I previously wrote about the benefits of strength training for distance runners. In this post, I give some practical tips on how to implement strength training into your weekly program.

1. Work Goal Specific:

Strength training programs should be individualised to fit your running goals. When training for a race with significant elevation changes, I include more weighted step-ups, lunges and single-leg squats. These exercises simulate climbing and prepare my legs for the steeper descents. Your strength training regime should target specific muscle weaknesses and keep in mind present injuries. A runner’s assessment can identify areas that need improvement and help set goals to transform you into a well-balanced runner.

2. Choose Compound Movements:

A compound movement is any exercise that involves more than one joint and muscle group at a time. A basic squat requires you to engage over 200 muscles and requires motion at the back, hip, knee and ankle, all in a single movement. Compound exercises save time because you don’t need to train every individual muscle in isolation.

3. Perform Exercises in Running Specific Postures:

By performing strength exercises in single-leg running postures, we force each leg to work at 100% capacity. The single-leg split squat is the perfect example of this. Engaging muscles in running postures will also translate into better running form.

4. High Load, Low Reps:

A small volume of high-quality strength training is enough to stimulate change in muscle tissues. Current research suggests that endurance runners perform 6-10 reps of each goal exercise with maximum weight.

5. Stop When Form Deteriorates:

Your technique needs to be perfect for 2 reasons: 1. Poor technique causes unwanted stress on joints and soft tissue structures, increasing your risk of injury. 2. Poor technique reinforces incorrect movement patterns that will translate into poor running form. Focus on your technique and be mindful when you train. If you’re unable to finish a perfect rep, stop and move onto the next exercise. First, make sure you develop proper technique before introducing more weight.

6. Mix it up:

As you improve, introduce new exercises. This prevents workouts from becoming tedious and ensures that you keep getting stronger. Change up your split squat by adding more weight (barbell squats), moving through more range (deep squats) or adding in a balance component (squat on a bosu ball). So get to the gym a couple of times a week, lift some weighs and see for yourself how getting stronger can improve your running. If you’re interested in a custom strength training program for your running goals, feel free to connect with me here. Happy Running Tarrin