mottley – Fitness & Nutrition Coach / Health Writer
Instagram / Twitter: @Jademottley