General Strength Training For Distance Runners

Running works only the sagittal plane of movement. In order to become a better overall, more resilient athlete, it's important to also train the front and transverse planes of movement.

Become A Better Athlete

Running itself is one of the most effective exercises for building the aerobic system. Unfortunately, it’s not very effective for developing balance, overall strength, athleticism, and flexibility. In fact, the more you focus on running (building your mileage and making less time for other activities) the worse you become as an overall athlete. Case in point: weeks before running 28:40 for 10K, I strained a hip flexor playing wiffle ball in the backyard with my 8 year-old cousin. An “athlete” capable of Olympic Trials performances shouldn’t be that susceptible to injuries.

Why is this?

Running is a repetitive and largely unvarying motion. Your foot plant is roughly the same with each step and the entire running movement occurs in what is called the sagittal plane (front to back of the body), which is what moves you forward. When running correctly, you’ll spend very little time moving side-to-side (frontal plane) or twisting/rotating your trunk (transverse plane).  Consequently, the muscles used to activate and support the transverse and frontal plane movements become weak and prone to injury.

Not only does this increase your risk of injury in activities outside running (like my wiffle ball story), but it also increases your risk of running-related injuries. For example, not being proficient in the frontal plan will result in weak hips and adductors, which is often the cause of IT band problems.

Performing general strength exercises to ensure you’re addressing all three planes of movement decreases your risk of both running-related and general injuries.

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