Strength Training for Runners.

Thank you for all of your sweet and encouraging comments on yesterday’s post πŸ™‚ What would I do without you guys?!

Without my running to keep me busy this past week I have been doing a ton of strength training. I may not be setting PRs and running further than I ever have before, but I will have huge slightly larger biceps instead πŸ˜‰ It is always difficult to balance running and strength training, especially during marathon or half marathon season. Attempting to add weight lifting or even core work to a 50 mile week is hard, but not quite impossible. Plus, strength training will help prevent injuries and make you a stronger runner. 

I listed a few of my favourite moves for each part of your body. A strong core is ESSENTIAL to good running form and it will help you get faster. Most of the moves listed use more than just the body part specified, especially when you try and engage your core throughout your whole strength workout. I would never be able to do all of this weight lifting in one workout, it would take hours and I wouldn’t be able to move the next day! I like to train different body parts on different days. For instance, one day I will do 45 minutes of arms and back, and another day I will take 30 minutes to focus on legs. Here is a really good article with 10 reasons why runners should strength train.

… and the most important one πŸ˜‰

I do a lot of work with weights at the gym but so much of this can be done with just your body weight at home while watching TV. Wall sits, pushups, planks, and lunges, just to name a few, don’t require any dumbbells or barbells at all! Taking even 15 minutes a day and strengthening your core and hips and legs will make a major difference in your running. 

When I started marathon training I totally slacked in my usual weight lifting and guess what… my muscles lost some strength, they got tight, and they broke! When you feel like body-weight lunges aren’t a challenge anymore, add some dumbbells to your lunge! As your push-ups start getting easier on your knees, see how many you can do on your toes! If I am able to weight lift in a gym, I love using the leg press and the calf raise machines! I like impressing the boys with my 100 lb. calf raises πŸ™‚ 

My physiotherapist recommended doing some of my strength training using one side at a time because usually your dominant side is constantly overcompensating for your weak side and that weak side never gets any stronger. Single-leg leg presses and single-leg squats are killers!

As much as I like to think that being a runner means I don’t need any arm muscle, once again I am proven wrong. Your arms, shoulders, and even your chest muscles, contribute to your running form. Spot training and strengthening JUST your calves or JUST your six-pack is a little like saying, “I think I am going to lose 5 lbs from my left thigh.” It just doesn’t work like that. I hate pushups with a passion but if I do them regularly, I notice my arms getting more toned and my core gets stronger too. Bicep curls aren’t just for those huge insanely-ripped dudes at the gym anymore! Even if you are grabbing the 30 20 15 lb. weights like me, a bicep curl is a bicep curl πŸ™‚

If you want to do weight lifting without actually joining the steroid-crazed monsters in the weight area of your gym, try a drop-in “Pump” or “Maximum Muscle” class. The Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred and other similar DVDs are also GREAT tools that are short, easy, and will leave you amazingly sore the next day… plus you can yell and swear at Jillian Michaels as much as you want in your own home, whereas in a group fitness class they frown upon you doing that to the instructor apparently? You will have more fun that you ever thought possible lifting weights! Plus, check out this awesome factoid (for other physiological science nerds like me)… 

Do YOU strength train as a runner? What are some of your go-to moves/workouts? 


  1. Wow! I really like that ten-point article about the benefits of strength training for runners. Number five would also have to be my favorite. Pain caused by being over fatigued is really the most common reason why people quit running or any other cardio workout. Strength training really works wonders to improve that condition. Anyway, thanks for sharing your awesome post. Stay fit and healthy!

    Ari Maccabi @ InFighting

  2. You are so right! Strength training is super important for runners. I definitely got faster once I started incorporating it into my routine. Funny enough, my trainer at the time noticed that my right calf muscle, and right bicep were quite bigger than my left because of not doing one side at at time. You can bet I changed that right away, lol.

  3. sometimes i’m convinced that all of my injuries have been my body’s way of saying, “don’t forget to do strength and stretch!” one day i hope to remember that on my own without having to go through the pain….silly me.

  4. I have been concentrating more on strength training for the past couple of years and it does make a big difference overall. Great post!

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