Naturally, strength training a runner’s legs is the best way to maximize this resiliency. But that is not all it does. Most of the motions necessary for strength training are different from the motions that the legs are put through while on a run. Once the muscles become accustomed to this new style and range of motion they are more adaptable and are less likely to react poorly when a footfall goes wrong or the runner’s gait slips off-rhythm.
It’s a winning combination that helps keep runners on their feet. Strength training also boosts a runner’s “economy”, which is the way their muscles use oxygen to increase speed and the distance they can cover. One study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that runners who went from no strength training to a three-day-a-week routine saw an increased endurance without any marked increase in body mass.
The body mass impact might seem unimportant but many runners avoid the weight room because of a long-standing myth that strength training bulks a person up and slows them down. But it is just that: a myth. It should not keep anyone from the weight room.
WHEN TO STRENGT TRAIN THE LEGS
Jason Fitzgerald, the running coach mentioned earlier, has some very specific suggestions on when runners should work strength training their legs into their schedule. He suggests that runners spend ten to twenty minutes after every run on exercises that specifically target the muscles used in running. Squats, jumps, and lunges are a few good options though there are other options listed further down in this article.