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.

Increase Your Training Volume

Simply stated, aerobic fitness develops faster than the muscular system (i.e. tendons, muscles, ligaments, and bones). For example, you may be able to hammer out a long run or a tempo run at 8 minutes per mile and not feel aerobically taxed, but your hips aren’t yet strong enough to handle the stress of the pace or volume of the run and your IT band becomes inflamed.

This experience is very common for runners who get injuries such as recurring shin splints or other persistent aches and pains when they first start running. Their aerobic fitness is allowing them to continue to increase the distance of their runs because they no longer feel winded at the end of each run; their shin muscles, however, haven’t adapted to the increased pounding caused by the increase in volume and they quickly become injured.

Therefore, it’s important that new runners and injury-prone athletes include ancillary routines, such as general strength training, into their weekly training plans to speed the development of the muscular system. In doing so, you’ll improve the strength and resiliency of your muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones and enable the muscular system to keep up with your aerobic developments.

Not convinced? Let’s use your own training as an example.

What is holding you back from running more mileage and faster workouts each week? I am willing to bet it isn’t your aerobic system, but rather your body’s lack of resiliency toward increased mileage and harder, longer workouts.

If you seem to get injured every time you build mileage or try to maintain harder training for more than a week or two, I guarantee your aerobic system isn’t the problem. Rather, you’ve lost (or in some cases, never had) your athleticism, meaning your muscles, tendons, and ligaments aren’t as supple, flexible or as injury resistant as they once were. By developing general strength, you’ll improve your athleticism, be less injury prone and better able to handle a greater volume of training.

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