Strength Training For Runners
Running is easy. You just get up and go. Many people love the idea of training for a 5K race, even if they haven’t ever run before. You can walk to warm up, you don’t need weights or a gym, and you can go at any pace. Plus, you don’t need a trainer in your face to keep you going – unless you are motivated by them. So why bother with adding strength training to your workout?
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Why Strength Training Is Essential for Runners
Strength training has been around for centuries – it’s nothing new. Back when work meant mostly physical labor, people would use strength training to increase their strength and keep up their stamina. Weight lifting means stronger muscles, which means a better workout overall. However, strength training doesn’t have to just mean lifting weights. You can also build your strength through resistance training on multiple different machines (rowing, biking, and circuit training). Finding what works for you will help you strike a balance between enjoying your workout and doing it just because it will benefit you in the long run.
The Benefits of Strength Training
The benefits of strength training are numerous, and include better weight loss, a higher metabolism, and an increase in bone density. Beyond that, strength training also allows you to maintain your muscle tissue. As we age, we tend to start losing our muscle tissue due to hormonal changes in our body (which can start as early as 30 years old). It becomes essential for us to maintain our tissue through various exercises, which includes strength training.
You can also help to prevent injuries when you strength train. Your muscles and tendons become stronger, which will improve your performance. It will also improve your control and efficiency while running, not to mention help increase your running times!
Strength Training and the Average Runner
So how will this help you, even as a beginner?
Often beginners will have trouble keeping to their schedule, especially as they increase their time and distance. If running is not a habit, then it is easier to give up when things get tough. By alternating your runs with strength training, you break up the monotony of your workout and you make your running easier. You will see improvements with your time almost instantly, without having to push yourself harder when you run.
The idea is not to bulk up your muscles, but rather build up the strength of your leg muscles to aid you in achieving your running goals. So if the idea of hitting the free weights intimidates you, then don’t do it. There are dozens of other ways you can increase your muscle strength, some of them in ways you don’t normally expect.
Ideas for Strength Training
Here are some ideas to try when adding in strength training to your routine:
Stair climbing can be very beneficial to most of the muscles in your legs, but especially around your knees. An added benefit is that this type of exercise can be done anywhere you have stairs. If you already have weak knees, please consult a physician before jumping on a stair climber.
If you like to dance, then add in a vigorous dance number to your workout! Trying Zumba is a great way to learn some fun moves, increase your aerobic activity, and increase stamina in your legs!
Working with Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are another easy way to get your workout in almost anywhere. You can pick up these bands at a sporting goods store (or your local superstore) and find exercises with them on the internet.
Are you already using a treadmill to complete your runs? Next time try putting it at an incline and walking for ten minutes. Hill walking is an excellent way to build those leg muscles and it will help you run faster.