How to become a strong runner

Tough Cookie BLOG

Author: Jane McCaig, Exercise Physiologist

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Strength training is an often-overlooked aspect of a running training program. But, the benefits of strength training cannot be understated. Enhanced leg strength can improve your running performance, protect you from injury and improve your recovery – and lets be honest, most runners can afford to improve in at least one, if not all, of these areas! The following videos demonstrate correct technique of some common exercises that will improve your body’s ability to run.

Begin your strength training program with 3 sets of 10 repetitions of each exercise and if you are following the training program you will be guided as to when and how to increase these reps and the weeks progress.

Squats
This common exercise strengthens your glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps muscles which are all running specific muscles. The benefit of this exercise is that it can be completed anywhere with no equipment required.

Push-Ups
There are many variations of this exercise and the video explains a couple for you to start with. Push-ups primarily work the chest and arm muscles but you also require a stable core to ensure you are doing these correctly.

Lunges
Lunges also work the major muscles involved in running, the quadriceps, gluteals and hamstrings. Correct execution requires upright posture, stable core and good pelvic stability.

Pull Ups
A strong upper back is important for maintaining correct posture and spinal alignment. Good posture facilitates better breathing while running and a strong back assists with our arm swing, giving us forward momentum.

Step Ups
These are great for strengthening our legs, especially our quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteals. They are very running specific in the movement allowing us to develop strength that will be directly transferable to our running performance. Ensure you keep your body upright and drive through your top leg when lifting and control your lowering phase to optimize the outcomes.

Calf Raises
Your calf muscles are extremely important muscles for any running effort. They provide the push from the ground after each stride so a solid endurance base is needed. Progress to the single leg option when you master the exercise on two legs.

Strength training is an excellent way to injury proof your body. Don’t be tempted to skimp on these sessions in your training program. I know your body will thank you in the long run (no pun intended!).