Athletes in most other sporting disciplines consider strength work as a key element of any training programme. Many runners avoid weight training, however, fearing that it will add unwanted bulk and give us extra weight to carry.
But it's been proven again and again that including strength training in your fitness programme comes with a multitude of benefits. Essentially it will help you run faster and for longer. Here's how...
A number of studies confirm the fitness benefits of strength training when used in conjunction with running endurance training. A 2008 study in found that endurance runners could run a whopping 21 per cent further in an aerobic test to exhaustion, after incorporating strength training. They did a series of half squats three times a week for 8 weeks, completing a mere 4 sets of 4 reps.
Clearly there are significant benefits to running endurance. But it can also help with speed over shorter distances. Interestingly, this 2005 study found that endurance running followed by circuit training in the same session gave the best possible results (an 8 per cent improvement) in a 4K time trial.
Being out of action with an injury is every runner’s nightmare. But by strengthening your leg muscles and your core using strength training you will be far less likely to fall prey to injury. Just one 30 minute session per week can make all the difference.
Find the right strength training for you
There are many types of strength training to choose from, it’s not all about pumping iron among grunting bodybuilders. Plyometric training (dynamic movements incorporating leaping and bounding), circuit training, bodyweight workouts, kettlebells and even Pilates are all types of strength training for runners which will complement your running training programme. Ultimately, it will make you into a stronger, more complete runner who is less prone to injury.