‘Why do I get injured?’ ‘Why am I not improving?’ ‘Why am I not losing weight?’ ‘Why am I so tired?’ As runners – beginners or seasoned amateurs – we may ask ourselves these questions regularly. In my last post, I talked about how challenging it is to not run all the time, but if all you’ve ever done in training is run, then it can be hard to find the answers to these questions. Making mistakes early on has led Jayson and I to be firm believers in the positive effects that strength and conditioning can have on your running. Here are my top ten reasons to make it an important part of your training and life.
- Injury prevention. Done right, strength and conditioning can have huge benefits in terms of maintaining a resilient body. Those exercises your physio tells you to do? Do them. Consistency and patience will reap long term rewards and you’ll wonder why you didn’t listen sooner.
- Overcoming wonkiness. Maybe not the technical term, but most of us have a particular and unique style when we run. Any wonkiness could lead to compensation in other areas, which may result in overuse injuries. The stronger you are overall, the less likely you are to succumb to problems with wonkiness.
- Fatigue resistance. When you’re training for longer races, you up your mileage right? Whilst it’s true that you need to be able to run for longer, if you do nothing but run, you may end up too tired to reach your potential come race day. By substituting some of your miles for strength training, you’ll build yourself up without taking away from other systems.
- Rocking a vest and shorts. Who doesn’t want the satisfaction of rolling up to a race, guns on display and short shorts in action? When someone asks you if you’ve been working out, you can just respond with a bicep flex and a pec twitch.
- Maintaining a healthy weight. Numbers on scales can be misleading in terms of health and strength, but you can probably feel it if you are carrying a few extra pounds. It will be much easier to shed them if you are also packing some muscle. Running to lose weight doesn’t always work, as often you will reach a plateau, or you may even gain weight because you are eating more. Adding strength work and developing some lean muscle means that your body will become more efficient at burning the excess and it will be easier to stay at your healthy weight.
- Variety. Changing things up not only makes your body healthier and keeps it challenged, it also helps mentally. Going for a run when you really don’t fancy it sometimes leads to a miserable slog. By adding alternative training sessions in, you could keep your brain happier and healthier too.
- Convenience. The strength and conditioning we do can all be done at home, with a few bits of kit or just a little space. The best part is, you can wear socially unacceptable clothing as no-one else is there to judge. So wriggle into your neon leotard (don’t we all have one?!), hot pants or even just your undies and pretend you’re in that Eric Prydz ‘Call on Me’ video 🙂
- Stability and posture. Core strength is vital when running, not just for propelling you forward efficiently, but for keeping you upright so you can breathe properly, and stop you from losing balance. With proper form, strength and conditioning can train your body to be stable and solid in everything you do.
- Hill strength. Who doesn’t want to be able to run up and down hills feeling powerful? To be able to run off the top of a climb or to hold form on a tricky descent are skills you learn by doing, but having a robust framework at your disposal will help no end. Stronger legs, core, shoulders and glutes can all come from strength training and will all help your power on the hills.
- Super glutes. Your bum is the best weapon in your arsenal (!) when you run. If you can use it properly, you will save your legs from a battering and will have a more efficient style. Most of us use our bums for sitting more than anything, so regular strength work targeting this area will not only give you a perkier posterior, but it will give you a super charged engine. Look at Kilian Jornet’s bum. Give it a good study. That’s where his power lies.
If you don’t know where to start, here is a simple routine that you can do at home. It is always best to get someone who knows about proper form to help you when you start out: you can hurt yourself by doing these incorrectly. Start with two repetitions of the circuit, three times a week.
- Squats x 10
- Press ups x 10
- Rear lunges x 10 each leg
- Mountain climbers x 10
- Ice skaters x 10 each side
- Tricep dips x 10
- Side plank – 30 seconds each side
- Plank – 30-45 seconds