As runners, we tend to forget about every other type of exercise. We think that running is the only way to get better and faster, but miles aren’t always the answer. Weight training is just as important as running, especially if you want to improve and stay injury free.
Now that you’re either interested or doubtful, it’s important to know that the standard strength training routine (bicep curls, bench press, and leg extensions) are essentially useless for making you a better runner. The only benefit these exercises give you is making you look good (which I'm not saying is a bad thing), however, it could increase your risk of injury because these workouts often lead to strength imbalances between muscle groups and around joints.
As runners, we need a special strength-training workout that targets key muscle groups. People in general tend to focus more on the muscles they can see and end up neglecting the ones that they can’t. Back muscles are extremely important for runners because upper back muscles help with proper running form and lower back muscles help propel you forward. Hamstrings are also important to strengthen because runners work their quads more often and it creates an imbalance among the two muscles, leading to injury.
Another very important part of your body to strengthen is your core. Your core is where all other body movements stem from and if it’s strong, then all other parts of your body perform better. A strengthened core prevents injuries. It also helps with breathing because your lungs don’t have to work as hard, lessening your chances of getting cramps.
Full body lifting also increases bone density which decreases your chances of getting a stress fracture. The best type of lifting for runners is circuit training. Circuit training is a combination of high-intensity aerobics and resistance training. It targets strength building, muscular endurance, and fat loss. Fat loss is important because the leaner and lighter you are, the faster you’ll run.
There are many benefits to lifting, you'll look better, run faster, and stay injury free! So remember, muscles & miles are key!