Strength Training For Runners

July 31st, 2018

I’ve been an active runner for a long time.  I ran in high school and college and now I run for stress relief (which it is great for!). Here’s the problem though. We all struggle with finding enough time in the day to do the things we like. Runners like running…and truthfully, not much else.  Many of the runners I see at Motion Works express their concern that they would like to avoid injuries and also improve their performance. My answer is straightforward:

Start including strength training.

To many runners, the idea of adding strength training is foreign and many just avoid it. They think that it will slow them down, but I assure them that nothing can slow them down as much as an injury can.

Strength training can improve the muscles ability to accept load. The lower the tolerance to load, the higher the risk of injury. By improving this load tolerance, you will decrease your risk of injury. In addition, research has shown that strength training is also beneficial for your running economy, in that your muscles will use less oxygen at the same pace.

While every runner is different and there is no real ‘one size fits all’ approach, most runners are typically weak in the glutes. To pinpoint where your personal weaknesses may lie, you can talk to us here at Motion Works Physical Therapy, or if you are not in the Walpole area, to a PT in your hometown.

A very basic exercise program to increase a runner’s strength is the following:

Frequency 2-3x week

Goblet Squats – Hold a weight at your chest.  Bend your knees and sit you hips backward. Do not allow your knees to go in front of your toes, fall inwards towards one another, or outwards away from one another. Repeat 


Single Leg Deadlifts – Stand on one leg with your knee slightly bent. Hold a small weight in your opposite hand. Bend forward at your waist, reaching toward the floor with the weight. Return to upright.  Repeat.


Lateral walking – Wrap a resistance band around your ankles. Walk in a straight line to the side approximately 20-25 feet, keeping your knees relatively straight. Do not lean to the side with your trunk as you walk. Walk both to the right and left.


Single Leg Glute bridge – Lie on your back with one knee bent and the other leg straight off the floor.  Raise your hips off the floor, keeping your pelvis level.  Repeat.


Single Leg Calf raises – Stand on one leg, holding onto something sturdy for balance. Raise your heel off the ground and then slowly lower yourself back down.  Repeat.


And remember as you train, runners should increase their total running amount by NO MORE than 10% per week. Be sure to get a good, quality pair of running sneakers and change them every 300 to 400 miles.

You may need exercises more specific for you. We here at Motion Works Physical Therapy are available to help you and create a program specific to your unique needs. Visit our website or call 508-660-1110 to make an appointment.

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