Distance runners often get stuck in the trap of training routines that only involve running. Putting in the miles is significant to successful distance running, but resistance training is an often overlooked and incredibly valuable training tool for runners. Not only can resistance training improve running economy and overall strength, but it can also be an effective way to reduce running-related injuries. Whether your long runs are 5 miles or 25 miles, your running program can benefit from weight training.
Create a training schedule. Determine how many days per week you intend to run, and which days you plan to devote to resistance training. On short and recovery run days, you may consider adding weight training. On days when you intend to do intense resistance training, forgo the run altogether. Aim to perform resistance training activities two to three days per week. Don't forget to allow yourself at least one to two days of total rest each week.
Perform a circuit-training workout one or two days per week. Circuit training involves moving from one exercise station to the next in quick succession. This is a great way for runners to include resistance-training exercises because it simultaneously works both aerobic and anaerobic systems. Minimize rest between stations to keep your heart rate elevated.
Integrate general resistance training to improve overall strength. This type of training involves traditional resistance-training exercises utilizing machines, free weights and cables. The big benefit of this type of training for runners is that it allows them to target and strengthen specific muscles. Runners often develop muscle imbalances, for example, between the quadriceps and hamstrings. General resistance training gives them the opportunity to focus on strengthening weak muscles that may cause faulty running patterns.
Perform explosive, plyometric resistance training, including box jumps, sprints, and exercises involving kettlebells and medicine balls. Because of the intensity, these exercises can be limited to one day per week.
Don't be tempted to limit resistance training activities to just your legs. Lower-body exercise are important, but your core and upper body should be strengthened as well in order to improve overall posture and running economy. In order to avoid putting on extra weight or significant muscle mass, keep your weights low and repetitions high when engaging in general resistance and circuit training.
Always talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. If you need assistance with setting up a routine or are not sure how to properly perform an exercise, consult with a fitness professional. Improper form during resistance training exercises can lead to pain and injury.