Ask a runner if he/she adds strength training to his/her routine and chances are the answer will be, "No." Runners avoid the gym for a variety of reasons. Many don't want the added weight that bulky muscles may bring slowing them down. Some feel their legs already get a workout and their upper body isn't really needed for running. Others feel that gym-time would eat away at their running-time.
Let me clarify a few misunderstandings:
1. Working out doesn't mean you'll become the next "Arnold" unless that's what you want. Some added muscle can actually help you become a more efficient runner.
2. A strong core is equally important if not more important than strong legs. A strong core provides good posture as well as a solid base for the rest of your body to do its job properly. When you run, the power your legs receive originates in your core and moves down to your legs. A weak core mean less power to the legs. [Click here] for a good core workout from RunnerDude.
3. Strength training for runners is just as much about injury prevention as it is about becoming stronger.
4. You don't need to spend hours in the gym to benefit from some strength training. Much of it can even be done at home!
Runners that only run have a much higher risk of injury over time than runners that add strength training to their regimen. The added strength training, however, needs to be functional not just traditional machine-based training. Think about it. Sitting on a leg press or a leg extension machine will strengthen your leg muscles, but do you really make just those movements when you run? What about all the stabilizer muscles? What about balance? What about speed? Agility? A leg press will only do so much. Functional training simply put is doing exercises that closely mimic the movements of your sport—in this case, running.
Below are several video clips that provide some examples of functional training exercises for runners. These are just a few of the many functional exercises available for runners. Check with your gym or local running store for recommendations of personal trainers who specialize in functional training for runners.
Check out this clip from Active.com for some great core exercises to strengthen your trunk.
For exercises to improve efficiency and speed, check out the clip below from Bosufitness.com.
Check out this clip from Running Research News for some tips on lower-body exercises for runners.
For an awesome exercise called Runners Row, check out this clip from nikewomen.com.