Most runners believe that in order to be better-performing and faster-running machines, they simply need to run more and hone their craft by following a well-designed running program. But, that's only half true.
The other piece of the puzzle comes from a structured resistance-training program. Even if a runner wants to improve their running time at the middle or long distances, strength training is a must to improve.
How does strength training help?
The main reason is to improve our running economy
Running economy basically means that you are more efficient and able to undertake the same distance in less time and with less energy.
There are heaps of studies showing improvements in running economy and that even in trained distance runners that running economy can improve by up to 8% following a period of resistance training. So for a serious runner who undertakes marathons, 8% off of a 4 hour marathon is 20 minutes, so a pretty good improvement - even shaving 10 minutes off a marathon would make most runners pretty happy!
There is a second train of thought that strength training also decreases our injury risk. However there are inconsistent findings in the literature on associations between lower body strength and running injury occurrence.
So the main reason to strength train is to improve our running economy.
What does a typical program that a runner should undertake look like?
What are some examples of exercises people can do at home?
An example gym program for runners might include exercises like:
Power work is also beneficial to improving running economy:
Check out a few strength training exercises here:
Accredited Exercise Physiologist