Why runners need to do strength work

Why runners need to do strength work

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Not usually top of mind, Vlad Shatrov outlines just why strength work is essential for runners.

If I asked you “What session would you do once a week that would help prevent injury, make you a faster runner and improve your physique overall”, what would you say? It probably wouldn’t be to go for an hour run would it?

But that’s exactly what most runners would do if they wanted to get better. It doesn’t work like that though.

Strength work for runners, will do all of this and more. It’s the one session a week that should be seen as necessary even critical if you’re going to keep on achieving your impossible out on the track and trails.

If you’re following our training programs for the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival, you’ll see that strength sessions are a key component. 

Traditionally, strength work hasn’t been seen as a priority for runners. There are a number of reasons for this including:
  • Difficulty in finding where to do it and the expense and inconvenience of getting a regular gym membership
  • Lack of knowledge by trainers in what is actually required for runners
  • A perceived view that its only necessary for sprinters and elite runners
And the list goes on.
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3 reasons why you need to do strength work

Strength work is essential if you are going to get anywhere near you’re potential. It’s the critical ingredient, if neglected it will be the single biggest reason you keep banging your head against a wall in frustration. 

Here are 3 reasons why you need to build your strength

1. Increase lean muscle mass

A runner with a well-balanced training schedule including strength work is going to have more lean muscle. 

This in turn will not only allow better support of key running joints, but will help maintain a fitter and stronger physique overall.

2. Running self- awareness

Clocking up the kilometres without any functional strength works allows bad habits to take hold and increase s your risk of injury.

 It’s very likely that one muscle group is taking over and you’re not even aware until it’s too late. I’m talking about not evenly activating muscle groups on both sides of the body, lower and upper. 

You will be amazed if you looked at yourself run with the imbalances you can see, arm swing, leg lift and so on – this is the body compensating and if left will lead to injury or at best limit your potential. 

3. Improved running form

Functional strength work will help you to engage the correct muscles for better running form - more time in the air, better contact points with the foot on the ground, nice even cadence to name a few. 

It won’t happen for an extended period of time if the muscles in the core and legs are not strong enough to allow it. The longer you hold improved form the faster you are and the less likely you are damaging your body!

Strength work, if functional, provides the benefits of increased lean muscle mass, improved technique and form, and a much better awareness of any limitations before they cause you an injury. 

Vlad Shatrov is an elite road and trail runner and the official trainer of the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival.

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