Runner's Strength Workout: How to Become a Better Runner in 30 Days Series

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#19 Runner’s Strength Workout


Keep it simple, inserting strength training into your running routine or route.


I have a lot of thoughts about strength training for runners, most likely because I have gathered many other coaches’ perspectives throughout the years. Then there is my own experiences that weigh into the topic. I haven’t written extensively about strength training for runners because there really are so many ways to become stronger. However, in this blog post, I will give you my today answer.

A new training friend asked me this morning what I do for strengthening as a runner. My reply was individualized for my body and offered a few ideas geared more for her body type.

How I Approach

Strength Training

For many years I effectively used Pilates as my main source of strength training. With Nordic skiing this winter season, I have leaned on the strength and balance training that comes with the sport instead of Pilates. However, just Pilates or skiing is not enough training. I use very simple body weight or simple med ball exercises to tone and power up my muscles. I add in these movements to my post-run routine. When the weather is nice, I have been caught by my neighbor jump roping, lunging, and throwing a medicine ball onto the driveway or garage wall. On winter wonderland days, I use the tough mat inside my front door to do squats, lunges and jumping before I take off my running shoes. When I stretch, I throw in some push-ups and planks. These strengthening exercises fit within my running routines and take little time.

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A suggestion for my friend who feels that she doesn’t gain muscle well was to use terrain to improve her running strength. Several (4-8) short steep hills repeats about 10 seconds long and with several minutes rest between can build her leg power. Adding rolling hill terrain to a regular run can really bolster strength endurance, working the uphills and relaxing the body on the downhills.

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I have had success in performing a simply designed ten minute or less plyometric workout (think jumping movements) twice a week. The key is to stop or rest just before fatigue sets in. It is more important to have quality form versus quantity of reps. Also, I find plyometrics to be more appropriate for intermediate to advanced runners and those under age 40.

Most of all notice opportunities to strengthen your body throughout the day. You don’t need to sweat to gain strength.

  • Push Ups every time you stretch

  • 10 squats before bed

  • Lunges in the parking lot on your way to your car (or in your house hallway, if you are afraid of people knowing you have strong muscles)

  • Heel Rises on your front step before going in your front door

  • 10 Quick High jumps to reach the wall above your front door (inside)

  • Stairs every possible chance (flex the glute as you step up)

  • Pull up bar mounted in a doorway (guests think this is so fun)

  • 20 Kettleball swings after work

  • Trail running once a week

  • Cross-training once/twice a week

  • Yard Work often

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TOO MUCH TOO SOON - first time, 1/2 what you think you can do; second time, 3/4 what you think you can do; third time, full workout

RECORDS - 100 lunges may sound awesome until you pull your hamstring running the next day and are injured for a year (learned from a painful past experience)

1 HOUR Training Sessions - Unless you are a weight lifter or a professional athlete, you don’t need more than 20 quality minutes of strength training in one session

HURT YOURSELF WITH BAD FORM - Get expert advice when lifting free weights, seriously!

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Want to be a stronger runner? Start with keeping it simple and insert strengthening movements into your normal day.

Read a previous post - Quick Strength For Runners Book Review

This 30-day series is a quest for me as a writer, coach, and runner. I promise to write about running for 30 days in a row. In doing so I intend to gain in knowledge and expression of running and daily life. My hope is that we all grow together.

Shelly Binsfeld

Running Coach in Minnesota

Optimize your Hard Work in an Intelligent Way