The first study comes from a 1997 study in which six female distance runners underwent a 10-week strength program with weight sessions three times a week. At the conclusion of the study, cardiovascular markers like VO2 max had not changed, but the experimental group’s running economy jumped by 4% while the control group showed no improvement. Reference – Johnston, R. E.; Quinn, T. J.; Kertzer, R.; Vroman, N. B., Strength Training in Female Distance Runners: Impact on Running Economy. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 1997, 11 (4), 224-229.
Next, a 1999 paper published by the Institute for Olympic Sports in Finland had ten endurance athletes train for nine weeks, replacing about 30% of their normal running training with explosive strength training. A control group of eight athletes did almost no ancillary training. At the conclusion of the study, the experimental group had dropped 3.1% off their 5k time and boosted their running economy by 8%. Reference - Paavolainen, L.; Häkkinen, K.; Hämäläinen, I.; Nummela, A.; Rusko, H., Explosive-strength training improves 5-km running time by improving running economy and muscle power. Journal of Applied Physiology 1999, 86, 1527-1533.
Seems plausible right? I know many of you feel like you don’t have time to resistance train, but that’s exactly where the problem with runners subsides. YOU MUST MAKE TIME. Why put yourself at risk for an injury? Why NOT get stronger, faster, leaner, and improve your efficiency while you’re at it? It’s easy to pass up resistance training since it’s not as easy as slipping on shoes and running out the door (literally). However, it CAN be that easy! Either by coming to see me and asking me what to do because I would gladly set you with a program to do at home for you busy parents! My main point for this is time MUST be made for resistance training if you want to perform at your maximum potential as a runner!
So, a few main issues I see with runners?
- Insufficient depth
- Rounded back
- Valgus (inward) knee
THE GOBLET SQUAT
• Hold a dumbbell in front of your chest lengthwise with your elbows pointing downward
• Sit in between your feet while keeping your chest up/out
• Squat ass-to-grass with your hip-crease below your knee-crease
• Finish with your elbows on the inside of your thighs
• Allow your torso to lean forward slightly to maintain balance over your mid-foot
• Do not allow your back to round forward – stay tight and strong in your core throughout the exercise
Over several weeks, progress to the heaviest dumbbell you can find. Not only is this challenging for the legs, but the core and spinal erectors get a great workout too. I recommend all runners be able to perform perfect heavy Goblet Squats before attempting barbell front or high-bar back squats.
STANDING HIP HINGE DRILL
• Stand with your feet 8-10” apart
• Place one hand on your low back and one on your stomach
• Slightly bend your knees
• Push your hips back, back, back while you bow forward – you should feel tension in your hamstrings as you reach 90 degrees at your hips
• Use your hands to feel if your back starts to round
• Stay long and tight in your core and keep your chest out
Learn and own this movement. Apply it to your training – a great exercise for runners is the Romanian Deadlift. Hold a loaded barbell with a double overhand grip in front of your thighs. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Keep the bar close to your legs and perform the hip hinge as described above. Once the bar passes your knees, return to the standing position. To build strength, perform sets of 5 or less with at least 2-minutes rest between sets.