Strength training is a crucial part of running, but is often overlooked. There are many, many reasons that strength training is important! I thought it would be helpful and informative to list some of the reasons that you should be incorporating strength training into your life.
As a runner, I make it a priority to strength train 4-5 days per week. I strength train at my house, as I’ve turned one our spare rooms into my gym. You can strength train with very little equipment, and quite inexpensively. Below are things I have at my house that I use weekly.
Stability Ball- I use this for core work, as well as lower body. I got this at Target several years ago for around $20.
Ab Roller- This is tough! I also got this at Target for around $12.
Foam Roller- This is a necessity for marathon training! I purchased this at either Target or Wal-Mart, and it was around $10.
Yoga Mat- Not only do I use this for yoga, but I use it for core workouts, as well as some lower body work. I have had this since college and believe it was around $30.
Free Weights- I purchased these at Target I think. Most weights cost about $1 per pound, so keep that in mind when purchasing them so you do not overpay.
Elastic/Rubber Bands (Also called resistance bands)- I got these at Wal-Mart for $4! I love these, and primarily use them for IT Band work. You can also use them for strength training.
Okay.. lets get to the reasons why you need to strength train!
1. It is good for your bones! As you lift weights and place more pressure on your bones, you are actually building and increasing your bone density. Strength training now can help you in the future as you age and osteoporosis sets in.
2. It makes you a faster runner! When you are lifting weights you are increasing your oxygen uptake (VO2 Max). VO2 Max is the maximum rate of oxygen consumption. As you increase your fitness level, your VO2 max gets higher. This relates directly to running, because when you have a higher VO2 max you will be able to run at faster speeds for a longer period of time.
3. It prevents injury! I can personally vouch for this one! Running alone will not make you a better runner. Strength training adds a lot of benefit to any training plan. When you are strength training you are strengthening your muscles, ligaments, and tendons- which can help stabilize your lower body as you run. Having a strong lower body will also improve your gait as you run, and can help to absorb shock more evenly.
4. It burns a lot of calories! A lot of people do not realize how many calories are burned during strength training. This of course depends on the duration and intensity of your training session. You continue to burn calories well after you have stopped lifting for the day. As your muscles work to repair themselves they are expending calories. That is a great perk 🙂
5. It is good for your mental health! One of my favorite movies is “Legally Blonde”, and with that being said one of my favorite quotes from that movie is “Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands!” Okay, well the last sentence does not exactly apply, but you get the point. In general, people who exercise have a happier state of mind versus those who do not exercise.
6. It will make you look great! Let’s be real- who doesn’t want to look good? Strength training will give your body good definition, and hopefully allow you to feel comfortable in your own body.