Last summer, after being a runner for most of my life I finally ran my first marathon. I wish I could tell you the experience was glorious and fulfilling, but the truth is it was an absolute grind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m crazy proud I did it and I’m itching to do another one! But getting there hurt. Twelve weeks into my training I started experiencing pain in my left leg. It was a recurring IT band issue that plagued me during my college years and always flared up when my mileage got higher. Like most runners do, I ran through it. I knew what was wrong and short of resting it, there was nothing I could do to fix it at that point.
Thanks to determination, lots of ice, ibuprofen, and stretching I was able to run my race. Despite the setback with my leg I turned out a decent first marathon performance, and now that I’m sitting here looking at the 2017 schedule I really don’t want to go through the same nagging issues I had last year, so this year I made myself a promise to be just as dedicated in the weight room as I am when I hit the roads and trails. Why the weights? Chances are if you’ve been at this whole running thing for awhile you know why resistance training is important, but just in case you’re a new runner or you need a friendly reminder, here are 3 reasons resistance training should be part of your training schedule this spring!
This is the obvious one of course, but how exactly does strength training help prevent injury for runners? When you run your body has to absorb impact forces each time your foot hits the ground. The farther we run the more force our body has to absorb. When muscles fatigue they have an increased risk for injury because they can’t absorb impact forces as well. Most runners know they should progressively increase their mileage, but adding in strength training can further improve the body’s ability to absorb impact forces. By lifting weights your muscles, tendons, and ligaments get stronger and more resilient to the tensile forces that come with running. You won’t fatigue as quickly and you might even get a little faster. Additionally, resistance training can help mitigate strength imbalances. For example, many runners suffer form lateral hip instability due to weaknesses in hip musculature. A targeted strengthening program can help balance a runner out, leading to fewer repetitive stress injuries.
Maintaining Lean Mass
Runners are often worried about bulking up if they start lifting weights. Stop worrying! When it comes to strength training for runners, the goal is to improve their strength without increasing their body weight.With the right training program runners will maintain their weight, increase lean muscle, and decrease their fat mass. Yahoo! This is especially important in the off-season. Maintaining or increasing lean muscle is key to keeping your body weight low. Also, you might enjoy showing off your toned muscles more often. Nothing wrong with that!
Now here’s the ultimate question: How efficient of a runner are you? Efficiency is everything when you want to run faster and farther. Running economy (RE) is your ability to utilize energy and oxygen while running at a set pace for a given distance. So runners who have good RE can use less oxygen and expend less energy when running at a set pace. Strength training to the rescue! Since running involves the whole body, ALL the muscles need to be strong to move efficiently. Strengthening the main running muscles as well as the stabilizing muscles allows the whole body to be more efficient and produce more force to propel you forward.
Hopefully you’re sufficiently excited to get to work now that you know the benefits of resistance training for runners! Not sure where to start? Come see us at AFS! We’re doing discounted movement screens and gait analyses to help runners identify their imbalances before an injury issue occurs.
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