Strength Beyond the Miles: Incorporating Weight Training into Your Running Routine

Weight training can be a beneficial addition to your running program. It can improve your running performance considerably by increasing muscle strength, power and endurance, as well as by reducing the risk of injury. Incorporating weight training into a running program should be done in moderation, and not at the expense of running mileage and specific running training.

Example weight training routine for runners:

Squats – 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a barbell or dumbbells with an overhand grip.
  • With your chest up and your core engaged, begin to lower your body by bending at the hips and knees, as if you were sitting back into a chair.
  • Make sure to keep your back straight and your knees in line with your toes. Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • Pause for a moment at the bottom of the squat, then press through your heels to return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the movement for the desired number of reps, making sure to keep good form throughout the exercise.

It’s important to start with a light weight and to use proper form to avoid injury. As you progress, you can increase the weight.

Deadlifts – 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, barbell centred over feet.
  • Bend at hips and knees, keeping back straight and chest up.
  • Grip barbell just outside knees with overhand or mixed grip.
  • Take a deep breath, brace core, and lift barbell off ground.
  • Push through heels, drive hips forward to lift.
  • Maintain straight back and neutral spine throughout.
  • Use glutes, hamstrings, and lower back for power.
  • Pause briefly at fully upright position.
  • Lower barbell by bending hips and knees.
  • Keep barbell close to body, maintain straight back.
  • Lower until it touches ground.
  • Repeat for desired number of repetitions.
Calf Raises – 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, keeping your core engaged and your back straight.
  • Place your hands on a stable surface such as a wall, chair, or countertop for balance and support.
  • Slowly lift your heels off the ground, rising onto the balls of your feet.
  • Focus on contracting your calf muscles as you reach the top of the movement.
  • Hold the raised position for a moment to maximize the contraction.
  • Slowly lower your heels back down to the starting position, allowing your calves to stretch.
  • Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.
  • Breathe steadily throughout the exercise, inhaling as you lower your heels and exhaling as you lift them.
  • Make sure to maintain proper form and avoid using momentum or bouncing.
  • Adjust the difficulty level by performing the exercise on a raised platform or using weights.
Leg Press – 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Adjust the seat position: Sit on the leg press machine and adjust the seat so that your feet are comfortably placed on the footplate.
  • Place your feet: Position your feet hip-width apart on the footplate, with your toes pointing slightly outward.
  • Adjust the backrest: If the leg press machine has a backrest, adjust it so that your back is supported.
  • Engage your core: Activate your core muscles by pulling your navel toward your spine.
  • Release the safety handles: If the machine has safety handles, release them and prepare for the movement.
  • Bend your knees: Slowly lower the footplate by bending your knees, keeping your back firmly against the backrest.
  • Lower until desired depth: Lower the footplate until your knees are at a 90-degree angle or slightly below, without allowing your hips to lift off the seat.
  • Push the footplate: Push through your heels and extend your legs, straightening your knees and returning to the starting position.
  • Repeat the movement: Complete the desired number of repetitions, maintaining control and proper form throughout the exercise.
  • Adjust weight and rest: If necessary, adjust the weight on the leg press machine and take a short rest before performing additional sets.
Hamstring Curl – 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Start by adjusting the hamstring curl machine to your desired settings, such as the weight resistance and leg pad position.
  • Lie face down on the hamstring curl machine with your legs straight and your ankles hooked under the ankle pads.
  • Position your hips and torso comfortably on the bench and grip the handles, if available, for stability.
  • Engage your core muscles by pulling your belly button towards your spine.
  • Exhale and slowly bend your knees to lift the leg pad towards your glutes, contracting your hamstring muscles.
  • Keep your upper body and hips stationary throughout the movement. Avoid using momentum or swinging your legs.
  • Hold the contracted position for a brief moment, focusing on squeezing your hamstrings.
  • Inhale and slowly extend your legs back to the starting position, maintaining control over the movement.
  • Repeat the exercise for the desired number of repetitions, usually 8-12, while maintaining proper form and control.
  • Take a short rest between sets if needed, and adjust the weight resistance accordingly to match your fitness level and goals.

Gradually increase the weight resistance over time as your strength and endurance improve. Remember to listen to your body and stop the exercise if you experience any pain or discomfort.

Plank – 3 sets of 30-60 seconds
  • Start by positioning yourself face down on the floor, with your forearms and toes touching the ground.
  • Place your forearms on the floor, making sure they are parallel to each other and shoulder-width apart.
  • Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders, forming a 90-degree angle.
  • Engage your core muscles by squeezing your abs and glutes.
  • Lift your body off the ground, balancing on your forearms and toes. Your body should be in a straight line from your head to your heels.
  • Make sure to keep your neck in a neutral position by looking at the floor.
  • Hold this position for the desired amount of time, starting with 20-30 seconds and gradually increasing as you get stronger.
  • Remember to breathe steadily throughout the exercise.
  • To release the plank, gently lower your body back down to the starting position.
Russian Twist – 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
  • Lean back slightly, keeping your back straight and your core engaged.
  • Extend your arms straight in front of you, interlacing your fingers or holding a weight or medicine ball.
  • Lift your feet off the ground, balancing on your glutes.
  • Twist your torso to the right, bringing your arms and the weight or ball to the right side of your body.
  • Pause briefly, engaging your obliques (side abdominal muscles).
  • Slowly twist your torso to the left, bringing the weight or ball to the left side of your body.
  • Continue alternating the twisting motion from side to side.
  • Keep your core engaged and maintain control throughout the movement.
  • Aim for a slow and controlled motion rather than speed.
  • Start with a manageable weight or no weight at all, and gradually increase as you get more comfortable and stronger.

It’s important to note that this is just an example and your weight training program should be tailored to your individual fitness level and goals. It’s always best to consult with a professional trainer or physical therapist before starting any new exercise routine. It’s also essential to have a proper warm up and cool down, and to use correct form to avoid injury.

It’s important to progressively increase the weight and reps over time. Also, you can add or change exercises to keep challenging your body.