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Carrie Burrows iRun Magazine

4 benefits to strength training for runners

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There is still a great deal of debate over whether a runner should augment their running regimen with the addition of strength training.  Arguments can be made for both sides depending on the school of thought you wish to subscribe to.  Most of the debate centres on body weight and the bulk that strength training can potentially add, which is not something a runner wants to saddled with.

But, let’s be realistic here, no runner wants to add body weight so let’s stop the debate and focus on strength training without adding body weight. Is it possible? Of course it is.

Strength training doesn’t have to include heavy weights, reps and sets that build muscle mass.  Strength training can easily include a program that gives runners the added benefits without putting on mass or trying to change the structure of the ‘runner’s physique’.

Why strength train?

A strong runner is a better runner.

A strong runner is a happy runner.

A strong runner is a faster runner.

A strong runner is an injury-free runner.

The benefits of strength training for runners are undeniable. Runners who strength train improve their performance and prevent injuries. Adding weights to your training will challenge your body systems in different ways that just running alone can’t. Your body is an adaptive machine that continually looks for and learns how to do tasks as easily and efficiently as possible. That means that over time, the benefits (calorie loss, stress and function) become easier for the body to manage.  Adding strength training mixes up the body and doesn’t allow for the systems to become automated as easily, thus creating a kind of unbalance inside you that causes optimal benefit realization.

Over time, any foundation breaks down. Roads, homes, buildings, all rely on continual assessment and repairs to their foundation to allow for continual use.  Your body is no different. Your bones and connective tissue need to be reinforced and the best way to do that is with strength training.  Strength training assists in not just giving your muscles more capacity for endurance but it assists your bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles to help withstand the impact of running on those areas.

If your goal is to run faster, easier or with less (or no) pain, then strength training is your answer. In this new column, we’ll explore what you can do to help yourself run strong.

iRun Magazine

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