3 Big reasons runners should strength train

3 Big Reasons Runners Should Strength Train. For years runners have been told to run more in order to get in shape and to improve their performance. One merely has to look in most running magazines and books to see that for the most part they only recommend some form of running. For example, to improve speed they may recommend hill running, tempo running, sprint running, interval training; to improve endurance, they recommend long runs, and so on.

It may seem like a no-brainer, but strength training helps you run faster! Strength training places stress on your body in the form of resistance (weights). Which prompts your body to adapt and make changes in order to increase its ability to withstand that stress. Over time, these physiological adaptations can have a huge impact on your running speed.


This is why it’s important to train on a comprehensive program designed specifically for running performance. In other words, you can’t do a few random strength workouts and expect to see results.

Not only does strength training increase your body’s fat-free mass (bone and muscle mass). While decreasing your body fat %, it also increases the amount of force your muscles are able to exert into the ground with each step during your runs. This helps to make each stride more powerful, increasing your maximal speed and improving your ability. To maintain high submaximal speeds for longer. Strength training also increases your muscular endurance and anaerobic power, making it easier to tackle that final kick in a race.

The repetitive nature of running (“pounding the pavement”) leaves runners highly susceptible to injuries—especially overuse injuries. In addition to stronger muscles, strength training creates positive adaptations in your bones and connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, fascia, and cartilage) which can help mitigate and prevent overuse injuries like stress fractures.

A quick anatomy recap: muscles attach to bones through tendons (muscle tissue blends into tendon, so it’s all one continuous structure). Tendons have little blood flow, which is why they’re white in color illustrations of the musculoskeletal system. Ligaments connect bones together. Cartilage is a dense but flexible connective tissue that helps joints move smoothly and absorbs shock forces through joints. Fascia is a band or sheet of connective tissue that helps stabilize and separate muscles. All these connective tissues are made primarily of collagen, and all respond positively to strength training.

Just as your muscles respond to the stress of resistance by growing stronger, stronger muscles exert a greater pull on the bones they attach to, causing the bone and the structures around it to respond by grow stronger, too. Bigger and stronger bones, thicker cartilage, and sturdier and stiffer connective tissues help runners withstand and absorb more pavement pounding. The Achilles tendon in the heel and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee are prime examples of how important connective tissue strength is for runners.

For runners, all other benefits of strength training really add up to this: fewer injuries. Ever been sidelined by an injury halfway through training for a race? Ever had shin splints, tendonitis, IT band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, low-back pain, or other injuries that caused you to skip a run (or several)? Reasons Runners Should Strength Train A well-designed strength training plan for runners will help strengthen the muscle groups surrounding the most frequently injured joints (ankles, knees, hips, back, and [interestingly] wrists) and make you all-around stronger and more durable. When you’re stronger, your running mechanics naturally improve, helping avoid injury caused by poor running form. And when you’re more durable, you’re better able to withstand all the repetitive ground forces during your runs, without causing injury.

Improved durability also unlocks your capacity to run a bit more, a bit harder. Reasons Runners Should Strength Train—whether it’s a faster pace to hit a PR or longer distances to train for a half or full marathon—allows you to achieve new levels of performance previously unattainable. Being stronger, and staying injury-free, help you attack every track session, every tempo run, every long run with 100% effort. Reasons Runners Should Strength Train Higher quality training = better performance, plain and simple. And here’s the really important part: when you are able to run and train without injury, you actually enjoy running more! In this way, strength training helps you get the most out of your runs, both physically and mentally/emotionally. After all, it feels good to give your full effort!