Most runners have heard about the benefits of strength training to supplement their mileage. However, when life gets busy and we have less time to work out, supplemental workouts like core work and strength exercises seem to be the first to go. I’ve learned the hard way that strength training for runners is one of the keys to preventing injury – it’s usually better to skip a few miles rather than sacrifice this important part of training.
As a running coach and marathon runner, I always make sure to incorporate strength training into my own weekly workouts as well as the training plans that I develop for clients. Strength training doesn’t need to be complicated or take a ton of time! Here are three simple ways to ensure that your strength training routine doesn’t fall to the wayside:
1. Each week, complete several short 10-15 minute strength workouts before (or after) your runs.
Most people start with a run and save core work or strength training for after, but we all know that after a tough run it can be tempting to skip the extra stuff when we are tired or rushing to move on to the next part of our day. There are some great exercises that actually help to activate important muscles for running (like the glutes) and these are great to incorporate into a warm-up. Some examples include single-leg deadlifts, squats, and lunges.
Here is a sample week of training with short strength sessions added before or after a few runs:
2. Try adding two 20 minute sessions to short or easy run days.
One of these sessions can focus on core, the other can focus on total-body strength. You can find great workouts online – The Zone is a great place to start! For your core session, try incorporating planks, bridges, and exercises using the stability ball. When thinking about total-body strength, try doing some exercises that include weights if possible, but plan these for a few days before your next tough workout, so you have time to recover!
Here is a sample week incorporating 2 strength sessions:
3. Make one day a week devoted to strength training, including core work.
Spend a good hour focusing on all your muscles, but try to change up your routine every few weeks! Plyometric exercises like jump squats and burpees are a great way to get in a bit of cardio even on a day when you are not running. Finish up your strength workout with some exercises specifically for the core, as we know as runners that those muscles are extremely important for running efficiently and staying injury-free.
Here is a sample week devoting one day to total-body strength training:
Strength Training for Injury Rehab
If you have had any previous injuries, it’s also important to incorporate some rehab exercises into your routine, to prevent any issues from reoccurring. I have found that once an area is injured, it needs some extra TLC to remain strong and prevent imbalances from emerging.
Another trick that will add some challenge to strength exercises is to complete moves like bicep curls and shoulder presses on one leg! This will work your hips and help improve balance. You can also use an unstable surface like a balance board to increase the challenge.
When it comes to strength training, a little bit goes a long way when done properly. Focus on good form and consistency, and the benefits will be well worth the time invested. By incorporating strength work regularly into your workout routine, you will be a stronger and more balanced runner, and hopefully prevent any injuries from occurring.