We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: including strength training in your weekly routine will improve your overall health, make you more injury-resistant and improve your running performance. For these reasons, all runners should dedicate some time to strength work as a part of their running program. The world of strength training can be a confusing and intimidating place, so if you’re new to the weight room, use these tips to help you get started.
Once you’ve decided to include strength work in your training program, you don’t need to start hammering hour-long gym sessions right away. At best, that will leave you feeling sore and too tired to complete your runs, at worst, you’ll end up with an injury. Before you go running off to get a gym membership, start by choosing a few simple, yet effective exercises that you can do at home after a run or workout. Once you’ve mastered those and have gotten used to your new routine, you can build off of that momentum by adding more exercises to your roster and increasing the length of your workouts, if you desire. Not sure where to start? Talk to a coach or physiotherapist who specializes in working with runners to get a few simple moves that will help you improve your running form and power.
Use your body weight
On a similar note, you also don’t need to start lifting massive weights right away. Your own body weight as resistance will likely be enough in the beginning, and starting this way will give you a chance to learn these new movement patterns with a lower risk of injury. Once you’re confident you can perform each exercise properly with good form, you can begin to ad weights.
Add weight slowly
Yes, lifting heavy weights provides a lot of benefits for distance runners, but you have to work your way up to it. Just as you would with running mileage, make sure you increase your weights slowly, week over week, to avoid overdoing it and injuring yourself. Always remember, proper form is more important than the number on the dumbbell, so never sacrifice quality for quantity.
How often should you strength train?
The great news is, you don’t need to spend hours of time at the gym to reap the benefits of strength training. In fact, a 2019 study found that as little as 13 minutes was enough for subjects to see strength gains. What’s more important is consistency, so start out with an amount that you can fit into your weekly routine so you don’t get overwhelmed and quit.