Why Runners Need To Strength Train

I’ve recently started training for my first marathon, something I never thought I’d say. I’ve never been one for distance running as it’s not a great means for strength gain or fat loss - however, I was looking for a different type of challenge and that’s what I landed on.

To state is lightly, running is a major part of the fitness scene. Look around on a nice day and you’re going to see people out jogging. Whether or not it’s the most efficient way to train, people will continue to run for sport, races and casual exercise. With it not going anywhere anytime soon, how important is it to strength train as a runner?

When doing any sort of running, we use primarily hamstrings/glutes (to extend the hip), quads (to prevent knee flexion - hence why they get beat up running downhill), calves, and hip flexors (among others). This happens in a straight line at a relatively slow pace. If all we do is run, there’s going to be breakdown that occurs that isn’t combated that will eventually lead to injury; this is where resistance training comes in. Running will build a certain resiliency and endurance, but not necessarily strength and power. It’s important to strength train in multiple planes of movement in different rep ranges/effort levels, increase mobility/flexibility, do sprint work at a high effort level, and eat well. This all provides the necessary tools to get the body ready for the pounding.

What is the usual kick back to this idea in the running community? “I don’t want to get too bulky or put on too much size.” This isn’t a very valid concern as it’s hard to put on size in general, let alone while running substantial mileage and not in a large calorie surplus. Think of running as a breakdown of the body, and if we aren’t building back up through resistance training and proper nutrition, it’s going to be hard to hold up. Long story short, if you want to run healthy and for a long time - you better be lifting weights!

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