Run Specific Strength Tips by Alexa Towersey
When it comes to training for endurance, it’s very easy to get caught up in an endless cycle of “chronic repetitive motion” while neglecting all the other stuff that actually keeps your body road worthy.
Strength training is one of the most underestimated and underutilized aspects of a running program, and whilst it doesn’t need to form the foundation of your training, you can use it to increase mobility, prevent injury, improve posture and therefore breathing efficiency and improve power to weight ratio so you can charge up those hills.
You can use weights to prevent injury - The most common injuries I see are knee, lower leg, and lower back, for the most part caused by structural imbalances, poor posture and incorrect movement patterns performed consistently. I like to include a lot of single legwork in my programs. Runners are unilaterally dominant, so if you have a weakness on one side, you will compensate on the other side setting yourself for injury. Single leg movements such as lunges, single leg off-box squats, step-ups, single leg deadlifts and split jumps are all advantageous when correcting side to side imbalances.
You can use weights to improve posture and breathing - When you think of running, the last thing you think of is training the upper body. However, your posture dictates the efficiency of your breathing, so if you’re hunched over with the typical rounded shoulder posture seen in many desk jockeys, chances are you will be compressing your diaphragm. This is very inefficient, and will cause you to tire much more quickly. Add corrective upper body movements into your program that will focus on opening you up through the chest, pull your shoulders back and strengthen your entire posterior chain. My favorites are shoulder dislocates with a resistance band, Barbell bent over rows and dumbbell bent over reverse flies.
Remember that your training in the gym should complement and strengthen your sports specific performance, not be detrimental to it. You don't need to be a hero in the weights room and risk getting injured or too sore to "perform" outside of the gym.
Don't underestimate the importance of a good dynamic warm up. This is your opportunity to prime the nervous system, prepare the body for movement and engage the right muscles to make your training more efficient and effective. Wearing your SKINS will help speed up this process by improving your circulation and getting the muscles warmer faster and ready for action.
In terms of sports specific training, structure your runs sensibly and learn to listen to your body. Every training program should have hard “performance based” days, and easy or recovery days. Learn to go hard on your hard days, and easy on your easy days and avoid the junk miles in between, even if you’re feeling good. At the end of the day quality trumps quantity every time, so learn to train smart and above all, train for your objective.