Are you a runner? Maybe you’ve only just started or maybe you have been running for years. Doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are, if you run once or 5 times a week,  you are a runner.

Although there are many benefits to running, if that’s all you do then you run the risk of injury, plateauing or making slower progress than is possible.

You may or may not be aware that it is important to include strength training into your weekly training schedule. This doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym and bench pressing or squatting 50kg or more of weight but it does mean incorporating some sort of resistance training twice a week.

Some of the benefits of doing so include:

  • Strengthens muscles and joints and therefore reduces the risk of injury
  • Strong muscles improve efficiency when running as it requires less energy to achieve a certain pace
  • It can help you run faster by improving neuromuscular coordination and power; 

You may think that it’s just your legs that need strength training which you can do so with simple exercises such as lunges, squats, deadlifts and calf raises but other areas will benefit too.

Core strength – this is important to help stabilize your spine and pelvis. Your glutes drive you forward when you run and if these don’t fire properly then other muscles take over leading to an increased risk of injury. Having a strong core will also help you maintain run form and therefore efficiency. This is particular important for endurance running. Try dynamic plank movements rather than static holds, glute bridges and supermans.

Upper body – your arms help drive your legs when they get tired. A strong upper body will help when fatigue sets in to keep moving you forward. Press ups, rows and inverted flys will help build chest and back muscles.

 By doing other activities such as swimming, yoga and pilates you can build strength and flexibility in muscles that running doesn’t utilize and so reduce the risk of injury.

So if you don’t already, try to include two or three strength/cross training sessions a week (even 20 minutes will make a difference) and hopefully after a few weeks you will start to feel faster and stronger in your running.