Strength Training : How it Benefits your Runs 

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“Strength training bulks me up and slows me down”, a common myth that is far from being true. In fact, packing on lean muscles may just be the answer for those who seek to enhance their mile pace or stretch that final burst towards the finishing line. Also, because muscles are metabolically active,they ensure the continual torching of excess fats even at rest, ensuring that every stride does not get impinged by excess weight. Various research and studies have backed the notion of supplementing strength training into a runner’s regime. Some of the notable ones include a study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine (1), carried out a comparison between 4 groups, where the first group focused solely on running routines, another solely on circuit based strength training, the third mixed running and strength training routines as one, and the last, a control group. The results, after 12 weeks of training, revealed that the group which combined strength and endurance training managed to improve, on an average, a 8.6% in a 4 Km time trial. They also had an average VO2 max increment of 10.4% and ran to exhaustion 13.7% longer than the rest of the other groups.

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Another study from ACSM (2) placed seasoned runners into 2 categories, one continued with their usual running regimes while the other, well you guessed it, added strength training exercises in the form of bodyweight squats, 3 times per week over a span of 8 weeks. Even though their bodyweight remained the same, the group that executed strength training saw an improvement of time to exhaustion at their maximal aerobic speed by a whopping 21.3%! There is a myriad of benefits brought forth by combining a comprehensive strength training regime with your runs, we will discuss some of them in this article.

Clock Faster Runs

The key to clocking faster runs lie in how efficiently the associated muscles are able to utilise oxygen over an extended period of time. This can be measured quantitatively by a formula known as VO2 max or maximal oxygen uptake. In general, by lowering the oxygen requirement during the endurance activity, runners can find themselves sustaining their pace with less effort, which ultimately attributes to faster overall run times. This transcended level of fitness also translates to runners being able to cover more ground with the same amount of effort.

Torch those body fats

The basal metabolic rate (BMR), also known as the metabolic rate at rest, elevates along with the increase in the body’s lean muscle mass composition. This is because, muscles are more energy reliant, as such, they will continue to draw calories from the body, hours after intense bouts of resistance-based training. With the decrease in overall body fat, runners can find themselves striding lighter, further and faster.

Injury Prevention

A stronger body is better suited to cope with the demands of endurance regimes such as running. Resistance training has the capability of strengthening the body, and with transcended resilience,the chances of picking up injuries will be slimmer. Even pre-existing conditions can be improved,thereby helping individuals run with lesser discomfort. Core strength provides runners with added stability and encourage good running posture- all key aspects that are crucial in mitigating injuries. Core strengthening can be aptly addressed by strength training and these regimes consist of no more than merely body weight based workouts.How much Strength training is adequate? There is no hard and fast rule as to how many sessions or how long each strength training session should last. But for runners who are new to such regimes, progressive training is key. Begin with one or two sessions of 15 to 20 minutes on top of your runs, and gradually extend this to an arrangement that will fit nicely to your schedules. However, it is important not to overtrain as this will reap more adverse effects than it will do you good. Always remember to assess your current condition before the start of any fitness regime, if unsure, seeking medical advise would be highly recommended.

Building lean muscles helps garner a faster pace, increase metabolic rates and build resilience against running related injuries. 

Alvin  
Managing Director, FITtener.com

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References :

(1) Chtara, M., Chamari, K., Chaouachi, M., Chaouachi, A., Koubaa, D., Feki, Y., … Amri, M.(2005). Effects of intra-session concurrent endurance and strength training sequence onaerobic performance and capacity. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 39(8), 555–560.http://doi.org/10.1136/bjsm.2004.015248

(2) StLren, O., Helgerud, J., Stoa, EM,. Hoff, J. (2008). Maximal strength training improvesrunning economy in distance runners. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 40(6), 1087–1092.http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/2008/06000/Maximal_Strength_Training_Improves_Running_Economy.14.aspx

Bibliography :

P. (Ed.). (2012, January 31). Ten reasons why runners should include weight training. Retrieved from http://main.poliquingroup.com/articlesmultimedia/articles/article/806/ten_reasons_why_runners_should_include_weight_trai.aspx

Kevin, B. (n.d.). How Strength Training Helps Your Run. Retrieved from http://www.active.com/running/articles/how-strength- training-helps- your-run

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