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Running strong – why runners should do strength training

One reason many people love running is because it’s simple. You can run pretty much anywhere at any time and it’s easy to fit around other commitments. However, an increasing number of runners are looking for additional ways to improve their overall fitness. One of the best choices they can make is a weekly strength workout.

Some running groups are so convinced of the benefits of strength training that they offer specific programs, such as Runlab’s Runstrong. “We started Runstrong because we found many runners were reaching a certain level and then getting injured”, explains Runlab’s founder Vlad Shatrov. Strength training can reduce the chances of that happening and has a range of other benefits as well.

Why you should do strength training

  • It builds muscle and power
  • It improves balance and posture, enabling you to hold your form and run more efficiently for longer
  • It reduces the chance of injury and is useful for rehabilitation as well as maintaining fitness if you are sidelined
  • It provides a break from pounding the pavement whilst still improving fitness
  • It builds bone density
  • It provides a training alternative on cold, wet, dark nights

What to do

  • Choose exercises that are functional and will improve your running
  • Look for compound moves such as push-ups and squats which work several joints and muscles at once and are less likely to result in strain and injury
  • Include activities that are dynamic and challenging and leave you slightly out of breath
  • Always watch your form and engage your core
  • Perform strength-training at least once a week to see results
  • Keep changing the load and intensity, just as you do in running, for continuous improvement

Runners’ workout

Now you have a good idea of what to do here’s how you can get started!

Do each exercise below for 30 seconds, then take 30 seconds of rest before moving onto the next, repeating each round of exercises three times. You can increase the total exercise time as you get fitter.  And remember to always stretch when finished.

Russian Twist

  1. Lie down on the floor and place your feet under something that won’t move or get a partner to hold them, legs should be bent at the knees
  2. Sit up and lean back slightly, your torso should create a v-shape with your thighs
  3. Extend arms out in front of you, perpendicular to your torso and with hands clasped
  4. Twist your torso to the right, until your arms are parallel with the floor
  5. Hold for a second then move back to the centre and turn to the left
  6. Repeat

Wall Sit Kick

  1. Stand with your back against a wall
  2. Put your feet far enough in front of you so when you slide your back down the wall your thighs are parallel to the ground, knees at 90 degrees
  3. Hold this position with your back pressed into the wall
  4. To make the exercise harder lift one leg at a time, slowly alternating between each leg

Sit To Stand

  1. Sit on a chair with feet shoulder-width apart
  2. On one leg slowly stand up and balance on that leg
  3. Slowly lower yourself back down onto the chair and repeat on the other leg
  4. This exercise should be done in a slow controlled motion taking care to ensure your knee stays pointing forward and you brace your core for stability

Alternating Lunges

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart
  2. Place hands on hips and brace your core
  3. Place one foot forward as if taking a step forward then bend knees so the front knee is at a right angle and back knee is close to the ground
  4. Stand up and step the foot back to original position
  5. Swap legs and repeat action with other leg, alternating between the two legs
  6. Take care not to dip hips to one side and ensure your back knee drops as low as you can go
  7. The key with this exercise is form – you aren’t trying to do as many as you can in 30 seconds, you are trying to do as many as you can with the best form you can hold

Burpees

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, hands by your sides
  2. Squat down and place your hands on the floor in front of you
  3. Jump both feet behind you so you end up in a push-up start position
  4. Lower your chest to the ground and complete a push-up
  5. Jump both feet back up to their original position close to your chest and stand back up with your hands by your sides
  6. You can progress this exercise by finishing with a jump and your hands above your head

Running Man/Mountain climbs

  1. Get into the plank position, arms fully extended then tuck one of your knees up to your chest without letting your foot touch the ground, return it and repeat with the other knee
  2. Repeat as fast as you can, keeping your core engaged and hips low and in the plank position

Stay tuned for more exercise tips leading up to the Real Insurance Sydney Harbour 10k & 5k!

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