Value of strength training for runners*

Tuesday, 21 November 2017, By Samina Rad


There is a common misunderstanding in society that running frequently will improve your ability to run and that your performance will, in turn, improve. 

Participating in a physical activity that consists of a lot of running, has vast benefits to your cardiovascular and respiratory system, however, it will not prevent you from injury. This is due to the motion of running, it doesn't strengthen muscles, it does, however, increase your endurance and promotes cardiovascular & respiratory health and strengthens the heart. 

When you run for long distances or increase your speed, your muscles are not prepared for the sudden intensity that is placed on them. Some runners tend to increase their speed from 0-100% pushing themselves beyond their ability, by doing this, the muscles tense up and go into shock, this results in injury and therefore will limit them from continuing their running training. 

The solution to prevent injury when running is: BUILD STRENGTH. Strength training is a supplement to a runner's roadwork. By participating in strength training, the runner will strengthen muscles and joints, which can improve race times and decrease injury risk.

A keynote to remember when weight training, is to supplement it with good nutrition. When participating in effective weight training, microscopic tears are being made to the muscle tissue and therefore nutrition is an important component to guarantee proper recovery.

Core stability and strengthening your glutes are another key factor for a successful runner. By strengthening your core and glutes you are able to stabilize the body, strengthen hip extensors as well as your upper body.

For short distance runners who prefer to improve their sprinting, it is vital to engage in weight training that activates fast twitch muscle fibers. Fast twitch fibers generally produce a greater amount of force compared to slow twitch muscle fibers, they are also able to fire more rapidly hence if you're a sprinter, it will be very helpful to train them with resistance training.

By strengthening the fast twitch muscle fibers, an individual can lift a heavyweight with slow acceleration. This will develop these muscles and it will help to achieve the explosive power in your sprint. 

On the other hand, individuals that aim to improve running for long distance i.e. marathon runners will need to work on their slow twitch muscle fibers. The slow twitch muscle fibers are more effective at using oxygen to create more fuel for continuous and extended muscle contractions over a long period of time. They fire more slowly than fast twitch muscle fibers and can go for a long time before they fatigue. This can be done by lifting weights with high reps with high volume to achieve the strength and endurance necessary for long distances.

*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.

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