October 20, 2020

Should Runners Do Strength Training?

Should runners do strength training? In this article, we answer that question and share five bodyweight exercises you can do to get started.

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In my last article, I argued that triathletes don’t need to set aside additional time to do specific strength training sessions. They’re already struggling to fit swimming, cycling and running training around their busy work, family and social schedule, so a dedicated strength session is not the best use of time.

That’s not the same for runners.

Runners have only one primary sport that demands their time. I believe that neglecting dedicated and specific strength training can be a recipe for injury, inconsistent training and poor performance.

Besides inadequate training practises, the primary reasons a runner gets injured is due to structural and biomechanical imbalances.

Structural imbalances are things like having one leg longer than the other. Muscular imbalances (tight muscles working against weak muscles) usually cause biomechanical imbalances; however, structural problems, such as leg length discrepancies as mentioned above, can sometimes be the cause.

Dedicated strength training helps to correct biomechanical imbalances and support structural imbalance. Besides helping to keep you injury-free, strong muscles are more resistant to fatigue and will help to delay the rate at which you slow down.

If you’ve ever suffered an injury in the past, odds are the physio you worked with prescribed some form of strengthening exercises to help fix your problem. Rather than doing these types of exercises as a form of rehab(ilitation), why not be proactive and integrate them into your training programme as prehab?

Cut Race Times, Not Corners.

Racing at your potential and enjoying training is easy when you’re following the right programme.

Start With Bodyweight Exercises

Bodyweight exercises are a great place to start if you’re new to strength training. I recommend you start with a 20 – 30-minute session at a two to one ratio of your running frequency. What that means is if you run twice a week, you’d do one strength training session. If you do four runs a week, you will do two strength training sessions.

To get you started, here are some simple exercises you can do, demonstrated by Coach Jim.


Forward Lunges

Hip Thrusters

Calf Raises

Air Squats

Nail Your Form, Then Add Resistance

Performing strength training with proper form is essential to your success. Before you add resistance into your routine, first become competent at performing your exercises correctly.

When your form is solid, you’ll need to add resistance into your training to continue your progression and to reap the benefits. You can add resistance in several ways, the most common being bands or free weights.

As you can see, you don’t need a gym membership to become a stronger and more resilient athlete; just a desire to do the work and continually iterate on your form.

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Ben Pulham

Ben Pulham is the founder of Coached, a personalised training programme that helps runners & triathletes optimise, track and enjoy their training.