The Benefits of Strength Training for Runners
As a runner, you might consider augmenting your routine with strength training to reduce injury risk and improve running efficiency. More than these benefits, there’s a lot more to gain from lifting weights. These insights on the advantages of strength training might propel you to get that gym membership or invest in free weights.
Well-respected Rhode Island-based running coach Montana DePasquale believes the wonders of strength training to be magical. DePasquale utilizes exercise science in all her training programs. She shares some unique benefits of incorporating short, heavy strength sessions into your running regimen.
Increased Mobility and Range of Motion (Without Stretching!)
Most runners are known for their distaste or avoidance of stretching. Still, tight, sometimes sore muscles are usually a part of extensive training. According to DePasquale, if you frequently feel tight, your muscles might be weak. Lifting heavy weights can serve as a form of loaded stretching, tackling both strength and flexibility at once, hence reducing chronic tightness over time.
Boosted Quality of Life
Strength training is significantly beneficial for athletes, particularly as they age. “Numerous studies have confirmed the immense benefits of strength training for older athletes,” says DePasquale. She adds, “It’s been proven to counteract bone loss (reducing osteoporosis and osteopenia risks), decrease risk of falls, improve mental well-being, and increase the likelihood of independence as one ages.” With strength training, runners can anticipate better mental health and longevity in their sport.
Enhanced Finishing Kick
Research has demonstrated that heavy strength training can boost maximal running speed and neuromuscular performance, leading to a stronger finishing kick in races. DePasquale suggests that gaining strength, when combined with brief speed workouts, can enhance leg turnover and help runners finish strong.
Improved Balance and Coordination
“Heavy strength training engages a substantial amount of muscle fibers, builds core strength, and enhances joint stability, all of which are vital for improving body control, balance, and coordination,” DePasquale explains. Not only does strength training improve your structural tolerance (your body’s adaptability to running’s demands on joints, tendons, and muscles), but it also makes you a more robust and stable athlete. You may even see a boost in your yoga practice!