Running Series, Episode 2: Strength Training

Running Series, Episode 2: Strength Training

Episode 2 covers the importance of strength training for runners and why it is important to include strength days into your weekly routine.

Typically runners do not enjoy gym days, but they are critical in improving performance. Running is a series of single leg balances over and over again; if you don’t have the strength and stability to stand on one leg at a time, your form will suffer, resulting in injury. Strength work, especially when working one leg at a time, will make you a better and stronger runner.

Kevin recommends trying to get in two days of strength training per week and when possible, don't run or cross train on the same days that you strength train to avoid overloading your body. But for more advanced athletes, the occasional double can be beneficial - running causes muscle fatigue, so pre-fatiguing your muscles by running or cross training, then heading to the weights, can help you in races and on long run days.

For your workouts, higher repetitions with lower weight will target the slow twitch fibers needed for endurance sports. For reps, the best is 3 sets of 15-20 and when picking weight, pick what will cause you to need a break after 20 reps; if you can do more, increase the weight.

Here are a few machines Kevin recommends for runners - the leg press, leg extension, and leg curl machines. For the leg press, work on strength and balance with one leg at a time. Place your foot right in the middle of the platform and align your knees with your toes. The leg extension and leg curl should be used as directed, but Kevin emphasizes the use of the leg curl. Runners are very quadricep dominant and the hamstrings are usually underdeveloped. The leg curl targets the hamstrings to make them stronger and help the legs overall. Very few machines target this for runners, so it is a great one to use.

And when it comes to timing - something is better than nothing. If you are only able to squeeze in 15 minutes of strength training in between errands or picking the kids up from school, it is better than not going at all!

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