On the 9th September over 57,000 runners will take part in the Great North Run 2018. For each person who starts and finishes the distance of 13.1 miles completing the run is a fantastic personal achievement. Not to mention the thousands of runners who will be running to raise much needed funds for many different charities and worthy causes.
Often the association between running and strength training is misunderstood. Runners just want to run, the last thing they want to is be in a gym doing strength work. Some fear they will get ‘too bulky’ or their times will become slower if they put on muscle. This type of mindset is very dated and without any scientific rational to back it up.
If we quickly look at some of the research in relation to distance running and strength training we firstly find that:
1. Running economy is improved. Due to the body being stronger and being able to hold its self in the correct position during longer distance.
2. Increased strength also means the muscles are more robust to cope with the impact of each foot strike.
3. Overuse injuries which are common for runners can be reduced by up to 50% simply engaging in resistance based training.
4. The strength of the calf, or lack of strength is directly correlated to runners experiencing shin splints.
5. Whats more strengthening the hips significantly reduces petallofemoral pain experienced in runners.
This is just a very quick look at some of the scientific research that clearly demonstrates Strength Training and Running should go hand in hand.
Running is very much a single leg activity. When running we in essence run with one foot on the ground at any one time. This single leg action when combined into a series of bounds forms the overall running action. If we are unable to maintain optimal foot position each time we foot strike then instability through the knee increases. At the same time if the Glutes and Hamstrings aren’t as strong they should be then reciprocal inhibition take places and the hip flexors and quads begin to become over loaded. All of which can increase the risk of injury stopping runners from doing the very thing they enjoy, running!
Strength training should play a vital role within any runner’s general training program whether they be a fun runner or looking to participate at a more competitive level.
In conclusion hear are some of the main benefits of strength training for runners are:
1. Overall improves the neural recruitment and strengthening of the muscle fibres used in running, particularly around the hip, knee and ankle.
2. Helps to aid injury prevention, by addressing and working on weaknesses in different areas in the body.
3. Improves joint and leg stability, particularly through the use of single leg exercises.
4. Activates and strengthens the intrinsic core musculature which attach the pelvis to the spine; this helps to absorb the impact of the force of each foot strike.
5. Helps to improve the efficiency of the runners form through increased strength, as poor form is often the result of muscle becoming fatigued.
If you are a regular runner or interested in running more than you currently do strength training is a really important aspect to consider within your training. Here Smart Fitness we design individualised strength programs that help to you to achieve your goals, be them completing a race, improving your running times or just getting fitter.