Athletics Weekly often publishes sample training schedules of successful, elite athletes. I challenge you to find one of these which doesn’t feature strength and conditioning. Endurance athletes would not survive their 80, 90, 100, 140 mile training weeks without it. You may not be pushing anywhere near that type of mileage but if you’re hoping to increase your speed, distance, or both, you run the same risks of injury, which can be drastically reduced by strength and conditioning work.
What Is Strength And Conditioning?
The name suggests weightlifting, doesn’t it? The thought of going to the gym and sharing weights and posing mirrors with perma-tanned chunks, who look down at your barbell with a sneer as if to say “is that all?” fills a lot of runners, and normal people, with dread. The good news is that most runners perform strength and conditioning exercises which utilise their own bodyweight, in the comfort of their own home. And if they want to listen to Kylie whilst they do it, they will! As well as increasing strength, strength and conditioning programs can also increase speed, stamina, flexibility, stability, mobility and balance.
Why Is Strength And Conditioning Important For Runners?
If I asked you to lift three times your own bodyweight, would you be able to do it? You’d need a lot of strength to do that, wouldn’t you? What if I asked you do to do it 10,000 times in an hour? Now I’m being silly. Or am I? I don’t want to scare you off running, but every time your foot hits the floor during a run, it sends a force of up to three times your own bodyweight through your foot. No wonder runners are always injured! This force goes up through your body and any weak areas will be hardest hit. You may have a lot of natural strength. You may have a manual job which makes you strong. If you have neither of these, the chances are you’ll have more than one weak area, which strength and conditioning will improve.
What Are The Benefits Of Strength And Conditioning On Running?
I hope the last answer has persuaded you why it’s important in terms of injury prevention, so for this answer I’ll focus on performance improvement.
The stronger your leg muscles, the more force they’ll generate from each footstrike and the longer and quicker each stride will be. Stronger shoulders and arms will help you generate more momentum.
I wrote this blog about the benefits of good balance to running. Addressing your weak spots through strength and conditioning will give you the performance gains I talk about in that blog.
I also wrote a blog about the importance of core strength in running. Guess what? Strength and conditioning will massively improve your core strength, and give you the benefits that go with it.
There are several studies with tangible evidence that strength and conditioning will help you run faster and for longer. Feel free to search the internet for them. This one (The Effects of Resistance Training on Endurance) reviewed a few of them and confirmed an absolute minimum of 2.9% improvement for 3-5k runners. This means that if you’re currently doing a 25 minute parkrun, you could be doing it in 24:16 – at the slowest – after a short program of strength and conditioning work.
If you’re still not convinced, how about the fact that those more defined muscles will look better? And as fat burns fewer calories than muscle, turning one into the other means you’ll burn more calories, even when resting. Soon those beefcakes at the gym won’t be the only ones using a posing mirror!
What Will Happen If I Don’t Do Strength And Conditioning?
Are you hoping to increase your speed or mileage? Do you ever get injuries? Do you have areas for improvement in your running form? Will your body deteriorate as you get older? If you answered ‘no’ to all of these questions then: “Hi Superman!” As a superhuman, the chances are you’ll be fine to leave the strength and conditioning. For the rest of us, working on strength and conditioning will help you update your record book and not your physio’s appointment book.
Every elite athlete, bar none, does strength and conditioning work. Feel free to prove me wrong!
Each step you run puts the force of up to three times your bodyweight through your foot. Strength and conditioning will help you deal with the repeated stress that impact puts on your body
Strength and conditioning will make each step more powerful and your stride will therefore be faster and longer
Strength and conditioning will improve your core and balance. This means fewer injuries and better form
The Strength and Conditioning Challenges in the We Run Virtual Running Club can be done using your own bodyweight in the comfort of your own home
Want To Improve Your Strength and Conditioning?
✅ Join our Virtual Running Club and get access to our full range of 30-Day Strength & Conditioning Challenges, all designed around the most common areas runners need to work on.
You’ll also benefit from:
• Training Plans tailored to your goals
• Regular Coach Tips videos
• Pilates & Yoga for Runners classes
• Constant support via our private Facebook Group
• And tons more!