Runners, unlike most other athletes, rarely have a true off-season. They spend their winter months skiing, cross training (endurance), and finding ways to run. This imbalance of training type, volume, and intensity is one of the primary reasons runners end up coming to physical therapy before they start race season.
Strength training is known to provide a wide array of benefits: It can improve power, speed, running efficiency, and overall tolerance to activity. Recent studies have shown that weight lifting does not have a detrimental effect on running, and may decrease injury rates.
The biggest misconception about weight lifting for most runners is the need to perform low weight, and high repetition exercises. This can be beneficial, but is redundant for their endurance work. Studies have shown that runners benefit most from 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions, targeting the major muscle groups such as quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Even just 2 days a week for 30 minutes is enough to reap the benefits of weight lifting.
For those who are unfamiliar with strength training, it is highly recommended to meet with a professional (physical therapist, personal trainer, etc.) who can teach correct form, tempo, and progression of exercises. Looking for a familiar face with years of running experience? Stop by the Bridger Orthopedic tent at the next BRC event, or come to the Bridger Orthopedic West location. There are several highly qualified trainers and physical therapists who often staff or participate in BRC events and local races.
Levi Taylor, PT, DPT
Average to slow runner, self-proclaimed shoe nerd, and physical therapist
Jones, Paul; Bamporous, Theodoros. Resistance training for distance running: A brief review. Strength and Conditioning Journal. 29: 28-35. 2007