A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Strength training for runners

on October 10, 2013
A friend sent me this on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and I loved it! We really need to appreciate how awesome we are more often!

A friend sent me this on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and I loved it! We really need to appreciate how awesome we are more often!

I’ve mentioned before that I’m pretty bad about doing strength training very often. I spent three months working with a personal trainer last fall and definitely learned a lot and gained some muscle, but didn’t really keep up with regular strength training after that, unfortunately. Strength training in general is important for general health and certainly makes a lot of daily function easier. There are also many experts and some data to suggest that strength training is directly beneficial in weight loss, theoretically because muscle is more metabolically active than fat. A pound of muscle certainly takes up less space and is more attractive than a pound of fat.

For runners, strength training can be particularly useful and yet it is often overlooked because we get so focused on getting in our runs. For runners, strength training can provide much needed muscular balance to help with your form and prevent injury. It can also help with speed, in some studies, by improving your overall efficiency and by allowing you to generate more force in a shorter amount of time to propel yourself off the ground. It makes intuitive sense that strengthening the muscles in your legs and hips could help you run faster, but your core and arms are also very important. Muscles in your core and arms help you maintain appropriate posture and regulate your stride rate and frequency, all of which improves your efficiency as a runner.

There are lots of different workouts you can find online for strength training specific to runners (some of which I’ve linked below). For me, I want something that I can do quickly in my own home or my office in spurts throughout the day. This means starting with body weight exercises, which can be very effective when done correctly. Body weight exercises can give you a good workout, especially as a beginner, and can help you learn appropriate form before you add weights and increase your risk of injury if your form is off. Body weight exercises are also something I can fit into my workday in short breaks (although I suppose I could bring a set of weights in here to stash under my desk too). At home, I have resistance bands, dumbbells and kettle bells, so I may progress to using weights at home if I can stick with the body weight regimen for a few weeks. I have some strength training DVDs as well (Do all girls have a Jillian Michaels DVD at this point? I sort felt like I had to buy one as a girl who exercised and I don’t even particularly enjoy Jillian on the Biggest Loser) but I honestly don’t know that I have the motivation to find that kind of time in my day. It’s hard enough to find a chunk of time to run as a working mom. I need strength training that I can sprinkle in short chunks.

My plan for now is to start with one set of these every other day (15 repetitions/set):

Squats (see demo here) – work quads and glutes; will progress to adding weight with the kettle bell and/or single leg squats

Lunges (see demo here) – work quads and glutes; I detest these because I find it very difficult from a balance perspective, which means that *sigh* I should probably do them more often.

Lateral lunges (see demo here) – work quads, glutes and inner thigh; lateral movements really neglected in running, but crucial in helping you maintain your stability & recover from stumbles!

Clamshell hip strengthener (see demo here) – work outer hip muscles; can progress by adding resistance bands

Push-ups (see demo here) – work chest, triceps and shoulders; a great all around upper body exercise if you only make time for one; progress to full push-ups

Superman (see demo here) – work lower back, a very neglected area in my life!

Plank (see demo here) – works your abs, back and shoulders

I know for me, if I say two days a week or three days a week, I’ll just put it off until the end of the week. Doing something like this every day or every other day usually works better for my procrastinating self. I’ll progress to two and then three sets of these workouts before adding weight or otherwise progressing. Slow and steady! I’ll keep you guys posted to keep myself accountable!

In other activity news, my FitBit progress report for my trip to San Francisco last week was pretty impressive:

Fitbit San Francisco Week 10.2013

The only other week I’ve ever had come close to looking like that was on our Disney Cruise. Yay for me for being active on the road! Off to Rhode Island next week (my first visit to that state) and will hopefully be able to do to the same there.

Do you struggle on getting in strength training with the running workouts?

Sources for further reading:

Spark People’s The Best Strength Training Exercises for Runners (probably my favorite article on this topic – really explains the whys and links workouts and specific exercise demos)


Runners World 10 Essential Strength Training Exercises for Runners

Body Building.com Discussion with Anatomy for Runners author about running form and strength training (I am clearly not a body builder but found the theories interesting)

11 responses to “Strength training for runners

  1. Desiree' says:

    Great post and great job this week with those steps!

    • Thanks! Hopefully I can stick with the plan!

      • I’m sure you’ll keep going! I’m going to start some yoga for runners. Maybe 20 min at a time πŸ™‚ I think it’ll help me because I’m noticing some tension in my muscles after a big run and I think I need to go beyond regular stretching…
        I find your story inspiring and I hope to attain my own goals. Your story motivates me to keep on pressing on πŸ™‚

  2. Jaime says:

    i used to have a fitbit, when we went to disney world we walked 47 miles in 6 days. LOL. pretty crazy if you think about it.

  3. […] done a great job with my strength training routine every other day! I need to keep it up. If I can keep this routine up for the next […]

  4. […] Per usual, I was spotty with this goal. Over and over again, I tell myself I’ve got to strength train to be a safer and faster runner and to preserve muscle mass. Over and over again, I hit it one or […]

  5. […] Strength training: We all know how important strength training is for running, both in terms of avoiding injury and in gaining speed. I’ve been much more consistent with […]

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