When I first started running three years ago, I was just getting into a fitness routine and was pretty out of shape. I was, of course, a slow runner. I wasn’t sure that I would ever learn to love running or even tolerate it. But over time I was gradually able to add miles to my runs and improve my speed a little bit. I found that running was empowering and gave me a satisfying way to clear my mind and take care of my body.
I signed up for race after race, I pushed myself as hard as I could, but I still couldn’t improve my run times very much. I completed a brutal 11 mile mountain trail race and felt completely worn out and broken. It took me weeks to recover. That’s when I decided that there must be something that I was missing. How could such a race completely overwhelm me?
It was then that I began taking strength training seriously. It only took me 6 weeks to see significant improvements and literally, everything changed. Not only did my runs improve, but my overall energy levels skyrocketed. I didn’t join a gym, I used kettle bells, dumb bells, PiYo and Tabata style workouts to build muscle and improve my aerobic capacity.
So when I came across this recent study, I knew I had to share. A team of researchers found that 6 weeks of strength training, twice a week resulted in significant improvements in 5K run times. The authors suggest that these results should translate to longer distances as well. Four runner-specific exercises were employed–Romanian deadlifts, parallel squats, calf raises, and lunges. The researchers also stress that this type of training is beneficial for preventing running related injuries as well.
That seems pretty doable, right? I’m here to tell you that it can make a huge difference! For me, the biggest benefits have been the overall improvements in energy and muscle mass. I’m pretty happy about the improvements in run times, too.
If you are a runner (even a beginner,) do you add strength training to your fitness routine?