The Link between strength training and running

Hello, runners! If you’re pounding the pavement, you’re already aware of the benefits running offers:

  • Improved cardiovascular health.
  • Mental well-being.
  • The simple joy of runner (only runners will understand this)

But have you considered the often-overlooked powerhouse that can amplify your running prowess? I am talking about strength training!

Now, before you scoff and say, “But I’m a runner, not a bodybuilder,” let’s address some common misconceptions that might be holding you back from hitting the weights.

Misconception #1: “Strength training will make me bulky and slow me down.”

Reality check: Fear not! Incorporating strength training into your routine won’t transform you into the next Arnold Schwarzenegger. Instead, it’ll enhance your muscular endurance, making you more resilient on those long runs. By strengthening muscles and tendons, you’ll reduce the risk of injury and improve your overall efficiency, resulting in faster race times.

Misconception #2: “I don’t have time for strength training; I need to focus on running.”

Reality check: Trust me, I get it – squeezing in extra sessions at the gym can seem daunting when you’re logging miles every week. But think of strength training as an investment in your running longevity. Just a couple of sessions per week can yield significant improvements in your performance and reduce the likelihood of those dreaded overuse injuries. Plus, many strength exercises can be done at home with minimal equipment, so there’s no need to stress about gym schedules.

Misconception #3: “I’m already fit from running; I don’t need strength training.”

Reality check: While running is undoubtedly fantastic for cardiovascular fitness, it tends to neglect certain muscle groups, leading to muscular imbalances. Strength training helps address these imbalances by targeting specific areas such as the core, glutes, and hips – crucial for maintaining proper running form and preventing injuries. It’s like giving your engine a tune-up to ensure peak performance.

Now that we’ve debunked some of the myths surrounding strength training, let’s delve into why it’s an indispensable tool for runners.

1. Injury Prevention: Running places repetitive stress on certain muscles and joints, increasing the risk of overuse injuries like shin splints and IT band syndrome. By incorporating strength exercises that target these areas, you’ll build resilience and fortify your body against common running ailments.

2. Improved Performance: Stronger muscles mean more power and efficiency with each stride. Whether you’re sprinting for the finish line or tackling a steep hill, a solid foundation of strength will propel you forward and help maintain your pace over longer distances.

3. Enhanced Running Economy: Strength training not only makes you stronger but also improves your running economy – the amount of oxygen you consume at a given pace. By reducing the energy cost of running, you’ll be able to sustain faster speeds for longer durations, giving you a competitive edge on race day.

Here are some activation exercises to get started on:

Banded Crab Walks

Reps: 10

Sets: 3


Reps: 15 each side

Sets: 3

These are great warm up/ activation exercises, and the next step is getting into the gym at least 1-2 weekly.

Stay tuned for my next blog on what strength training runners should be doing.

Until next time, happy trails and happy lifting!

Andrew Ilieff - BeFit Training Physio Double Bay

Andrew Ilieff - BeFit Training Physio Double Bay

Andrew Ilieff is a physiotherapist based in Double Bay, Sydney. Andrew has successfully treated musculoskeletal problems and sports injuries on the basis of a thorough assessment and diagnosis coupled with evidence-based rehabilitation programs tailored to the needs and goals of each individual. Andrew specialises in lower back rehab, sports injuries and is a leading authority on Strength and Conditioning for Physiotherapists as the co-author of the University Of Technology Sydney Strength and Conditioning for Physiotherapists and casual academic lecturer. To book a consultation, click the link below.

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