5 Running Strength Training Tips
What follows are five running strength training tips that you can follow to improve your all-around running training. Many runners, whether on purpose (because they believe that their type of running doesn't require it) or just out of lack of awareness, neglect running strength training. But the fact is that running strength training improves your overall fitness levels. If you compete in races, running strength training will enhance your performance and give you a better chance of winning or finishing with the top dogs. Running training needs to include some focused strength training, not merely running the miles to make your slow-twitch muscles stronger and your cardiovascular system stronger. So, without further ado, here are five tips to improve your running training system with some strength training.
- Cross-train with kettlebells. Kettlebells were made famous by those highly competitive Russian athletes. These free weights are ideal for using to strengthen your core. Core strength enhancement is a vital component for total running training. Most kettlebells come with some kind of exercise manual for you to follow.
- Do some plyometrics. Many runners think plyometrics are only for those athletes who need to jump a lot or do a lot of lateral movement. Wrong. Plyometrics will strengthen your feet, ankles, legs, buttocks, and lower back, all areas where strength-building running training is very important.
- Do intervals. Doing intervals simply means mixing up your running training sessions with sprinting as a distance runner. To do intervals, it may help to go to a nearby public track. You will sprint for a pre-determined distance, and then follow up each sprint with some form of recovery lap(s). You may do a 400-meter sprint at 85 percent speed, followed up by one or two recovery laps, four times. You might choose to do eight 200-meter all-out sprints with each sprint followed by a 200-meter recovery lap. There are other variations that you can read upon and experiment with, too. Sprinting enhances the strength of your fast-twitch muscles (very important for your "final drive" to the finish line), and increases your overall cardio and physical core strength. Do interval running training sessions twice per week.
- Do fartlek. Despite the funny sounding name (it's Norwegian), fartlek training has proven to be highly effective strength enhancing running training. Fartlek is something like interval training, except you incorporate it into a distance running training session. Let's say you're out for a five mile run. Every half mile, choose some kind of target such as a telephone pole that is about 50 or 60 yards in front of you, and immediately launch into an all-out sprint to get to it. Once you reach the target, settle back into your distance running pace for another half a mile, then repeat.
- Climb hills or stairs. Stair or hill climbing probably needs no explanation for being a runner's strength training technique. What's important here is doing it in a disciplined way. Take one running training session every week and, after a one to two mile warm up jog, start running up a stairwell or a steep hill. As a guidepost, if you can find a hill that's about one mile high, run up and down that hill three times (six miles total). For shorter hills or for stairs, adjust the number of climbs accordingly.
You can probably find some additional methods for strength training as a runner, but these five tips listed above will get you seriously stronger!