As the temperatures rise and the days lengthen, the excitement of running season slowly creeps in. But let's face it - strength training gets a bad rap in the running world. Often runners avoid weighted exercises out of fear of becoming too “bulky” or out of misunderstanding about how a gym program can help them. The truth is that a properly applied strength training regime will improve your speed, efficiency and prevent injuries.
The goal with weight training for running isn’t about increasing muscle mass - it’s about targeting the strength and coordination of stabilization muscles that will prevent long term, chronic injuries that often occur with the sport 🏃🏼 If you love your sport and want to be capable of doing it for years to come, it's imperative that you incorporate a weight training routine.
Still find yourself scared to take the plunge into strength? Let’s break down some common myths and get you R U N N I N G S T R O N G:
MYTH #1 🚫 Training with high reps builds endurance for running
REALITY ✅ You’re already working on your endurance on the road; you need to focus on strength, power and stability in the gym to improve your run. Strengthening your glute max, glute medius, and core musculature will stabilize your pelvis (including hips and lower back) and knees, areas that often develop overuse injuries from running with poor form. Think about this - if a runner is unable to maintain neutral knee and hip position during a split squat in a controlled environment like the gym, how can you expect them to maintain neutrality in an uncontrolled environment like a trail run? You would be surprised to know how many running athletes I assess that can’t even hold a single leg stance without their knees collapsing! Strength training with a lower rep range (anywhere from 5-12 depending on exercise) can drastically improve the stability and decrease chance of injury.
MYTH #2 🚫 Strength training will create “bulk” that will slow you down while running
REALITY ✅ Let’s get one thing straight - ‘muscle’ and ‘bulk’ are not synonymous. So-called ‘bulking’ is solely a function of over-consuming calories - If you’re eating more than you are burning, you will not only put on muscle but you will also put on body fat which could make you appear ‘bulky’. This is certainly not a concern for runners since the majority of their calories are burned off during their cardiovascular training. True ‘strength’ is a function of the nervous system and it’s ability to properly fire muscles - it’s not necessarily all about adding mass to the body.
MYTH #3 🚫 Squats have nothing to do with running
REALITY ✅ This couldn’t be more wrong. Squats have everything to do with running. If you cannot perform a full range squat due to mobility or stability limitations, you’re setting yourself up for a painful running career. A squat demonstrates the fullest expression of ankle and hip range of motion (ROM) and proper sequencing of major muscles groups including glutes, hip flexors, quads, deep core and spinal erectors, all of which are utilized during running. It’s important to note that machines like the leg press will never be a suitable substitute for the strength and stability developed from body weight, free weight and theraband exercises.
MYTH #4 🚫 Gym workouts should be high intensity with minimal rest to complement a running regime
REALITY ✅ Runners get enough cardio - What they need in the gym is moderate to heavy weighted exercises within a moderate rep range with full recovery between sets. Resting between sets is absolutely paramount for the success of a strength training program. Yes, this may feel boring to the running athlete who is used to the continuous ‘runner’s high’ but it is integral to strength performance in your weight training routine. We’re training two different systems here that play off each other - don’t feel like you need to always integrate the two in every workout.
Have questions or want more info? Send me a message and let’s get talkin’ - we'll set up a complimentary consult to get you on the road to R U N N I N G S T R O N G.