The Importance of Strength for Runners
A couple weeks ago I was given the opportunity to take full control of the strength and conditioning for the women's track & field team here at Ohio University, more specifically the sprinters and jumpers. I have yet to work with a track team, so I am obviously thrilled for the experience. When I sat down to first start programming for them, I did my needs analysis and figured out what exactly they needed after observing them in the gym for several weeks prior.
It was obvious these women were strong, but we just needed to channel it a little differently. I wanted them to see getting strong as not only making them more explosive and powerful in their sprints and in their jumps, but to help reduce the likelihood of injuries. Injury prevention is SO crucial for athletes, but especially for runners. With daily practices comes constant pounding on the joints, so for me it was to look at how we can strength their bodies to withstand the constant stress. I know I know, this is kind of a no brainer for S&C coaches, but this is how I try to explain it to my athletes.
I think strength training for running-specific athletes is so important that I even wrote an ebook about it - you can check that out here ...
There are several things I like to focus on when wanting to build strength with these runners and those are unilateral (single leg) strength, core stability, and a strong posterior chain to compliment their anterior-dominance that comes with logging lots of miles. I recently wrote an article on STACK.com talking about the 5 essential exercises for runners which you can check out here.
Whether you are a track & field sprinter or just an avid runner, make sure you take the time to strengthen your body to compliment your training - I promise it will save you from lingering injuries and keep you healthy, happy, and fast.