By Marcia Scott
For most runners, strength training or weight training is not the first thing that comes to mind for improving performance. However, picking up some weights and hitting the gym can greatly increase your speed and endurance while helping to burn fat and increase energy. Even as little as 10-20 minutes of strength training per day can make a big impact in your training and help you overcome a plateau or reach a new level of fitness.
Stronger muscles and joints mean less risk of hurting yourself. By improving structural fitness, or the ability for your body to withstand the impact of running, you’ll position yourself to stay healthy and on the pavement. The stronger your body is, the stronger you’ll be as a runner.
No matter if you’re a sprinter or a marathoner, strength training can help you gain speed by improving your body’s efficiency to use energy and oxygen. Using oxygen efficiently is a big component of endurance training. If you can decrease the amount of oxygen needed to run at a specific speed, your pace for a certain distance and overall training will improve.
DECREASE BODY FAT.
Each pound of additional weight that you carry with you on a run can affect your pace and performance. Strength training and building lean muscle helps the body burn more fat. Muscle and lean tissue improve your metabolism, which can help make you lighter and faster. You’ll also be burning more calories during activity and rest, making you leaner and more efficient on the road.
STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE.
One of the most neglected areas of a runner’s body is their core. A stronger core can help prevent back pain and other issues with running. Certain exercises such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, and chin-ups will improve core strength and ultimately make you a faster runner.
AVOID THE BULK.
Worried about bulking up? Consider doing lighter weights and more reps in order to gain muscle tone instead of bulking up.
Marcia Scott is the Training Program Coordinator at Fleet Feet Sports. For more information call (901) 761.0078 or visit fleetfeetmemphis.com.