Strength training for runners [videos]

Lower the risk of injury, increase running performance and lay the ground for your ability to run faster and longer with proper strength training for runners.


Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

For you, as an endurance runner, strength training is paramount. And why is that?

LOWER THE RISK OF INJURY. As a runner, you subject yourself to very repetitive motions and put a constant demand on your joints and muscles in the same positions.

When you continuously train and use the same muscles to create movement, you will eventually reach a level where your body can not adapt anymore.

So to put it simply, with stronger muscles, you last longer.

RUN FASTER AND LONGER. Run performance is the result of stride frequency, stride length…and force. Where force is your ability to accelerate yourself in the desired direction.

Also, strength is one of two abilities required to develop the much needed muscular endurance. That is the combination of strength and endurance.

In conclusion, with stronger muscles, you will perform better as a runner.

Therefore, although you get some of the strength by your actual running, you can only develop genuine force through a dedicated strength training program.

So to help you to safely hit the ground running, we will cover…

How to increase run strength?

You may still ask yourself – if I am getting sore muscles when running, is running a strength exercise?

Well, getting sore muscles a day or two after a challenging run workout is normal. Especially if you are just starting out with your run training or increasing the intensity of your sessions.

So, running will improve your muscles capacity as the body adapts to the new activity.

However, after some time, there will not be any further improvements in your strength. And you can only develop more through a dedicated run strength program.

When should I start strength training?

The short answer – today!

And I say that because one training mistake most endurance athletes make is not implementing a year-round strength program.

However, like your endurance training, it should be periodised to get the best result.

Christer aiming for an Ironman triathlon. During his second base period, Christer includes two sessions of strength training per week. As you can see, those workouts are spread out over the week and are combined with his recovery bike sessions.
Christer aiming for an Ironman triathlon. During his second base period, Christer includes two sessions of strength training per week. As you can see, those workouts are spread out over the week and are combined with his recovery bike sessions.

How often should I do strength training?

That said, once a week is, therefore, better than nothing. Yet, to improve your running performance, you should be doing resistance training two or three times per week.

Just make sure you are structuring the sessions so that they complement your running. And help you to build run performance. Not making you too tired so that you need to slow down during your run workout.

Discover what it is like to train in a structured way with our 4-week strength program for runners. Sign up today!

How long should the workouts last?

Depending on your current training schedule and your goals, your strength training sessions should last anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes.

Running and strength training the same day

Other frequently asked questions we get are – can I run and strength train on the same day? And if so, should I run or do strength training first?

A general recommendation to minimise fatigue and optimise the quality of your run and strength training would be,

  • Always run after the strength session if you’re doing both on the same day.
  • Plan for 6 to 9 hours of recovery after your strength training before beginning a run workout of below zone 3 intensity.
  • Avoid combining any form of resistance training with an above zone 3 run session the same day.

For an in-depth discussion, see Sports Medicine.

Warm up with a dynamic stretch

Before you engage in a strength training activity, it is recommended to start with some dynamic stretching.

Compared to static stretching (stretch and hold), which is best performed as part of a cool-down, dynamic stretching includes a gentle and progressive active movement pattern throughout a comfortable range of motion.

As with all warm-up exercises, it is all about getting you ready for your training session’s central part. In this case, strength training.

Performing a dynamic stretch is simple but requires caution. Begin with a short range of motion. As you warm-up, increase the movements toward your maximum level.

The walking lunge and carioca are two great examples of dynamic stretches popular among runners.

Develop your mobility

As I mentioned before, as a runner, you subject yourself to very repetitive motions and put a constant demand on your joints and muscles in the same positions.

And when you continuously train and use the same muscles to create movement, you will eventually reach a level where your body can not adapt anymore.

Over time you will lose the ability to move well through your lower limbs, and your knees will start taking a large amount of the forces.

And if the forces going in are greater than the forces it can absorb, the knee joint and surrounding tissues will begin to break down.

Train muscles in different positions

Therefore, you want to train the muscles in different positions so that you can move more freely and with greater variation.

And, consequently, better perform the task at hand.

So by creating more options, you not only lower the risk of injury but also improve how well you perform.

Example strength workouts

Run mobility routine

With the help of Victor Pierce, we will take you through a mobility routine that can be used,

  1. During the run warm-up to mobilise your knees.
  2. As part of your training to improve your performance and increase capacity.

In the video Victor walk you through 5 mobility exercises,

  • Knee rotation PAILs/RAILs
  • Adduction knee hinges
  • Straight leg hip flexion
  • Knee flexion lift-offs
  • Knee CARs

(For an in-depth explanation, download the run mobility routine)

In the video Victor walk you through 5 mobility exercises for runners

45 min resistance session

In the exercises we present in this article, we use resistance bands of different strengths. It makes it perfect for home workouts or strength training on the go.

However, if you have access to a gym, you alter the resistance band with the gym equipment.

In this example session, use a medium resistance band.

Warm-up

5*

  • 2:00 jump rope
  • 5 push-ups
  • 1:00 tubing row

Run strength

2 sets * 18 reps, 0:20 rest

  • Deadlift
  • Squat
  • Step-ups
  • Bulgarian split squat
  • Split squat
  • Standing hip flex
  • Runner´s raise

4 weeks of run strength

Given the need for a complementary conditioning routine to improve your running, we have combined the best strength exercises for runners in a 4-week workout plan.

Also, when running, you need a stable and supporting core to maintain a good posture. If you succeed in this, it results in better breathing and a more efficient running step.

Therefore, also consider including our runner’s core workout program in your training.

Lower body run strength exercises

Walking lunges

Walking lunges

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Squat

Squat

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Split squat

Split squat

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Bulgarian split squat

Bulgarian split squat

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Step-ups

Step-ups

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Deadlift

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Standing hip flex

Standing hip flex

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Single-leg curl

Single-leg curl

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Toe raise

Toe raise

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Lying hip flex

Lying hip flex

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Upper body exercises for runners

Hammer curl

Hammer curl

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Runner´s raise

Runner´s raise

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Upright row

Upright row

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Tubing row

Tubing row

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