Over the years I have noticed that many people believe endurance athletes do not need to include strength training in their programming. To the contrary, strength work is essential to a runner’s training plan. The most common reason that runners neglect strength training is that they believe it will add bulk to their lean frames. This is not true, in fact for most people it takes a strict diet rich in protein and overall calorie surplus to put on any noticeable muscle mass.
One of the primary benefits is that it’s an unrivaled tool for injury prevention, mobility and recovery. Most runners experience injuries, so this is perhaps the most useful training method for them as the stronger you get, the more resilient your body will become to the demands of running. This is because strength training helps to improve structural weaknesses in your body, whether in the muscles, joints, or connective tissues. The repetitive impact of running won’t wear you down as much and any pre-existing conditions will be less likely to worsen. Specifically, strengthening the hips and glutes is one of the best injury prevention measures a runner can take. Another unknown benefit is the enhanced recovery that strength training elicits. By selecting appropriate compound exercises and participating in low rep, high weight strength training, participants will illicit a hormonal response which brings many benefits.
Strength training also builds core strength, which is particularly important for distance runners. A strong core will not only look great, it’ll also help contribute to better posture throughout the day and while running. This means you’ll be a more efficient runner who reaches fatigue at a far slower rate and maintain great form for much longer. What this means is that strength training will help you run faster by improving your efficiency, allowing you to impart more force into the ground, and train healthy for longer periods of time.