Long distance running and strength training are known as “opposites,” but are they really that unrelated?
I always get asked, “When you go to the gym, what do you do?” When I tell them I lift AND do distance running, I usually get a weird look. Those two don’t go together!
In my senior year of college, I was lifting more consistently and heavier than I ever thought I could. That same year, I set a personal record in the Boilermaker, ran my first half-marathon, won the women’s group in two 5K races and felt better than ever.
Weight lifting and distance running still don’t go together, right?
The benefits of strength training are huge and are no different for a distance runner. Increasing stability, flexibility, balance and reduction of injury-risk are vital for a successful running program.
What are the benefits?
1. Healthy Body Composition
This is one of the most noticeable benefits of strength training to the running population. The shift from body fat to lean muscle mass of both upper and lower body will help reduce fatigue and maximize efficiency during running.
2. Strong Legs = Strong Foundation
The stronger your legs are, the less effort it will take to run and the less stress your joints will be exposed it. This is key for lowering the risk of injury, especially when you begin increasing mileage. This also goes for other areas of our body. Our core and upper body are also involved in running. It is vital to have a strong core to stabilize your hips.
3. Increase Flexibility and Stability
Flexibility and stability follow the same principle as the strength aspect. Most injuries in runners are caused by muscular weaknesses or imbalances. If all aspects of the body are strong, flexible, and doing their job correctly, the body will work well.
As many of us register and begin to prepare for the Boilermaker, remember the importance of supplementing strength training to your running program to become faster, more efficient and most importantly, injury free.