Strength training will of course make you stronger. But it can also make your run much easier!
There are tons of advantages to engaging in some amount of strength training for your lower body. Whether it’s squats or the leg press, here’s what a little extra strength can do for you:
Why Getting Stronger Helps You
First off, it makes your regular running easier. If you train your body to start handling much heavier weights using all your muscle fibers, then your body will be able to handle the comparatively light weight of your body easier.
You can do this kind of training in the gym, or with a hill. For example, you might do leg presses one or two days a week at the gym instead of your regular running workout. This will gradually make it easier for you when you’re doing your normal jogging.
If you’re using a hill, practice some hill sprints. These will absolutely murder your legs and are really difficult. I personally love them, though! If you do a lot of hill sprints for a few weeks, and then go back to your regular jogging, running, or sprinting on level ground – it’ll be much easier.
What About Adding Weight While Running?
Some people think you should carry weights when running to build strength. I think adding weight to your running is a tremendously stupid idea, since that’s the way I hurt my knees in high school.
Unless your form is perfect, it will bust up your knees. And even with perfect form, your knees will take a pounding. I’ve found that it’s just not worth it.
Add That Extra Burst At The End of Your Race!
Getting stronger will also give you more oomph when you need to sprint towards the end of a long race. That last 30 meters will be a breeze!
See, if you’re doing any sort of long race you’re not sprinting all out. And if you’re going at more of a jogging pace, you’re only engaging your Type I slow twitch muscle fibers.
So your Type II fast twitch muscle fibers are actually still fully rested by the end of the race. And they are what you draw upon when you want to sprint for that last little bit.
So, if you work to specifically strengthen those Type II fast twitch muscle fibers in the gym with really heavy weights, at the limit of what you can lift, you’ll have a significant amount of power for that end of race sprint. The gym work will be really difficult, but at the end of the race you’ll be much faster.
So, What Now?
See if weight training fits what you want in your running. It can give you some great benefits, but it’s not everybody’s cup of tea.
Start using weights in the gym. Sprint up hills, or get a treadmill in the gym and set it at a really steep incline and sprint up that as fast as you can. Or sprint up hills near your house.
There are many ways to work strength and resistance training into you running. Try them, and watch yourself improve!