Running is such a great form of exercise. Not only does running offer many great physical benefits, but it has many great mental and emotional benefits as well. Whether you’re a novice runner, a seasoned runner or even a competitive runner, there is no greater feeling than hitting the trail, treadmill and of course, crossing the finish line. Running, however, because of its singular plane motion and repetition, can eventually start to take a toll on your body if you are not properly cross training.
Strength training is an often neglected form of cross training but one of the most crucial forms of exercises for runners. Finding time to get runs and other forms of cardio in each week isn’t always easy, so runners often skip out on the weights, thinking they do not have enough time or it is not necessary. But strength training should be a part of every runner’s training regimen.
To understand the importance of strength training for runners, here are some key benefits to keep in mind:
Increased Endurance: Strength training helps your body better deal with the stresses of running. Your muscles will be able to perform longer before getting fatigued, which will help you maintain your proper running form. Improving your strength will help you fight off hitting the wall during the late stages of a long-distance race. (Also, the mental strength you get from pushing in the weight room certainly comes into play out on the course as well.)
Injury Prevention: Being sidelined by a nagging injury can often be avoided through a proper strength and conditioning program. Many running injuries, especially ankle, knee and hip-related issues, are a result of muscular imbalances and weak joints. When you increase strength, you also improve joint stability (or mobility) in these crucial areas, leading to less aches and pains and more importantly, less injuries.
Increased Speed: Strength training is an excellent way to get faster. It will, of course, improve your overall form and endurance, but also your body's efficiency to use energy and oxygen. By becoming not just stronger and but also more conditioned through strength training, you will see improvements in your overall pace, which is pretty fun, right!?!
Better Recovery: Because strength training makes your body more efficient at converting metabolic waste into energy, you'll also be able to recover faster from those tough training runs. And with your stronger muscles and joints, your body will better adapt to the stresses of running thus making your recovery a significantly less uncomfortable process. (You won't be dreading the stairs quite as much after a long run.)
Weight Management: The lean muscle mass built through strength training boosts metabolism, helping your body to burn calories more efficiently not just during exercise but also at rest. Not only will this help to make you feel like a lean, mean calorie burning machine, improving your overall weight and body composition will help you to run at peak performance.