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EmpoweredPT's

Mini-series of posts: Strength for Runners

Others / September 23, 2022

Overcoming Roadblocks to Consistency:

In our first post in this series, we talked about the game changing potential of strength training for our running and our overall health. However, despite all these awesome benefits, more often than not, runners struggle to strength train consistently.

Given the nature of our schedules, and the time, resources, and energy we already devote to running, it can feel that much harder to fit it in.

Also, strength training can be kind of intimidating! That might be why so many people gravitate toward something as seemingly simple as running. (Though we all know it’s not always that simple!)

Strength training at EmpoweredPT in Kansas City

While the running world is starting to come around to the importance of strength training, many runners just want to run! It feels much easier to lace up a pair of cool new running shoes and hit the road than to navigate the relatively foreign world of strength training.

A quick scroll through social media, and it’s no wonder we are left scratching our heads!

What it comes down to is perceived barriers to entry and an uncertainty about how to navigate the nuances of strength training in order to support our running rather than undermine it.

Concerns:

Here are the top 3 concerns we hear from runners:

  • I don’t have time
  • I don’t know where to start or what to do
  • I don’t want to be too sore or take away from the quality of my running

Let’s work through these.

I don’t have time:

A quality strength session can take as little as 30 minutes, 2-3 times per week. And it definitely doesn’t have to take more than an hour per session. So, here comes a little bit of tough love: If you have time to watch TV or scroll through Instagram, you can probably sneak in some strength training! While we don’t all have the same 24 hours in a day, part of the reason we might avoid strength training isn’t really the time commitment so much as the impression that strength workouts have to be epic to be effective. This is not the case – simple and consistent is effective.

I don’t know where to start or what to do:

This is a big topic, so the next post in the series will walk you through what runners need most from their strength program. But in general, runners should focus on the concepts of mobility, stability, strength and power.

  • Mobility: Helps us avoid movement restrictions that result in compensations that increase our risk of injury and reduce our running efficiency.
  • Stability: By improving the quality of our movement, we improve how our joints and tissues experience the impacts of running, reducing the risk of certain kinds of injury, while also improving the efficiency of our stride by eliminating instability.
  • Strength: Strength refers to the amount of force our muscles can produce or resist. The more forcefully our muscles can contract in a well-coordinated way, the faster we can run! It also enhances the structural integrity of our bones, tendons, and ligaments, which improves our physical durability and resistance to injury.
  • Power: Training for explosivity improves our ability to absorb and redirect energy and apply muscular force quickly. Power per stride is one of the primary factors in our running speed, regardless of what distance we’re running. (Note: training for power does not have to be overly aggressive to be effective – little doses go a long way! That’s true for every aspect of strength training.)

I don’t want to be too sore or take away from the quality of my running:

Of course not! If you’re a runner, you want strength training to support your running, not undermine it. However, as runners, we are drawn to cardio-driven types of “strength” workouts that involve lighter weights and higher reps. Workouts that  leave us feeling like we just finished a hard run – sweaty, breathing hard, or practically seeing stars. (The fitness industry definitely contributes to this image of strength training as hardcore and high intensity.)

But with this mentality, it’s easy to see how we might fizzle out (especially as our running training ramps up), or ultimately be unimpressed with our results. An intentional and effective strength training session should not leave you feeling crushed or sore all the time, and it should NOT consist of any kind of sustained elevated heart rate. If you’re familiar with the concept of polarized running, cardio-driven “strength” training is akin to running every single run in the proverbial gray zone.

Final Thoughts:

Strength training done right in Kansas City at EmpoweredPT

True strength training actually involves using weights that are heavy enough to stimulate our bodies to adapt (“heavy” being relative) and allows for plenty of rest between sets – it shouldn’t be viewed as punishment! Runners looking to use strength training for the explicit purpose of benefiting their running longevity and performance would be better served by this kind of strength training.

In the next post in this series, we will go into what that running-focused strength training entails!

 

 

About the author: Coach Kaitlin

As part of the team of movement experts at Empowered Physical Therapy, Coach Kaitlin Way is dedicated to helping people get and stay active doing what they love.  Kaitlin believes that improving the quality of our movement, the strength and resilience of our bodies are the keys to moving better, feeling better, and running better!  She has compiled her knowledge as a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant with her experience as a long-time runner and former competitive powerlifter to develop Run Empowered, a well-rounded, running-specific strength program designed to help runners “find their strong” and accomplish their goals. As a mom of two little boys, she is convinced that keeping up with her kids is the ultimate ultramarathon.

 

 

 

About TRWS

The Running Well Store is the premier running specialty store in Kansas City/Lee’s Summit, Missouri and Mission, Kansas! We are a locally owned business that has been in operation since 2006. You can shop in store or online. Our tagline is THE PLACE FOR EVERY PACE as we want all walkers, runners, newbies, veterans, and people who work on their feet all day to feel welcome. We know that there are a lot of options for footwear on the market and deciding what model is the right one for your needs is not easy. We are here for you! You can come into one of our three locations (Lee’s Summit, Northland, and Mission, KS) for a free stride analysis. No appointment necessary, but if you would like to schedule an appointment, click here. We take in-person and virtual fittings. Want to do research online? We have a find my fit tool that will help narrow down footwear options. We hope to hear from you soon!