Looking forward to enjoying some sweet summer miles? Here’s the secret sauce to make it happen — and get ready for fall races: functional strength training.
Why Functional Strength Training?
Functional strength training targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously, mirroring real-world movements and, crucially, your running. Here’s why it matters:
- Boost Running Efficiency: According to a 2013 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study, runners incorporating strength training improved their running economy by 4-6%. That means the same pace and less energy.
- Improve Form and Posture: Functional strength training helps maintain an efficient running form and good posture, even when fatigue sets in during those grueling final miles.
- Reduce Injury Risk: A stronger body is more resilient and less prone to common running injuries, like runner’s knee, Achilles Tendinitis, IT Band Syndrome, and Plantar Fasciitis.
How to Get Started with Functional Strength Training
It doesn’t take hours to build strength — especially when you keep it functional. Begin with two 20-30 minute sessions per week, focusing on exercises that engage multiple muscle groups:
- Areas of Focus: Target areas that are trouble for runners, like the glutes, core, and balance
- Runner-Specific Training: Pick exercises that mimic the running motion for the best results!
And don’t worry; you don’t need to be a bodybuilder. A 2018 Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports study found that runners who performed strength exercises twice a week significantly improved their 5k times over eight weeks.
Progress Gradually and Consistently
It’s essential to progress gradually, especially if you’re new to strength training. Start slow, increase the intensity and volume of your workouts over time, and allow sufficient recovery time between sessions.
It’s normal to get sore as your body uses otherwise neglected muscles.
Embracing functional strength training this June will set the stage for a powerful, injury-free summer of running and prime you for success in your fall races.
Want help getting started? Try one RunSmart’s Physical Therapist-designed strength programs. Every program is designed to make you a stronger, more efficient runner.
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