Why Strength is Important for Running Well:
Whether you are brand new to running or have been running for years, strength training in some capacity is essential to your health and longevity. Not just as a runner, but as a human being. If you are wanting to know if strength training for runners will help you, then read on.
Strength training: Good for my health
Improves your bone density, reduces risk of osteoporosis and protects your joints
Reduces musculoskeletal pain
Improves lean muscle mass and metabolism
Encourages positive hormonal adaptations
Reduces signs and symptoms of chronic conditions like arthritis, obesity, and heart disease
Helps you maintain independence as you age
Associated with lower all-cause mortality
According to that list, strength training is about as close as we can get to the magic bullet, the fountain of youth, or whatever other euphemism you want to use for an effective solution to the question of how to obtain better health. If health is the reason you’ve started your running journey, strength training would be a perfect complement.
Couple strength training with your regular running practice, and you will be unstoppable – in more ways than one! Not only will you have a well-rounded fitness routine that prioritizes cardiovascular health and functional strength, what you gain from strength training can offer massive ROI to your running performance.
How can strength training help my running?
Here’s a non-comprehensive yet powerful list of the ways strength training can directly benefit
Reduces Injury Risk
Strength training improves the structural integrity, durability and resilience of your muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons, which lowers your risk of injury and enables you to run more consistently without having to take extended time off to recover. Running consistently means more miles, more fun, and more progress.
Improves Movement Quality
In general, a running-focused strength plan is going to help minimize or eliminate mobility restrictions, instability, muscular imbalances, and weaknesses in order to elevate your whole running experience.
Move better, feel better, run better.
If aches, pains or discomfort are deterring your ability to run or diminishing your enjoyment of running, consider strength training and/or performance based
physical therapy as a way to rekindle the joy of running.
Improves Running Form
This is a very nuanced and individualized topic. Overhauling your form on a whim can greatly increase your risk of injury. Improving how your body functions outside of running with a regular mobility practice, targeted stability work, and running-specific strength training will improve your form by leaps and bounds.
Focus on function, and form will follow.
Improves your Running Economy
Running economy is related to how much energy you expend to maintain a certain pace-better running economy is like better gas mileage. Strength training improves the efficiency of your running mechanics and your potential power output, which means it will feel easier to maintain a given pace.
Increases Your Speed
Strength training enhances your motor recruitment and coordination, as well as your force output and power per stride. All these fancy things just mean, it helps you reach faster top speeds and sustain higher speeds over longer distances because your muscles get better at working together to produce force. This is true no matter how fast you are right now. Strength training can help any runner of any ability level run even better.
Strength training done RIGHT!
Essentially, done well, strength training can help you move better, feel better and run better. If you are just starting your running journey, it’s very easy to ramp things up a little too quickly. Strength training is the best way to reinforce your body to handle the miles you want to run (or walk) with less risk of getting hurt.
You don’t need to wait until you are in “better shape” to start strength training. It is an important part of the process from the get-go, and can take you farther in your fitness journey and help you get there faster.
Even seasoned runners can only increase their training volume so much; and no runner can continue to increase their mileage ad nauseum without consequence. There are only so many miles our bodies can tolerate, but strength training has the potential to help you push past mileage plateaus and break performance barriers.
Strength training truly is the secret sauce that will have you Running Well for a lifetime!
Strength training is most effective when we do it consistently, but there are many roadblocks that stand in our way.
Look for the next blog coming soon in the Strength For Runners mini-series. It will address these sticking points and how to overcome them!
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. She believes that improving the quality of our movement and 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.
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!