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The Sport Information Resource Centre

For many of us who enjoy distance running, we know that in order to improve, you have to get out and run. You have to get in your two or three workouts a week and add a long run for good measure. Though there is no substitution for running, you can supplement your training by incorporating resistance training. Resistance training will not improve your VO2 max or running economy but it will help improve other facets of your running, including your efficiency, ability to maintain proper form and minimizing muscle imbalances.

Being a distance runner, you want to be lean but you also want to be strong when finishing a race or when attacking a hill during a race. This means you want to target muscles that are related to running.

Here are a few resistance training routines you might want to incorporate to supplement your running:

    • Plyometric – Hopping, jumping and bounding. While doing these exercises you should use a soft surface, preferably done before your workout while using proper technique and having minimal ground contact.
      • Lower Body Resistance Training – Squats, calf raises and lunges exercises can be done before or after workouts, but allow ample time between resistance training and running workouts. These exercises work on your hamstrings, calves, gluteus, quadriceps and inner and outer thigh, which minimize imbalances making a difference in preventing injury.
        • Hill Training – Unlike other resistance training routines, hills can help running economy. Use a hill with a gradual incline as opposed to a steep incline. A gradual incline helps maintain proper running form while building strength, speed and endurance. Hills can be done before or after the workout, or constitute the entire workout. 

          Resistance training can also help improve running form by strengthening your core and preventing injuries when done properly. Strengthening your core will help in the latter parts of your race as you fatigue allowing you to maintain proper running form. Since running is such a repetitive sport, it can create muscle imbalances, which can lead to injuries and interrupted training. 

          When embarking on resistance training, you should ideally incorporate it before or after your workout on your hard days of training. The idea is to make your hard days hard and your easy days easy to allow you to recover properly.

          References from the SIRC Collection:

          1. Anderson O. Core curriculum. Runner’s World. August 1997;32(8):38. 
          2. Burgess T, Lambert M. The effects of training, muscle damage and fatigue on running economy. International Sportmed Journal. December 2010;11(4):363-379. 
          3. Debnam M. Plyometrics: Training for Power. Modern Athlete & Coach. October 2007;45(4):5-7.

          4. Jones P, Bampouras T. Resistance Training for Distance Running: A Brief Update. Strength & Conditioning Journal (Allen Press). February 2007;29(1):28-35. 
          5. Jung A. The impact of resistance training on distance running performance. / L ‘ impact de l ‘ entrainement de resistance sur la performance en course de fond. Sports Medicine. 2003;33(7):539-552. 
          6. Mikkola J, Vesterinen V, Taipale R, Capostagno B, Häkkinen K, Nummela A. Effect of resistance training regimens on treadmill running and neuromuscular performance in recreational endurance runners. Journal Of Sports Sciences. October 15, 2011;29(13):1359-1371.
          7. Tanaka H, Swensen T. Impact of resistance training on endurance performance: a new form of cross-training?. Sports Medicine. March 1998;25(3):191-200.


          The information presented in SIRC blogs and SIRCuit articles is accurate and reliable as of the date of publication. Developments that occur after the date of publication may impact the current accuracy of the information presented in a previously published blog or article.