Runners should do weight training too, no really!
As a keen runner, you’ve probably spent most of the time trying to improve your cardiovascular fitness and the distance you can cover. As with anything, your body adapts to what is thrown at it. After a certain amount of time and training, it has reached the limitations of what your lifestyle and genetics give it. What if you could boost performance while preventing injury for runners?!
To do that we need to tap into the Stress – Recovery – Adaptation (SRA) principle by which the human body operates. You would already be familiar with this. Early on when you started running a short distance you would be gassed and feel the lactic acid build up in your quads. You ate the right foods, had proper rest days and recovery sessions. Over time, you were able to push the distance a little bit further and it became easier and easier.
This same SRA principle applies to strength & conditioning. By changing the training stimulus and thereby forcing the body to adapt and get better and stronger at different things. This means better performance and injury prevention for runners.
Focusing on the big Strength lifts such as deadlifts, squats, overhead and bench press will develop lean and powerful muscles, and strong joints and connective tissues. You will also increase lean muscle mass and burn fat, leading to weight loss and less load and force on your running joints. Having a strong core will also improve your posture and efficiency of movement. Strong hips and glutes will reduce lower back pain. If you’re worried about hypertrophy or building too much muscle mass. Stick with heavier weights for 1-6 reps instead of lighter ones for 8-12. Doing these complex exercises safely does require good form and control, so seek a qualified strength coach that can teach and cue these well.
It’s also a good idea to do strengthening exercises on one leg, otherwise known unilateral training. This helps strengthen the stabilizing joints and muscles, as well as correcting any imbalances in your body. These should not be super heavy, with more emphasis on control.
Along with a good strength base, you need to build your Conditioning. This means increasing the work capacity of muscles and cardiovascular system, recovery, and repeatability of efforts. We can play with kettlebells, slam balls, sleds, battle ropes, and so many more implements to spike the heart rate and challenge your body.
A crucial part of Conditioning also involves “prehabilitation” or injury prevention for runners, to stay ahead of the myriad of the potential foot, calf, shin, knee and upper leg injuries that could occur. A good coach will program exercises that strengthen these areas and spend time releasing or massaging these areas to relieve tension and increase blood flow. Simple core exercises that you can do at home will also prevent injuries https://velocityfitness.com.au/improve-your-core-strength/
Now, don’t get me wrong, what happens in the gym is very important, but what you do out of it is even more important. This involves managing your rest days, nutrition, sleep, and stress levels. That’s when your body gets the right signals to adapt and grow, rather than break down. Again, a good coach will educate you on how you can implement habits and routines into your lifestyle to ensure that you cover the bases on Recovery. Read more about these here https://velocityfitness.com.au/4-simple-stress-management-tips/
As a runner, you’ve built up your body over time to tackle more challenging courses and distances. You can use the same principle to get over the plateau you’re facing, injury prevention for runners, and improve your running performance by applying Strength & Conditioning in your workout routine. If this is something that interests you, you can register for a Complimentary Coaching Call here, and find out more about the Corporate Warrior Program.
Alan is the head trainer of the Velocity Fitness Group and the creator of the Corporate Warrior Program. He has spent 10 years in finance before becoming a health & fitness coach and has trained and taught Taekwondo for 20+ years. He is passionate about bringing out the Inner Warrior in his clients. He trains his clients at Fitness First George St, Sydney CBD. This location close to Wynyard Station is perfect for busy and stressed corporate workers and executives.