It’s that time of year, the first snow has hit Minnesota, and you, the few and the brave, are pulling out your headlamps and stocking caps to continue your running.
It’s a great time of year to show off your grit and laugh about how cold it was when you and your friend hit the trail this morning.
And guess what else?
It’s a fantastic time to update your strength training!
Besides the fact that you can do it inside in warmth, it can help you run faster, run longer, and keep away injuries IF you do it the right way.
A belief commonly held and utilized by runners, running coaches, and health professionals alike is to perform strength training at low weights and high reps to mimic the demands of running.
It makes sense, but is it outdated?
Much like icing and resting an injury, even the landscape for runners strength training is being challenged and the results are staggering.
We will show you the research in brief and give you a few movements to get you started.
A recent study does show that weight training will increase your running speed.
Here is how it has to work, high weights and low reps, it should NOT mimic running. Meaning don’t bother doing low weights with tons of reps for long periods of time.
Sixteen recreational runners were split into two groups for 6 weeks. One group was placed into an endurance training program and the other group was placed into a strength (weight lifting) training program, both in addition to their regular running.
The strength training group added two lifting sessions per week, high weight + low reps. After the 6 week study this group increased their prior 5K running times by an extra 3.62% compared to the group that did purely endurance training.
If runners dropped the weight training after that 6 week period, after another 6 weeks their speed gain was gone.
Conclusion: speed is gained from weight training, and must be faithfully pursued in order to be of any long term benefit.
Five studies covering 90 competitive runners performing varying length races (3K – 28K) saw an increase in running times of 3% when incorporating regular high weight + low rep weight training.
They also found an improved running economy of 5%. Not from running techniques, stride length, or steps per minute, but from building muscle strength two times per week.
Conclusion: distance and efficiency are gained by the addition of regular weight training, and while small increased percentages were noted on the distances in the study, those increases are compounded as running distance increases.
Run Without Injuries
Twenty five studies, 26,610 participants, 3,464 injuries while running.
For both acute and overuse injuries, the addition of regular heavy weight + low rep strength training reduced injury rates up to 50%.
Up to half of the running injuries occurring could be prevented by twice weekly weight training.
Conclusion: It’s obvious this is where the most benefit lies. Strength training plus your endurance protect your body from avoidable injury.
The nerdy notes: Researchers hypothesize the huge percentage is because heavy strength training produces delayed activation of less efficient type II fibers, and it improves neuromuscular efficiency, as well as conversion of fast-twitch type IIX fibers into more fatigue-resistant type IIA fibers, or improved musculo-tendinous stiffness.
Circuit or HIIT training may be the “in” things in a lot of gyms, but for endurance athletes, it’s time to get under some weight that will challenge those muscles.
Two or Three times a week set up to challenge the glutes, quads, calves, hamstrings, and shins.
Do 3-5 sets of each exercise at a weight that will tire you in 8-12 reps, be challenged but don’t go to exhaustion. You should need a rest break of 1-2 minutes in between each set for restoration.
Below are some recommendations, please note two important things:
1. There is no one size fits all approach and each person’s program needs to be tailored to their specific needs. Example: if you have knee pain you may need to adjust from some of the things such as squats.
2. Get a coach. If you are serious about your desire to run later in life, or run competitively right now, you need someone to help you perform your new movements correctly. Very often we think we are doing something the right way, but if you haven’t received coaching on the movement before, or in a long time, you may not be performing it safely.
Here are some great options for each muscle. Whether you use a dumbbell, barbell, band or hold a free weight remember to use a weight that gets you fatigued in 8-12 reps throughout 3-5 sets.
Glute – The Step Up
Hamstring/Back – The Deadlift
Quads – The 1.25 Squat
Calves – Heel Raises (Soleus focused into Gastroc)
Shin/Ankle (to keep those shin splints away) – Ankle DF
Struggling with Pain?
Hopefully you’ve never been injured and you never will be! But if you are considering options right now for an injury or recurring tenderness, you’re not alone.
We can provide you with personalized strengthening work that will address your injury as you strengthen, saving you from more invasive and prolonged treatment methods.
If you are willing to put in the work, you will get the results you want.
Click HERE to set up your free 15 minute phone consultation with a Specialist to see how we can help!
🚫The content in this is NOT medical or health advice and is intended for educational and entertainment purposes only. See a healthcare professional if you have any questions about your individual healthcare needs.🚫
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Karsten B, Stevens L, Colpus M, Larumbe-Zabala E, Naclerio F. The Effects of a Sport-Specific Maximal Strength and Conditioning Training on Critical Velocity, Anaerobic Running Distance, and 5-km Race Performance. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2016 Jan;11(1):80-5.
Lauersen JB, Bertelsen DM, Andersen LB. The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br J Sports Med. 2014 Jun;48(11):871-7.
Mikkola J, Vesterinen V, Taipale R, Capostagno B, Häkkinen K, Nummela A. Effect of resistance training regimens on treadmill running and neuromuscular performance in recreational endurance runners. J Sports Sci. 2011 Oct;29(13):1359-71.
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Yamamoto LM, Lopez RM, Klau JF, Casa DJ, Kraemer WJ, Maresh CM. The effects of resistance training on endurance distance running performance among highly trained runners: a systematic review. J Strength Cond Res. 2008 Nov;22(6):2036-44.