If you want to be a better runner start running, a better swim start swimming. However one of the biggest set backs for any beginner or elite runner is picking up a frustrating overuse injury caused by too much running. Sports Medicine Australia shows that 70% of recreational and competitive runners experience injuries in a 12-month period.  

Resistance training is not only a fantastic way to decrease your risk of overuse injuries but can be one of the greatest performance enhancer for any endurance athlete whether you are just starting out or a seasoned veteran. 

The men’s marathon world record has fallen six times since 2003, the women’s world record has remained unbeaten during this same period of time. The woman behind this miraculous feat is British athlete Paula Radcliffe and she holds the 3 fastest all time marathon records. Although Paula was identified as a good athlete at a young age, she didn’t really reach her peak performance until she was into her thirties. Like most endurance athletes she always had a good VO2max (a measure of fitness) but no more exceptional than anyone other long distance runner and a very ordinary, some may even say ugly running technique. So what was her secret to this sudden increase in performance?  

She incorporated resistance training into her training program, this increased her vertical jump (a measure of power) from 11 inches to 14 inches and at the same time reduced her sit and reach (a measure of flexibility) by 1.6 inches and most importantly increased her performance by 15% from 1992 to 2003. This is because resistance training is extremely effective in improving one’s running economy and ability to withstand fatigue. 

Here are my top 3 tips when it comes to using resistance training:

  1. Replicate the running motion as close as possible. You want to recreate similar movements to running; lunges are the perfect running exercise. Don’t forget to lunge in all 3 planes to guarantee well-rounded leg muscles and function. 
  1. You don’t need heavy weight (but it doesn’t hurt). You want to increase your ability to withstand fatigue the higher the volume the more fatigue you can create. However there is some proof suggest low repetition, high weight training can offer very similar benefits as it is more of a neurological adaptation not just muscular. 
  1. Aim for 2 sessions a week, as a guide two resistance training session will help to supplement your training. However it is still important to remember to be a better runner you must run at least once a week.  

The key to running preparation is all about training smarter not harder and doing less is often better than doing more.