Strength training for runners

Why strength training is so important for runners

Whether you’re an experienced marathon runner or just starting your journey, incorporating strength training into your routine can help take your running game to the next level.

Often overlooked, particularly by those who don’t consider themselves “serious” runners, strength training can enhance your performance – helping you smash those PBs – as well as preventing injury and improving your overall health and fitness.

And don’t worry if you’re new to it. There’s no need for lots of expensive, scary-looking equipment. You can begin reaping the rewards with minimal investment.


What exactly is strength training?

Strength training involves exercises specifically designed to increase muscular strength, endurance and power. It targets your muscles, tendons and bones, rather than your cardiovascular fitness, providing a solid foundation for efficient and injury-free running.

What are the key benefits?

  • Injury prevention: Running puts repetitive stress on certain muscles and joints, increasing the risk of injury. Strength training helps counteract this by improving muscular imbalances and strengthening weak areas.

By developing stronger muscles, tendons and ligaments you can stabilise your joints, reduce the risk of injuries like shin splints and runner’s knee, and even reduce existing pain.

  • Enhanced power and speed: Exercises like squats, lunges and plyometrics (intense bursts of energy for short periods of time) can boost your explosive power, enabling you to accelerate quicker and maintain higher speeds during sprints or hill climbs.
  • Increased endurance: Endurance is not just about how far you can run but also about how well your muscles can endure the repetitive motion of running. Incorporating exercises that target your lower body, such as leg presses or step-ups, can improve your muscular endurance, enabling you to maintain a steady pace for longer distances.
  • Core strength and stability: A strong core is vital for maintaining proper running form, posture and stability. Exercises like planks, Russian twists, or bridges can strengthen your abdominal, back, and hip muscles, reducing excessive sway or rotation during each stride. Improved core strength also translates into better balance, reducing the risk of tripping or falling during your runs.
  • Bone density and joint health: Strength training not only builds stronger muscles but also enhances bone density, especially in weight-bearing exercises like squats or deadlifts. This can be particularly beneficial for runners, as it reduces the risk of stress fractures and, longer-term, developing conditions like osteoporosis.


So, where do I start?

If you’re not already incorporating strength training into your exercise routine, you may be wondering how to get started.

Here are our top tips for no-stress strength training:

  • Start simple: Begin with bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, or planks. You can do these at home, in a park, or while waiting for the kettle to boil! Anywhere that’s convenient for you.
  • Gradually increase intensity: As your strength improves consider adding resistance bands, dumbbells or kettlebells to your workouts. These don’t have to cost a fortune and can provide additional challenges and variety.
  • Be consistent: Aim for two to three strength training sessions per week, alternating between different muscle groups. Consistency is key to reaping the long-term benefits of strength training.