Hello, everyone! I’ve posted a few times about the importance of core strength and strength training for runners. One thing that I struggle with and I know many other runners struggle with is actually effectively incorporating regular strength training into a running routine, especially when you are training for a long distance or goal race. I want to offer in today’s post some useful tips for how to add strength training to your running routine without spending hours a day working out, cutting back on your mileage, or being sore for your important workouts.
The first important thing in adding strength training to your running plan is to find a strength training routine that works for you. Most runners do not want to gain a lot of muscle mass, since bodybuilding and distance running (anything 5K and over) have contradictory goals. You also do not want a strength training routine that saps you of your energy and leaves you unable to complete your runs. For most runners, this means using lighter weights or doing bodyweight exercises. Additionally, you want a strength training routine that targets the muscles most important to running: core, back, glutes, quads, and hamstrings.
I know I’m more likely to commit to a strength training routine if it is not very time-demanding. I don’t want to cut back on my miles or spend several hours working out. There are several great strength training routines that are only 15-25 minutes in duration, including some of the ones I’ve posted in this blog and linked above. Doing these routines twice a week requires only an extra 30-50 minutes of your time the entire week!
You can even do a simple circuit of bodyweight exercises for your strength training. Squats, planks, push ups, lunges, and bridges work all your major muscle groups and can be done using only your bodyweight. 2-3 sets of 15 reps of each (with holding the plank for 1 minute) will give you a great workout that supplements your running goals. If you want more of a challenge, you can add weights to most of these poses or try a variation such as a lunge with core rotation, single-leg squat, planks with arm extensions or leg lifts, and single-leg bridges.
If you want to add some weight or extra challenge, you don’t need to pick up a heavy barbell to see benefits. Dumbbells, kettlebells, and stability balls are great pieces of equipment to enhance your strength training routine. Kettlebells engage your core and also offer some mild aerobic conditioning. Stability balls can also help tone your abs, glutes, back, and legs while also providing you with stability training, which offers benefits for running on tricky terrain.
When you are training for a race, your plan often outlines specific days for speed work, tempo runs, and long runs, with recovery and easy runs in between. You want to be sure to incorporate strength workouts in a way that doesn’t create excess fatigue for important running workouts and prevent you from hitting your prescribed paces or miles. What I find best during race training is to do your strength training later in the day after a hard speed or tempo workout. This way, your body has sufficient time to recover from the strength training in time for your next workout or long run.
When you’re in base training or off-season, you can include strength workouts on any day since prescribed paces aren’t as important. In off-season, I prefer to do my strength training immediately after a shorter run. That way I can ensure a good strength training workout without cutting into one of my longer runs.
I hope these tips help you include strength training in your running routine!
Questions of the Day:
How often do you strength train when training for a big race?
Do you strength train immediately after a run, later in the day, or on non-running days?