Strength Training for Runners
I see a lot of runners in clinic. The clear majority of them when asked about whether they do any strength training alongside their running respond with no. There seems to be a common belief amongst runners that the only way to get quicker or run further is to run more. Thankfully, there is now evidence emerging that strength training alongside a running program can actually improve running performance.
A recent study by Karsten et al. looked at the Effects of a Sports Specific Maximal Strength and Conditioning Training on 5km performance. They found that performing a 6-week strengthening program on top of their normal running significantly improved their 5km times over those that just did their normal running. The exercises were carried out two days per week and only included 4 exercises, these were: Romanian dead lifts, parallel squat, calf raises and lunges. The exercises were all carried out at 80% of the athletes 1 rep. max. The gains were however lost if the exercises were not maintained. However, if the exercises were kept up just once per week, these benefits were maintained.
In conclusion, this study highlights the benefits of strength training for runners. The great thing is in the long term it only needs to be done once a week. There can be no excuses for not doing them! So, if you are wanting to improve your parkrun PB, just two strength sessions per week over 6 weeks is likely to help. The exercises included in the study are shown below.
Lunge Parallel Squat
Calf Raises Romanian Deadlift
Karsten B, Stevens L, Colpus M, Larumbe-Zabala E, Naclerio F. The Effects of a Sport-Specific Maximal Strength and Conditioning Training on Critical Velocity, Anaerobic Running Distance, and 5-km Race Performance.
Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2016 Jan;11(1):80-5.