I am exhausted. My muscles burn. Arms shake. I am pushing my body in a way that I know I will be sore tomorrow.
And when my coach says “one more,” I’m pretty sure I can’t do it.
But I do it.
Not another mile, or 400 repeat, but another rep with my 15 pound free weight!
Runners are divided on the need for strength training, and the opinions on the matter range from “I don’t need it” to “it’s for the professional runner” to “I hit the gym all the time!” Not long ago, I was a member of the “weight training is scary” camp, and avoided weights like the plague. Part of the reason was that I didn’t know what sort of strength exercises to do, but I also didn’t really think it was necessary. I’m not competitive (except with myself) and my only sponsorship was coming out of my own pocket. Did I really need to hit the weights?
Yes! The reality is that all runners benefit from strength training. Research has shown that regular strength training helps with injury prevention by strengthening all our muscles, not just those we use to run. Strength training also directly improves our running performance: by working our core, we extend the time we can run before exhaustion sets in. And effective strength training also improves our form and increases our lean body mass, which helps our entire body to be more efficient and consequently capable of running faster.
Strength training is intimidating, at least it was for me, and the weight room at the gym can seem full of strange machines with bulky, grunting men. Luckily, you do not need a gym to get in a strength training session; I do this quick full-body circuit solo in my living room with a resistance band and a 15-pound weight. If I can do it, you can too! *
*THE NOT-SO-FINE PRINT: I’m not a doctor, and I don’t know your body the way I know my own. It’s always a good idea to ask a health care professional or a coach or someone else who knows your body before you start doing some new workout you heard about online! Please do that!
Running Weight Circuit
Do 12-15 repetitions of each exercise and move on to the next. Repeat the entire circuit 2-3 times according to your fitness level.
3. Abdominal crunch
4. Clamshells (You can put a resistance band around both of your legs at mid-thigh to make it more difficult. Lie on the ground on your side with your knees bent and raise your upper leg like an opening clamshell. Repeat on the other side.)
5. Push-up (Begin on your knees if you need, and keep your arms close to your sides.)
6. Reverse abdominal crunches (Lie on the ground with your legs crossed and elevated vertically or at a 45 degree angle from your body. Lift your legs until your butt is off of the floor and slowly lower it back to the ground.)
7. Lunges (repeat on both sides)
8. Dips (Sit on a stable object with your arms anchored on either side of your body. Support your body with your arms and slowly lower your body towards the ground until the arms are at a 90 degree angle. Straighten your arms and repeat.)
Remember to move with intention, not too fast and not too slow. This will maximize the effects on your body and also ensure your form is maintained. Improper form can lead to injury, so if these exercises are new to you, you may want to schedule a visit with a personal trainer or, at the very least, watch the videos to ensure your form is correct.
Do you strength train? What is on your strength training routine?