Strength training may be a runner’s secret to success

Apr 12, 2018 | News

Michaela Davies may not be your typical runner, since her idea of a challenge is an Ultra Marathon – that’s 50 kilometres straight up a mountain – but the St. Paul’s Foundation Digital Communications Specialist says just like any distance, the secret is in the training. Her regime consists of early morning trail runs, and spin classes or bootcamp to help build endurance. She also tries to incorporate strength training whenever she can, “I know that the more muscle strength I’m able to build, the faster I tend to be on hills when I really need that burst of energy.”

The physiotherapy team at St. Paul’s Hospital says that’s exactly why all runners should add in strength sessions. “Some of the latest research indicates a strengthening program for runners can help increase core strength, increase speed, reduce injury rates, and correct muscle imbalances,” says Sandra Squire, Research, Education and Practice Coordinator.

With trail running, Michaela says she focuses on squats and box jumps because they help build the power she needs for the hill climbs. She also takes time for ankle strengthening to help her feel more stable on the rocky terrain. But she laughingly admits she could always do more, “I tend to neglect strength training in favour of long distance runs that build my mental confidence that I can survive a long distance race, and keep me going regardless of everything within my body screaming at me to give up and go grab a burrito.”

How to get started with strength training:

  • Before you schedule all your runs for the week, consider adding or exchanging a session to focus on strength.
  • Start gradually and monitor how your body responds to the load. Adjust accordingly.
  • As you progress, you can increase the load and/or the frequency of the exercises.
  • If you run into any troubles, see your local physiotherapist for an individualized assessment. Physiotherapists are great ad prescribing specific exercise programs to meet your needs.

Here are some easy exercises that can be done at home:

  • Bodyweight squats
  • Push-ups
  • Walking lunges
  • Side plank (both sides)
  • Bridging

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