Regardless of how many miles you log, you need to save room in your schedule to build strength. It can make you faster, safer, and better at what you love. Here’s how.
When running is the sport you love, it can be easy to slip into a mindset where you don’t have time for anything but miles. Got an hour? You run. Tomorrow, probably more of the same. If you have a huge mileage number at the end of your week or race prep, well, that’s a sign that you did it right.
Unfortunately, that volume-first mentality is also what leads many runners to get injured—and just as importantly, to stumble through their days feeling overtrained and awful rather than capable and athletic.
Reasons to Prioritize Strength Training:
No matter how much you love running—or rather, especially if you love running—you need balance in your training! Strength training needs to play a part in your programming, even if it means dialing back the volume elsewhere. Here are the most compelling reasons to prioritize strength training.
1. You’ll Get Faster:
This can be hard for many people to wrap their head around. After all, if you weight train, you’ll inevitably put on epic amounts of bulk and bring your pace to a crawl, right? Wrong.
On the contrary, if you pick up some heavy objects, you’ll start picking up the pace as well. Weight training makes your whole body move more efficiently and strengthens connections between your muscles and nervous system, which improves your running economy. That means you can cover more ground with the same amount of energy, giving you a leg up in distance races.
No, this doesn’t mean you need to start grinding through epic, heavy single reps like a powerlifter. If you’re new to lifting, start with lighter weights and bodyweight moves so you don’t get hurt. Save your pride for race day.
2. You’ll Be More Resilient To Injury:
If all you do is run, some muscles will end up tight, like hip flexors and calves, while others stay weak—especially the core and glutes.
3. You’ll Improve Your Posture:
Ever notice how some distance runners always look like they’re crouched and waiting for the starting gun, even when they’re just waiting in line at the store? And that’s to say nothing of how they look at the finish line.
Spending so much time in the same position—one that shortens your hip flexors and pitches you forward—tends to lead to premature old-guy stoop. By working the muscle groups running neglects, especially the back, shoulders, and yes, the glutes, you can uncurl yourself and start standing tall.
This isn’t just more attractive; it improves your running too. Lat pull-downs and pull-ups open your chest, hit the neglected upper back, and put your head on top of your torso where it belongs. A strong core holds you upright, even when you get fatigued, so work those planks. And while strengthening your glutes, give a thought to stretching their antagonist muscles, the hip flexors and quads.
Strengthen the back side, stretch the front side. This is good advice for anyone, but especially runners.