How To Add Strength Training Without Wrecking Your Legs And Your Running

RB92: How To Add Strength Training Without Wrecking Your Legs And Your Running

how to add strength training to a running program

Strength training is an incredible tool to help you become a stronger, faster, and injury resistant runner. But when not done properly, strength training can also wreck your legs and impact your running workouts or races.

In this episode we take you inside our thoughts on the matter and share our tips to help you integrate strength training into your running program. We’ll show you why it is important, and how to add it to your program in a way it doesn’t overwhelm your body.

Benefits Of Adding Strength Training To Your Running Program

    • A strong muscle is an injury resistant muscle.
    • A strong muscle is a muscle that is slower to fatigue
    • A strong muscle promotes a potential to increase your speed when matched with solid training plan, nutrition, and execution.
    • Helps with metabolism and fat loss.
    • Can help build mental toughness and persistence

    What Type Of Strength Training Should We Focus On As Runners?

    As runners, we want to focus on a multi-faceted, integrative strength training program.  Often runners will build their exercise sets using more traditional body-building style exercises.  With our PaceBuilders clients, we stay away from bodybuilding, and focus on functional strength, mobility, flexibility, quickness, balance and stability. Body building is typically about increasing muscle size and that does not necessarily translate into the type of strength that runners need. Runner’s need strength that best matches the natural movement of the human body when running or doing other types of full-body exercises.  Body-building is typically focuses on muscle isolation.

    How Do We Add Strength Training To A Running Program

    First of all, there is not a one size, fits all approach to adding strength training to your running routine.  It depends on the individualization that makes up you, your goals, and where you are with your running and training. When we work with our coached athletes, before we add strength training, we try to gauge where they are at and before adding weights or complex movements, we start with creating a stabilization routine. We use a stabilization routine to get them used to strength training.

    Here is why.  In the beginning, most runners are new to strength training and need to ramp up slowly in order to minimize the chance of injury. In other words, we want to get people used to the increase load that weight training has on their body. If a runner has a history of consistent strength training, then we move on to more advanced power and strength routines.

    If you are new to strength training,  the best place to start is thinking core.  You would think that runners want to strengthen their legs (and that is true),  but runners need a strong core. Core strength involves all the major and minor muscles of your glutes, hips, back, abs, quads, and hamstrings.

    Beyond core, we also focus on calf muscles, and other muscles of the lower leg and feet.  This is where a lot of our stability and balance drills come into play. All runners should have a mix of core and stability/balance exercises in their routine.

    Once a runner gets used to our stabilization routine and stability/balance exercises get too easy, we start to incorporate either (a) added weight or (b) new variations of
    an exercise that makes the exercise more complex. For example, we may add weight to our squats and lunges or if we are doing single leg balance drills and
    they become too easy, we add things in to throw us off balance. Some techniques that work well are using BOSU balls, foam pads, closing your eyes, bending over and picking stuff up, or extending the opposite leg. If we master that, we may add additional weight or add hops, jumps, and jumps where you hop and stick the landing and hold that landing while maintaining balance.

    Here are a few products we recommend from Amazon that can help with balance and stability training:

    Bosu Stability Trainer

    TheraBand Stability Trainer Pad

    The biggest challenge we have found with runners is making time to do strength training or we find they are doing the wrong things.  While something is usually better than nothing, this lack of consistency, or doing the wrong thing often fails to achieve the results the runner has set out to achieve. Most of us are time restricted so we want to know what is the best use of our time.
    We can help with that, and provide specific exercises based on your situation, your areas of weakness, or just help you get started.

    Balancing strength training with running is also a challenge.  With strength training, we tend to scale it up and down based on a runner’s training cycle. For example, we do more in the off season, and less during the season, especially during periods of peak mileage or taper.  We DO like to see 1-2 days a week for most training weeks, with each workout day consisting of a full body workout.  If a runner we are working with is focused on weight loss or weight management vs. race performance, we usually will increase strength training to at least two days, and in some cases, three. It just depends on the runner and whether or not we are mixing up our workouts with other forms of training, specifically speed workouts or HIIT training. If so, we may keep the runner at two days per week.

    So, that is how we do it and what we would recommend for most recreational runners.  Factors like age, genetics, injury risk, level of fitness, overall health, ability to train, the level of goals they wish to obtain with their running and so on, all have a part in our decision and if you build your own strength training plan, you should take those into consideration as well.

    We go into a lot more depth inside the podcast episode,  so we hope you will check it out and subscribe on any of the popular podcasts directories.


    Thanks and Happy Running!

    Running Resources

    PaceBuilders™ Training System – A complete, end to end, custom training program for runners. Get unlimited ‘customized’ training plans with unlimited modifications that match your lifestyle and running goals. PLUS, get access to video training sessions and unlimited support so you can blast through your running goals.

    Customized Training Plans For Any Race Or Distance – 100% handwritten custom training plans written around your unique situation. Don’t settle for generic training plans found in books, magazines, or online. Our training plans take your history, your goals, your fitness profile and your lifestyle into consideration. Includes free access to Final Surge, where you can view and log your workouts anywhere you have access to a web browser, or use the mobile app.

    Runner’s Toolkit – Get access to 30 days of free coaching tips by email and get your #1 running question personally answered by me, just for signing up. Plus get free access to our private Facebook community where other RunBuzz community members gather for support, camaraderie and general shenanigans.

    Find out how you can support RunBuzz’s mission to bring quality running content (educational, inspirational, etc) to the running community. Help us support our mission to make every runner regardless of age, size and ability a better runner. Each episode requires over 8 hours, or research, recording and editing.

    Join our Virtual Running Club on Strava – Download the Strava app and join our RunBuzz Running Team to participate in virtual runs, monthly challenges and track your progress. Our virtual running club help keep you accountable and running!

    Join The Community: Subscribe and Review!

    If you’d like to get RunBuzz delivered automatically to your smartphone or podcast player at no charge to you, please subscribe using your preferred method below:

    subscribe on itunes - Runbuzz Radio Running Podcast stitcher

    If you’d like the direct RSS feed for your own favorite RSS Podcast Player, click here to get it!

    If you get a chance, please leave me an honest review and rating on iTunes by clicking here. (This helps me get the show up in the rankings and I’d deeply appreciate it. 🙂 )


    I Appreciate Your iTunes Reviews!

    Getting a 5 star rating and/or written review is incredibly important for this show. It helps with ranking and with generating the necessary exposure that gets this podcast out in front of other runners.

    But it is even more important to me!

    I read each and every comment and really take them all to heart. They provide encouragement that what I am doing is getting noticed and that the show is getting listened to.

    I am so thankful to those who have recently gone into iTunes to provide a five star rating and written a review of the RunBuzz Running Podcast.

    If you can and would like to provide a rating and/or write a review (there’s certainly no obligation), then you can do so by following these instructions:

    1) Go to the show’s iTunes Page or search “RunBuzz” from iTunes if you aren’t already a subscriber.

    2) Open the page in the iTunes app, and click on the number of stars for the rating you think I deserve.

    3) Write a sentence or two to share your comments.

    Thank you SO Much!

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Steve is the founder and head running coach of Steve is host of the RunBuzz podcast and founder of PaceBuilders, a complete online training program for runners. Steve is a RRCA / USA Track and Field Certified Running Coach and resides in Lewis Center, Ohio.