Want to be a better runner? Build strength!

As training director, I hear all the time about how people want to get faster, have better form or feel less fatigued during their long runs. One of my most common responses is, "well, what do you do for strength training?". A lot of times all I get back are blank stares. 

It may seem counter-intuitive, but doing body weight exercises, lifting weights, and performing plyometrics are some of the absolute best ways to improve your running. Yes, to be a good runner, you must run. But to be a better runner, there are many other things you must do as well- get plenty of rest, hydrate, foam roll, eat well and do strength training

Strength training can improve your running in several ways.

Speed: 
To become a faster runner you must build your powerhouse muscles in your legs. The stronger those muscles are the more force they can generate pushing off the ground. This translates into faster running
times. You want to hit these muscles in 3 fashions- low weight, high reps to build endurance, high weight, low reps to build muscle mass and plyometrics (basically anything where you jump or move quickly) to build power. By doing all 3 types, your muscles will have the strength and power to move you quickly over the ground and the endurance to repeat these motions for miles on end. 

Running Form: 
Strength training is a great way to improve running form. It does this by making your body perform different functions and movements than in running. Running only uses certain muscles in one plane of motion (forward). Strength training forces your muscles to not only move forward and back, but side to side and twist- all of the planes of motion. Every body has certain imbalances, tendencies and "weak spots". When we only move in one direction, these weak spots are never corrected. By forcing your body to do all different types of movements, every muscles is utilized and strengthened. This means that next time you run, more muscles are called into action, making you a more efficient runner. You aren't wasting any energy (which can also translate into faster running times- it's all very cyclical that way). :) 

Less Fatigued: 
This may seem obvious, but the stronger you are, the less your body fatigues over time. To build running endurance, you must gradual run longer and farther than before. This allows your body to get used to moving for greater bouts of time. Another way to build endurance is to strength train. Again, the stronger your muscles are the slower they will fatigue and the longer you will be able to run before your form collapses (I told you this all connected!).  By strength training you are able to push your muscles harder and build endurance with less chance of injury due to too high of mileage or training volume. 

So ok, now you know why strength training is important...but what now?
Well, I may be a bit biased, but out of all your options (at your home, at the gym, etc) I believe our Fleet Feet Bootcamp to be the best one. Not only will Coach Nikki challenge your body, but you also have someone to keep you accountable and a super fun bunch of people to workout with. There is nothing worse than trying to jam out a bunch of burpees all by yourself. But if you know 30 other people are doing it with you? Then it's not so bad. Everyone is very motivating and not at all competitive. All levels are welcome and everyone works to their own ability. It's a blast! 

Our next session starts tomorrow! There are morning, evening and punch card options available. Will you join me and become a better runner? Don't miss out! 

Amy Rihel
Training Director
Fleet Feet Sacramento  

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