Why You Should Strength Train in the Off-Season

As fall race season comes to a close and 2019 is on the horizon, it’s time to think about the off-season planning.  As you begin to lay out your 2019 race calendar, take note of when your next training plan starts and the downtime you may have from the last race. Like many runners, the second one race ends, we’re thinking about the next one. But what about strength training? Where does that fit in to your 2019 plan?

I can’t begin to count the number of reasons we’ve heard about why runners don’t strength train. From “I don’t know where to start” to “with all the running I don’t have enough time,” we’ve heard them all. But what if we told you that a strength training program could lead to an improved running economy?

Running economy is simply the amount of energy required to maintain a certain speed for a period of time, and is influenced by numerous training strategies, including high and low resistance training, plyometrics, and explosive training. A systemic review was conducted to determine the effect of strength training programs on running economy of high-level middle and long distance runners. Five studies met the authors’ inclusion criteria, resulting in a mix of 93 competitive runners. The analysis of these studies showed a significant beneficial effect of strength training interventions on running economy.

The authors concluded that a strength program with as little as 2-4 resistance exercises, not performed to muscle failure, plus plyometrics, 2-3 times a week for 8-12 weeks is a safe and effective strategy to increase running economy. They also noted an improvement when strength training accounted for 30% of total training sessions.

f the above isn't enough motivation to begin a strength program, don't forget that increased strength decreases your injury risk. Not sure where to start? Check out Custom Performance’s Bread and Butter classes!

Dr. Lisbeth Hoyt, PT

Balsalobre-Fernández, C., Santos-Concejero, J., & Grivas, G. V. (2016). Effects of Strength Training on Running Economy in Highly Trained Runners. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,30(8), 2361-2368.