What kinds of gym / strength training workouts should I do to support my running?
I wish there was a simple answer to this one, but there is not. This is just too complicated to be able to give you any answer at all, and you probably aren’t gonna like what I have to say here:
Get a strength coach to find out.
I know, I know, that’s the last thing you wanted me to say, and as much as a certain running publication might try to tell you that there are eight exercises that will support your running and keep you healthy, the reality is, that is just not the case.
But wait! Hear me out before you exit out of this page.
I know that finding a strength coach can be more of a financial investment than you are able or willing to spend, let alone how overwhelming it can be to find someone who will be good at it. It also potentially requires a gym membership and finding time to go to the gym.
I get it, and here is the thing, I struggle with finding the time for it too, or making the time for it. I am gonna be brutally honest here, and this could get me in trouble with the running community, but I will share anyway.
Before I do though, if you are someone who has been struggling with injuries, if you are a masters runner, or if you have a goal that is really really important to you, then there is no way around it. You do need a strength coach, someone who is going to show you how to do the exercises correctly and watch you to make sure your technique is correct. With strength training, your form is everything.
However, if you are like me right now and running is important to you, but you are willing to take the risk of injury over making time for strength training, you might be okay. But I want you to make sure you have weighed your options there. By not doing strength training correctly, you are at risk of injury. Okay with that? Doing exercises incorrectly may not injure you, but it probably won’t help you either. We don’t want to develop bad movement habits when our goal is to become better movers (runners).
If time is in short supply, doing a longer dynamic warmup is one way to focus on technique in a controlled manner. We are going to be putting out some videos very soon about what that could look like, but for the time being, here are some from maybe 2014. No laughing! It’s absolute amateur video quality, but it will help you with that technique side of things.
And then for those who are in the stage of needing someone – if you’ve had recent injuries, if you are a masters runner who knows you need it, or if you have that big goal, here are a few things that will help you find a strength coach.
Talking with other runners in your city can be helpful to find a qualified trainer. Additionally, searching for trainers close to where you live and contacting them for a conversation or a free consultation, if they offer that, may be helpful. Lastly, reach out to your chiropractor or physical therapist for a referral.
I also like to ask trainers their thoughts on “core” exercises. If they start to talk to you about sit ups or crunches, that is a HUGE red flag to stay away from them. Your core actually includes the full trunk of your body, multiple groups working together as one. A plank is an example of an exercise that brings all those muscles together, as are the other four primary exercises my coach, Drew Watts, recommended as a starting point: split squats, glute bridges, pushups, and rows.
While this answer is a little complicated, it really is best to start with adding to your warmup or to your post-run exercises. From there you can find a coach for a few sessions to find out where your weaknesses are or add in more strength training. Makd sure you are not increasing it during your peak running buildups.
If you have a question that you’d like answered, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll pass it along to Tina!
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