After taking one look at endurance runners’ stick-thin bodies, it’s hard to imagine they do anything other than pound the pavement. The truth, however, is that strength and resistance training is just as important to a runner’s regimen as running itself.
Lifting weights isn’t just about bench pressing and overhead squats—especially not for runners. Strength training helps develop flexibility, mobility, balance, and core strength and, most important, helps prevent injury, says EZ8 running coach Kathy Pugh. Read on for five reasons you should incorporate strength training into your workouts at least two to three times a week.
1) You need better core strength.
Try the plank: Pughsays the standard plank is her go-to exercise for runners. While it’s a full-body exercise, without a strong core it’s nearly impossible to do correctly. Hold the position for 30 seconds, 45 seconds, then 60 seconds. Or try our Well+Being Plank Workout.
2) You’ll run faster.
Try the single-leg squat: “What is running but a continuous series of single-leg squats?” says DC Running coach Mike Hamberger. Rest one leg behind you on a bench or chair and slowly squat on the opposite leg. Do three sets of ten reps on each leg. Hold light weights for more of a challenge.
3) You need a stronger back.
Try the Superman: Lie on your stomach with arms and legs extended in front and behind you. Lift both your upper body and legs a few inches off the floor. Hold for five seconds, rest, and repeat ten times.
4) You’ll have better form.
Try the sit-down run: Sit up straight on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. While holding light weights or soup cans, pump your arms to mimic the act of sprinting for 30 seconds. Rest and repeat five times.
5) You’ll be more toned.
Try Pilates: Hamberger swears by Pilates as a runner-centric cross-training method. By incorporating small, repeated movements, Pilates aims to increase joint mobility and build core and upper-body strength. Try Well+Being’s five-step Pilates workout.