To run longer and faster, you have to run stronger. Yes, runners should lift weights. Here’s how.
Adding tempo runs, long runs, and speedwork to your routine will help build speed and efficiency, but strength training is key, too. ‘Strength work accomplishes three goals for runners: it prevents injuries by strengthening muscles and connective tissues; it helps you run faster by boosting neuromuscular coordination and power; and it improves your running economy by encouraging coordination and stride efficiency,’ says Jason Fitzgerald, running coach and founder of Strength Running.
Many fear that lifting builds bulky muscle, which will slow you down. But unless you’re lifting very frequently and eating tons of extra calories, you’re unlikely to put on weight that would impair your running, explains Joe Holder, a Nike+ Run Club coach. ‘I remember a quote from a strength coach who said, “There are no weak fast runners”,’ says Fitzgerald.
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Lay the groundwork
Focus on lifting, not on raising your heart rate. Many runners turn their session into a metabolic workout by including too much cardio – think CrossFit workouts or circuit-based fitness classes, says Fitzgerald. But runners get enough cardio. Instead, they should focus on gaining strength and power. Fitzgerald recommends focusing on relatively heavy weights for a moderate number of repetitions, with full recovery.