Most runners know how important strength training is, and how beneficiary it is for our running performance. The biggest challenge is either finding time to train or lack of motivation. A lot of long-distance runners think that doing hill training, running long distance on trails or road is enough strength training, but in reality, adding strength workouts will improve your running performance and running economy. Studies have shown that adding resistance or strength training can increase our running economy by up to 8%, that means shaving up to 1hr when running 100km! Running economy can benefit both highly trained runners and beginners. Strength training can also improve our VO2 max, increase our running speed and endurance.
How does strength training improves running economy?
Strength training increases the number of muscle fibers that are recruited for exercise, it also makes that recruitment more efficient and more coordinated, it lowers the blocking responses of the nervous system which allows for more power production. All these adaptations can occur without gain in muscle size or structural changes. Many runners are worried about including strength training in their programs in order to avoid muscle build up and muscle weight gain, but strengthening our other muscles, avoids others to overcompensate, therefore this result is running economy. Other benefits of strength training for runners include the stiffening of connective tissue such as tendons, ligaments which can all improve the mechanical transfer of loads (think of stiff versus loose).
Type of strength training:
-An 8-12 week program will have great positive effects.
-Include strength training 2-3 days/week
-Do 2-5 sets of 8-20 reps depending on the size of weights you are using.
Include different types of exercises like lunges and squats, plyometric exercises, weight training, HIIT training, core exercises. The most efficient strength training programs is based on including different types of exercises, regularly changing the rep/weight ratio, switching up your programs regularly to engage your muscles in different ways. All the workout variations will make sure that you avoid hitting a plateau, avoid boredom, and keep it more interesting.
Train Hard, Eat Right & Feel Great!