How and When to Strength Train as a Runner
Whether your goal is to increase running performance, be more explosive, prevent injuries or improve overall health; strength training should be an integral part of your training schedule. Although most people understand the importance of properly designed strength training program, not many know how to properly incorporate strength training to get all the benefits it provides, without hurting their run performance worse – becoming injured. To help you with this, we answer some of the most common questions we get:
- How often should I do strength training?
If you are a runner and your goal is to improve your running performance, you should be doing strength training twice a week. Once a week is better than nothing, however, research and practice has shown that optimal strength training frequency is 2-3 times a week. In this case, strength training should help running performance and not make you tired so that you need to slow down on your running.
- How long should the workouts last?
Depending on your current training schedule and your goals, your strength training sessions should last anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes. This is a good starting point, however, each strength training program needs to be customized to each individual. Somebody who has an Olympic gold medal goal will have a completely different program to a working professional with a goal of running his first marathon and who needs to balance work, family and training obligations.
- How to fit my strength training workout into my weekly schedule?
Strength training should not negatively impact performance of your key running workouts, so to avoid this, here are couple of things to keep in mind:
- Strength train the day after or the day of (following) the speed work out. For example, you can do speed work in the morning and perform strength training in the evening on the same day or you can perform strength training the following day after your speed work. Do not perform strength training the day before speed work or on the same day before the speed work;
- Attempt to strength train following your long run, however, most runners won’t have any problems if they decide to train before their long run;
- How should I strength train in the off-season?
After a long competitive season, the off-season is a chance for your body to properly heal itself (physically and mentally) and a great time to focus on weak links and correcting imbalances developed throughout the season. Not addressing these imbalances may lead to injuries down the road and impede your running performance. The workouts should be performed 2-3 times a week with a focus on major muscle groups, especially muscles of the posterior chain like glutes and hamstrings.
The goal of strength training is not to make you sore after each workout, but to make you a stronger, faster and more resilient athlete. If you are not sure where to start and need help with your training, contact us (hyperlink contact page) and we will provide you with a completely customized workout plan. During your first session, we will perform a comprehensive movement screen and health/fitness history. You will be guided through proper exercise progressions with planned variations in intensity and volume to ensure constant progress and avoiding plateaus.
Nem Sambaher is a Registered Kinesiologist at The Runner’s Academy and works with our runners on Strength and Conditioning training and programing.