When you are new to running the most important thing to do is just run.
Stop the procrastination, get the doubts out of your head, because at the end of the day you have to start somewhere.
The problem is that most runners don’t realise that there is more to running training then just running.
Many runners neglect the other factors that can help prevent injury and can improve running speed.
I am talking about core training, flexibility and obviously strength training.
Running strength training is different to the type of strength training you do when you just want to get fit or look better.
Running strength training isn’t about aesthetics it purely performance based.
For this reason, running strength training needs to be specific to your training goals.
What does a running strength training plan consist of?
If you want to run faster you will need to train both your upper body and lower body.
You will also need to train your core muscles. The best way to do this is to perform compound movements, which I will explain later.
Is there a difference between strength training for injury prevention and for performance?
For injury prevention it is probably best to do isolation exercises. Isolation exercises are when you focus on one or two muscle groups.
The goal is to isolate a weak muscle in order to strengthen it.
The muscle you will isolate is normally a weak muscle that may later lead to a potential injury.
Isolated exercises are different to compound exercises, which aims to work multiple muscles at the same time.
Compound exercises are better for running overall because your muscles do not work in isolation during running.
The 6 running strength training exercises I have recommended consist mainly of compound exercises.
What is the difference between free weights and machine weights?
There is a big difference between doing free weights and machine weights for running strength training.
Machine weights are very easy to use and greatly reduce the chances of you getting injured.
You will get some benefit from doing machine weights. One of the major problems is that many machine weight exercises are not compound movements.
Many machines are isolated, and as I explained earlier muscles work together and not in isolation when you are running.
Free weight exercises require more skill and greater knowledge compared to machine weight exercises.
You will increase the chance of getting an injury if you use a weight greater then you can manage with poor form.
However, the benefits of doing free weight exercises are so much greater. For instance, you are required to stabilise the weights yourself.
This cause you to recruit more muscles, which will help you improve your stabilisation and strength at the joint.
It can also lead to greater core strength.
One of the best running strength exercise to perform to increase your core strength and strength of your running muscles is the squat.
This is because it works the muscles around your hip, knees and ankles in a fairly similar way to running.
Also, because you have weight going through the spine you will need to learn how to engage your core to prevent lower back pain.
Once you learn this it will increase your core strength big time!
This exercise will also lengthen and strengthen the hamstring muscles, which is the muscle in the back of your upper thigh.
It will also strengthen your gluteus maximus (buttocks), which is the key muscle for running power.
It will also strengthen your quadriceps (front of your legs).
Another great running strength training exercise is the lunge. It is very similar to the squat.
However, when you do a lunge your body is in a split stance, and this split stance is similar to the ever-changing split stance you go through with each stride you take when you run.
Here are my top 6 running strength training exercises which includes one isolated exercise for injury prevention and 5 compound exercise to improve your running.
My running strength training plan:
Lunge: This exercise is like the split stance that you adopt when you are running. Make sure you keep your body upright, squeeze your core muscles and make sure your back knee almost touches the floor. This exercise is great for improving your core strength.
2. Bench press: For your running strength training program it is important that you train the whole body. This means that you need to train the upper body as well if you want to improve your running performance. The bench press works your chest, shoulders and the back of the arms. Your grip should be wider then your shoulder width, as you lower the bar to the centre of your chest, just above your nipple line. Your elbows should always be under the bar.
3. Squat:. As I mentioned before this is one of the best exercises for improving your running muscles as well boosting your core strength. Ideally when you lower yourself to the ground your bum will almost touch the floor, however, if you don’t have good flexibility you will have to squat as low as your body allows.
4. Upright Row: This is a pulling exercise, which means it will work the back and the front of the arms. Take a grip slightly wider then shoulder width apart and bring the bar as high as your nipple line. Make sure the bar never goes above your wrist. This will ensure that you will always engage the muscles of your upper back.
5. Bent over row: To perform this exercise correctly you will need to develop good strength in your core to make sure that you do not strain your lower back. This is a great exercise for strengthening your core, back muscles and the front of your arms. Make sure you pull the bar to just under your chest. Keep your elbows nice and wide and make sure you maintain your body position throughout this exercise.
6. The Bridge. This is an isolation exercise for the gluteus maximus (buttocks muscle). Keep your abdominal muscles squeezed as you raise your bum off the ground.