Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

How And Why Should I Incorporate Strength Training Into My Training As A Runner?

March 20, 2024

Our Boulder Physical Therapy and Lafayette Physical Therapy clinics have written numerous blogs illustrating the benefits of strength training for runners. Previous authors have shown that strength training is effective for improving running economy and rate of force development which can help you reach your distance, pace, or performance goals. As the race season begins, you may be wondering if you should change your strength training routine.

During the off season it is recommended that athletes should perform lifting 3 days a week, transition to 2 days per week in the pre-season, and finally 1-2 days per week while in season or on taper. Lifting exercises should consist of multi-joint, compound exercise movements such as deadlifts, squats, bench press and lat pulldowns to optimize performance benefits and minimize time required for strength training sessions.

A consistent strength routine is paramount to performance and injury prevention, but what about strength training immediately prior to a race? Mason and colleagues published a review of the available literature on the benefits of acute bouts of exercise in the 12 hours preceding athletic competition (Sports Medicine. 2020). They included 29 studies detailing the impact of strength training, as well as, short and middle distance cardiovascular training on athletic performance.

The authors reported improved performance after strength training sessions prior to competition. They reported that heavy load (75-85% of 1 repetition maximum), low volume (3 sets x 4-10 repetitions) training increased subsequent performance after a 4-6 hour recovery period. Less benefits were found with either longer or shorter recovery periods. Additionally, authors found benefits of maximal intensity, short duration sprints or high intensity interval training (HIIT) to have benefit on same day running performance. Importantly, 4-6 hours of rest and recovery were equally important to performance of future aerobic events.

Every athlete has individual needs on race day and the days preceding a race. Strength training prior to a race may not be for everyone, but could be worth trying if you are looking for a boost in performance.

Click Here to learn more about which strength training exercises are best for your goals