Why strength training can transform your running

If you want to avoid injury, improve your running form and fast track your running progress, the missing ingredient is strength training

Strength training which works for women
(copyright Girls Run the World)

If you were to ask hundreds of runners – and sport scientists, the single thing that makes the biggest different to improved running, it would be strength training.

Imagine a ball that is pumped up and one that is slightly flat; the pumped up one rounds off the floor quickly while the flat one barely leaves the floor.  That’s the difference that a conditioned muscle makes to your running form compared to a running body that has not been conditioned.

How strength training helps you as a runner…

  1. You’ll be able to keep running consistently without having to take time off for injury.
  2. It improves your running economy by up to 8%, making you more efficient which means you are less tired and will run faster.
  3. It improves your ability to create force – exactly what you need to be able to do in order to drive your body off the floor and land with every stride.
  4. Improves your V02 max by up to 4%, which is a measure of your aerobic capacity.

All of this matters hugely if you’re training for endurance, whether that’s a half marathon, marathon, triathlon, or ultra.

If you take one thing from this post, it is this – in  Sieler’s Hierarch of Endurance Training needs, which ranks eight fundamental training practices in order of proven impact, the fundamental foundation of training is volume. But if you become injured because your body is not strong enough, the ability to increase or maintain that volume is undermined.

We recently spoke with Chrissie Wellington at the Training Peaks Endurance Coaching Summit where she spoke about her amazing London Marathon time of 2 hours 44 minutes, and she credits strength work as the secret to her success;

‘I managed to do it off the back of strength and conditioning, which meant that I stayed strong off the back of the end of the marathon which becomes even more important as we age.’

How do I fit it in?

All this is all very well and good, but how do I fit in marathon training, relationship, work and family?

This, and lack of understanding about strength training and how to do it are the single biggest reasons that female runner neglect strength training. But it doesn’t need to take long – 10-20 minutes of the RIGHT strength training will help transform you as a runner, much more than just slogging out the same miles at the same pace over and over again.

For strength programmes that fit into your daily life and are relevant to your training, visit our online content platform.