Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Can A Runner Be a Gym Rat? Of Course!

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.


Anonymous said...

Awesome post- I strength train 2x a week but have never done any of those workouts. I look forward to adding them to my routine!

Burt said...

Nice post. I really love going to the gym. Only do it a couple times a week, and use light weights. When you get my age, you try to hold on to all the muscle you can.

Unknown said...

I just wish the gym was as convenient and fun as running. I just love being outside all the time. Any ideas?

Hilary said...

I am convinced that strength training has helped me stay healthy as I train for the 2009 ING NYC marathon by strengthening my upper and lower muscles that don't get attention during my runs.

Meg, strength training doesn't have to require a huge time commitment or a gym membership.

Dumbbells are a great, less expense, at-home, way to ease into strength training.

RunnerDude said...

Hey onelittletrigirl! Thanks!Glad I gave you some new material to use.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Burt! I hear ya man. Not far behind you. I'm 44!

RunnerDude said...

Hey Meg! I agree with Hilary. A gym is great, but if one is not convenient to you, there are lots of things you can do at home. A dumbbell or two, an exercise ball, maybe some resistance bands and you'll be good to go. A lot of things can be done outside too. There's an outside "gym" along our greeway where you can do several good exercises and it's free!

RunnerDude said...

Hey Hilary! Great ideas!!!

Katana said...

I AM a gym rat. So ha! I'm also a runner, recovering from knee surgery. I try to run 3 miles at least 3 times a week, and I"m hoping that I can increase that to 5 times a week soon depending on how my knee feels. Half the reason why I am doing so well post-surgery is because of all the yoga and gym exercises that improved my stabilizer muscles.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Katana! Welcome to the blog! There's few of us runners in the gym and you're a great testiment to how your strength training and yoga have helped speed up your recovery. Kudos to you!! Hope your recovery continues to progress as speedily as it is now.

Zoë said...

I'm not a big gym person, but I love weight training with my hubby. He's my "coach" and when I'm finished with the weights I feel incredibly strong. Thanks for the extra workout ideas, dude!

RunnerDude said...

Hey Zoë! You're welcome! Here's another great link with some awesome exercises for runners.