3 Ways Resistance Training Benefits Runners

Runners like to run, it’s what we do. Runners don’t stretch, though we know we should. Resistance training, also commonly referred to as strength or weight training, is yet another one of those things runners simply don’t do or don’t do often. Many avoid weights thinking that they’ll bulk up too much, which isn’t true. Others simply feel that it takes time away from running; however, injuries and over-training issues cause much longer breaks. Here are three ways resistance training benefits runners:

1. Physical/Physiological: Resistance training has been shown to improve cardiovascular efficiency, bone density, and tissue tensile strength (including muscles, tendons and ligaments). Resistance training also burns body fat while preserving or building lean body mass. All of these physical and physiological improvements will contribute to better running economy, speed and endurance.

2. Reduce the risk for injury: Running, without any other cross-training, increases the risk for injury. The increase is partially due to the added time on the road which can lead to acute injuries (ask me about a pothole mishap), but also to overuse injuries. Resistance training provides an opportunity to focus on the prime movers and supporting muscle groups, without adding more miles. Strengthening weak muscles and stretching the tight ones will provide greater ranges of motion leading to more fluid running form. A well-balanced, cross-trained runner is less likely to succumb to common overuse injuries.

3. Improve confidence/reduce burnout: Motivation occasionally drops, especially when reaching a plateau in speed or endurance. Over-training leads to burnout, both physically and mentally. Resistance training switches things up for both the body and mind. It simulates muscles not used during a run and provides another set of metrics to explore which can be highly motivating.

The Bottom Line

Resistance training – whether body-weight, free weights or other modalities – provides an opportunity to focus on prime movers and supporting muscle groups. Working these key muscle groups will improve postural control, stabilization, strength and endurance. A strong muscular foundation and improved control throughout the entire kinetic chain will contribute to better running efficiency.

Resistance training also provides mental stimulation and a new set of goals. Instead of counting miles, work with a personal trainer to find and improve a one-rep max. Confidence also grows as heaver dumbbells replace lighter ones or when holding a plank for longer periods of time.

Runners will benefit by adding resistance training to the training plan. A strong, healthy body works more efficiently in delivering the results runners want to see in training and on race day. Add resistance training to your training routine and let me know how it works! Contact me for guidance with developing a customized strength training program that will support your running ability in a whole new way.

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