Should runners do strength training or should they just run more? What one is going to give the greatest gain in performance and injury prevention? Strength training for runners has always been a bit controversial as some coaches argue that it not worth it and the runner is better of using the time to run more miles.
The evidence and anecdotal experience is, yes, endurance runners will benefit from a strength training program in addition to racking up the miles on the road. This has been shown to improve performance and may also help prevent overuse injury. This may be even more important for older runners who muscles strength declines quite rapidly after the age of 50 years.
What exercises should runners do?
There is plenty of detail and advice available elsewhere as to what exercises runners should do, but they should primarily focus on:
- the calf muscles with calf raises
- the quadriceps with leg extensions, squats and lunges
- the hip abductors with an elastic band around the ankles
- the core with planks
These would be the main ones. There is no harm in including upper body and arm exercise in to develop an all round fitness, but increased strength there is probably not going to be related to increased running performance or injury prevention.