7 Myths About Strength Training for Runners
By Will Lind
Image © ruigsantos / Dollar Photo Club
There are so many objections to strength training for runners. Most of the time they are due to misinformation or are hidden excuses. If you’ve been putting off or ignoring incorporating some degree of strength work into your training, it’s time to change because the benefits are established and they are numerous. Strength training for runners is here to stay. Here we look at a few of the common concerns about strength training and assert some contrary opinions.
Seven Myths About Strength Training for Runners
- It makes you big and bulky:
You can strengthen your body without getting big. If running is your main target, supplementary strength training is unlikely to add much size to your body, if any at all. If anything, strength training will improve your metabolic conditioning, going towards burning visceral fat and adding lean muscle, therefore improving your body fat composition.
- You need equipment and gear:
Equipment and gear can enhance your training but is not necessary. Saying otherwise is an excuse, not a reason. In fact, for most runners body weight exercises provide more than enough resistance to meet your strength training needs and there are virtually no limits to what you can do with your body alone, if you have the mind to go that far.
- It will slow me down:
Wrong again. Inappropriate focus on strength training for runners will slow you down. Or, if you cycle your program you will experience phases where you run slower, but that is part of the plan, where you sacrifice some speed now to focus on strength so that you are capable of greater speed later on. If you integrate strength training with the right focus and volume you will not only run faster, but you will do it easier too.
- Gym Stuff is for Meatheads:
Yes, it is. But it’s not just for meatheads, and meatheads think running is for weak people. You’re both wrong. Both worlds are good for both types of athlete and the ones who have a foot in each world are the real winners.
- It’s Dangerous:
Did you know running has one of the highest incidents of injury with anywhere up to 70% of runners getting injured in a 12 month period? Guess what, running could be considered dangerous. Strength training is as safe as your instruction and intelligent progress makes it. Act silly, don’t treat movements with respect and fail to seek proper instruction, and you might well end up injured, sometimes badly. But you can also opt for some safe movements that have a very low risk of injury, less so than running even.
- If I’m not running, I’m not getting better at running:
Sort of true. Strength training makes you stronger. If you don’t then transition that strength into running, you won’t be a better runner. But strength training for runners is efficient and safe (if done correctly) so you can develop in a few months what it might takes years of running to do.
- It will leave me sore and aching so I can’t run properly:
This is also sort of true. If you train hard in a strength workout it is likely to leave you feeling sore. This is especially true for beginners when your body is shocked in a big way by the new movements and exertion. This is sometimes unavoidable, but it is unnecessary. Moderate, tolerable soreness is all you ever have to experience. No doubts you will go beyond this as you seek to push your limits, which is understandable, but no, the crippling pain isn’t essential, or ever needed at all really.
 Sports Medicine Australia; http://sma.org.au/resources-advice/sports-fact-sheets/running/, accessed 22 July 2014.