Shanghai Running Magazine volume 1, Q1 2014 - Page 10

Shanghai Running, We Run Shanghai Training Why Runners Need Strength Training: By Victor Rowse "Victor is a fitness researcher and G eneral Manager of Prime (, a personal training studio located in the heart of the Former French Concession. Got a question for Victor? Write to him at" There are elite runners out there who have never lifted a weight in their entire lives. Runners of yesteryear in particular were not known for incorporating much strength training at all into their routines. So why bother? The primary reason is to do with injury prevention. As former medical editor of Runner‟s World, George Sheehan M.D. puts it, “One person in 100 is a motor genius," who doesn't have injuries. The rest of us need to strength train if we are to cope well with the particular demands and stresses of running as a sport. Two problems in particular stand out – firstly, unless you are sprinting, the natural running movement pattern will not take you into full hip extension (where your leg straightens fully to line up with your body). Over time, this can result in your glutes becoming underdeveloped in relation to the other major muscles in the lower body. The second major problem is that, as with other endurance sports like swimming and cycling, the joints are prone to overuse injury due to wear and tear. Put together, these problems make running a risky business. Studies have documented that 60% of runners are injured in an average year with one running injury occurring for every one hundred hours of performance. Strength training helps improve structural fitness – the ability of your ligaments, bones, tendons, and muscles to withstand the impact from running. Since strength training exercises such as squats, lunges, and deadlifts work the lower body muscles through a complete range of motion, they also help to address muscle imbalances – both between muscle groups, and between Even for „motor geniuses‟ who can get away with heavy mileages without developing muscle imbalances or weaknesses, strength training may be worthwhile due to the impact it has on the body‟s efficiency in using oxygen and energy. Whilst runners training with long distances will generally exhibit high VO2 max, or maximal oxygen intake, efficiency of oxygen usage is best developed by activities which force the body to work in an anaerobic en vironment such as sprinting or weight lifting. Reducing the amount of oxygen you need to maintain a certain speed means you will be able to sustain a faster pace for a longer period of time. A study that tested the effect of a lower body strength training program on elite runners found that they increased the amount of time they could run at their maximal aerobic speed by 21.3 percent. Kettlebell Lunges Wont strength training make you bulkier and therefore a slower runner? Unlikely. As any bodybuilder will tell you, one of the prerequisites of muscle building is putting the body into an anabolic state, which means giving the body plenty of rest and nutrition in order to grow after a weights session. Running places the body into a catabolic state, the opposite state of anabolism, which can degrade muscle and bone. In a review of the effect of maximal strength training in elite endurance athletes, researchers Aagaard and Andersen write that “concurrent training can diminish the muscle hypertrophy that normal occurs with strength training,” but increases in performance and strength are still observed. Strength training is not just for bodybuilders. It can help runners reduce bodyfat through boosting metabolism and insulin sensitivity, improve speed, greatly diminish the chances of suffering injury, and is also perfectly safe for runners who don‟t want to gain muscle mass. Weighted Squats Copyright Shanghai Running 2013. 10