As a running coach and professional fitness trainer, I see the absolute necessity of implementing strength training into your routine. After all, if you just run, you will develop muscle imbalances. Because of the repetitive nature of running, muscle imbalances will eventually lead to injury. Many common injuries of the low back, hips, knees ankles and feet resulting from muscle imbalances are corrected by strength exercises, so why not add it to your routine. One of the most common muscle imbalance in distance runners is weak glutes, particularly the gluteus medius. The gluteus medius is responsible for hip abduction and hip external rotation. It also stabilizes the hip during the stance phase of the gait cycle. The strength circuit routine below addresses this very issue. Strength training also has many benefits that go beyond just injury prevention. Strength endurance, increased mitochondria (which aids in oxygen delivery to muscles), neuromuscular coordination, increased running economy, improved performance etc. . . .

Some things to consider when adding strength to your routine:

  • Two to three times a week is ideal. Contrary to what you might think, you should do your strength training on your quality days. In other words the days you are doing speed work or harder efforts. This way, your recovery days are truly recovery days.
  • Start with one full circuit and then add a second set after a couple weeks.
  • Start at the top working your way down the list of exercises without rest in between. When you are ready to add a second set, do the full circuit and then repeat.
  • Always exhale during the concentric phase (producing force) of the lift and inhale during the eccentric phase (reducing force) of the lift.
  • During the video you will hear me talk about the tempo of the exercises. For this routine we will use the 2-1-2 or 2-0-2 tempo. That simply means the concentric and eccentric phases of the lift are lasting two seconds. Between phases you can stabilize for zero to one second.
  • When choosing weight of dumbbells, bars or tension of bands, use weights or tension that you can do with good form for 15-20 reps. You should be at or near failure within that rep range. Otherwise decrease or increase the weight or tension.
  • Pay close attention to form. Throughout the video you will hear posture cues such as: tuck your chin in, lift your sternum, shoulders back, down and relaxed and so on. All of these are crucial when lifting weights. Think of posture as being dynamic not static. It is the foundation of all movements including running.

The workout listed below is perfect for implementing during your base building endurance phase or early to mid season or training phase. Also, see the posted video.

  • 1-2x Strength Training Circuit
    (After warm-up and dynamic stretching, all exercises should be slow and controlled unless otherwise indicated)
  • 15-20 Squat-to-Rows with exercise band
  • 15-20 pushups (drop to knees if needed)
  • 15-20 each leg Bulgarian Split Squats bodyweight progressing to dumbbells
  • 15-20 Lateral Flys with dumbbells
  • 15-20 Goblet Squats with dumbbell
  • 15-20 Rows with exercise band
  • 15-20 Stiff Legged Deadlifts (using bar and dumbbells)
  • 15-20 Triceps Extensions with dumbbells
  • 15-20 Lateral Band Walking using power band
  • 100 Jump rope (quick)

Laurie Porter is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with Coach Laurie, check out her coaching page.