Strength Training Workouts And Tips For Distance Runners

At one point, the way in which runners strengthened their bodies was very basic. If you had a flaw, you went to the gym and dealt with it head-on – focusing on one muscle at a time.

One places emphasis on intricate exercises that can be done with very little equipment within the home environment – exercises that are meant to mimic the body movements associated with running.

The new way utilizes muscles more efficiently compared to the old, but heavily relies on classic weight-lifting exercises.

Lower Body Blast

Squat, Single-Leg Balance, Lunge

This strength program for the lower body will be extremely helpful for improving your running abilities. You will test your capacity to move and flexibility, your strength, coordination, and the strength of your performance.


Doing a squat is beneficial for improving the flexibility of your hips, knees, and ankles. The pressure on the joints when going into the lowest point can help to ease any stiffness and discomfort that accumulates after prolonged exercise.

Doing squats, whether during a short session of exercising or as part of posture revival while running, can help increase the strength of your legs and the power of your hips.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, shoulders, with your knees and ankles stacked on top of each other
  • As you lower, focus on pressing the knees out, sitting your hips back, and keeping your back straight
  • At the bottom of the squat, keep pressing your knees out and try to keep your toes pointing forward
  • Your upper body should stay upright, avoiding rounding forward. If this happens, try sitting back onto your heels a bit more, and don’t sink quite as low
  • When standing back up, push through the heels to rise back up

Single-Leg Balance

This workout bolsters hamstring and glute muscle strength, increases core stability and expands the flexibility in your hips.

These advantages aid you in keeping your momentum regardless of how tired you feel, even when running a long distance. One should not overlook the advantages for one’s balance when running on a trail.

  • Stand on your right leg with left leg bent and your foot a few inches off the ground
  • Focus on keeping your hips in straight alignment, parallel to the ground by engaging the hip and glute of your right leg
  • The fun part: challenge your proprioception! Take your gaze in various directions–perhaps finishing by closing your eyes and seeing if you can maintain your balance.
  • Switch legs and repeat


This dependable workout helps to increase your output of strength as a runner, and it can become even more challenging by doing jumping lunges. Each repetition will draw strength from your buttocks, the back of the thighs, and the front of the thighs. Basically, your whole lower body will feel the demand.

  • Start by standing tall with shoulders over hips, hips over knead es, and knees over ankles.
  • Take a big step back with one leg, foot up on the toes, and lightly bend the front leg
  • Lower your back knee toward the ground, then press through the front heel to return to standing
  • Switch legs
  • After a few reps of this, replace the step back to two feet with an explosive jump (press through the heel of your front lunge leg). If you’re not ready for the jumping variation yet, stick with stepping back
  • Use the jump to switch from one lunge to the other. Find your balance in the new lunge position before jumping again to switch sides

Workout Plan

Do each move for 30 seconds, taking a break of 15 seconds between each one. Repeat the circuit five times.

  • 30 seconds squats
  • 15 seconds rest
  • 30 seconds per leg in single-leg balance
  • 15 seconds rest
  • 30 seconds lunges or jumping lunges, alternating legs
  • 15 seconds rest
  • Repeat

Running Strength Training Core Workout

Core Workout: Reverse Plank, Single Arm Plank, Side Plank

Stabilizing the torso can not only help you to remain upright on the run and maintain good posture but also help ensure that your hips remain balanced and in the right place.

Maintaining a centred body throughout a run can help evade lower back issues, which are a frequent grievance among long-distance runners.

Reverse Plank

This variation of a plank tests your shoulder flexibility, wrist suppleness, and how your glutes and hamstrings respond when you raise yourself. Your hip flexors will also be stretched when you raise up into a bridge position.

  • Start seated with your legs extended and hands flat on the ground by your hips
  • Your fingers should face forward, toward your feet
  • Push your hips up to the air, flexing your quads and your toes to stay strong in position
  • Lower your hips to rest, then lift again for the next rep

Single-arm plank

You can increase the difficulty of this exercise by performing it using only one arm. This will engage your core and hips, making it more difficult to move from side to side. By pushing back against the turn that you are making, you will cause your abdominal and abdominal wall muscles to work intensely.

  • The starting position should look like a push-up, with your arms directly under your shoulders, back straight, and toes propped on the ground
  • Positioning your feet farther apart will add stability while bringing them closer together will add difficulty
  • Once you feel secure, slowly lift your right arm off the ground, avoiding rotating through the shoulders or hips
  • Bring the arm around to your lower back
  • Lower your arm and switch to the left side

Side Plank

Challenge your obliques and hips in this variation. Be aware of your posture and prevent leaning forward or backwards. Tighten the muscles in your lower leg to keep your posture stable and prevent your hips from dropping to the floor.

  • Start off seated with your upper body propped up on your arm
  • Extend your legs out so your body forms a straight line
  • With your hand on the ground directly under your shoulder, lift your hips off the ground so your body forms a 45-degree angle to the ground
  • Lower your hips back to the ground to switch sides

Workout Plan

Do each exercise for 30 seconds, doing three to five rounds of the whole set. Allow yourself approximately 10 seconds to transition between exercises if you are timing yourself.

  • 30 seconds reverse plank
  • 15 seconds per arm in single-arm plank (30 seconds total)
  • 30 seconds per side plank
  • 30 seconds rest
  • Repeat

Full-Body Strength Workout

Kettlebell Swing, Lunge, Push Up

You will observe an energetic full-body exercise as well as one for both the upper and lower areas of the body.

Kettlebell Swing

The main target of the kettlebell swing exercise will be the muscles in the back, buttocks, and hamstrings. You’ll also perfect the production of force by engaging with the sudden explosive nature of this motion.

  • With a light to medium weight kettlebell (18-26 pounds), set up with the kettlebell on the ground a foot or two in front of you, feet shoulder-width apart
  • Hinge at the hips to bend over and grab the kettlebell handle
  • Hike the kettlebell back so it swings between your legs
  • As the kettlebell swings back to the front, snap your hips forward to help bring up the bell
  • With your shoulders back and core tight, allow the kettlebell to “float” up to about eye level
  • Control the descent of the bell as it swings back down, repeating the sequence of hinging back and snapping the kettlebell back up


The lunge is an effective exercise when it comes to increasing strength, testing balance and targeting the glutes. Just as we found with the routine targeting the lower body, it is a great choice. Instead of jumping lunges, you can make the exercise more difficult by holding weights during the workout if you feel prepared.

  • Start by standing nice and tall, shoulders over hips, hips over knees, knees over ankles.
  • Take a big step forward with one leg, lightly bend the front leg
  • Lower your body toward the ground, keeping your front shin vertical
  • Press through the front heel to bring your legs back
  • Switch legs and repeat


The push-up is surely one of the enduringly classic exercises, making it a must inclusion to any strength routine, including those designed for runners.

You should move your arms as if you were running, keeping your elbows close to your body. You will be increasing the strength of your shoulder and upper back muscles as well as doing extra work on your core.

  • Start from a plank position, shoulders directly over wrists, butt squeezed, hips parallel to the ground
  • Remember to keep your head and neck in line with your spine
  • With your elbows tucked close to your sides, slowly lower your body to the ground
  • Push back up through the hands to raise your body back to the starting position
  • If the line of your body “breaks” by your hips dropping, scale back by keeping your knees on the ground to rise back up, then lower from your toes on the next rep

Strength Training Workout Tips

Do Fewer Reps For Better Neuromuscular Efficiency

No longer is it necessary to do a large number of repetitions with minimal resistance for a set.

Now, you make each repetition more taxing. Instead of doing twenty repetitions of an exercise per set, like those in the past, you should perform fewer, such as ten, eight, or six.

Mike Young, who is a coach and kinesiologist located in Cary, North Carolina, insists that it is better to complete fewer repetitions in each set. Rather than the way many long-distance runners used to, more like a soccer player would.

The key to preventing an increase in muscle size is to not overexert yourself. He warns that one should not go to the point of muscle exhaustion. Bodybuilders use this as a tactic to cause their muscles to enlarge.

The benefits can be enormous.

Young states that the newest investigations demonstrate that this form of strength exercise can help running economy (a metric of the capability of your muscle groups to consume oxygen) by up to 20 per cent.

It is remarkable that in a 20-minute 5K race, the best runners can finish in only 36-84 seconds, something most people would exhaust themselves trying to accomplish in practice. And it really does work. A couple of months before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the females on my running team experimented with a new training regimen, under the guidance of an instructor who was an expert in running long-distance.

Sadly, the 2020 racing season was scrapped, but in time trials she experienced a plummet in her 5K time, going from 18:24 during a track meet before COVID to 17:55 during the trial.

She reduced her time in the 5K race by 52 seconds, going from 19:05 to 18:13, and she also lessened her time in the 10K race by 1 minute and 46 seconds, changing her time from 38:54 to 37:08. Many elements influenced this, yet both were experienced contenders, and there is no uncertainty that they both undertook a year and a half of devoted strength training.

According to Young, the efficiency of the neuromuscular system is heightened by its functioning. This enables your legs to activate a higher number of muscle fibres on demand, as well as to quickly disengage them when not required.

This assists muscles in understanding how to loosen when not being utilized, decreasing their propensity to oppose one another. He explains that strength training has a noteworthy impact. The effort required to get the muscles to work together to create tension by activating and releasing muscle fibres is being emphasized.

But that’s not the only benefit. It’s also good for injury prevention.

It is of immense significance, according to Dan White, a physical therapist working at the P.A.C.E. facility. Therapeutic Associates of Eugene, Oregon don’t only focus on treating injuries, but also on the preventative aspect of reducing those injuries – which is an effortless method of increasing performance.

Don’t Make It Into a Circus Act

White and Young have slightly different takes on the issue.

Young focuses on strength and power. He warns against doing overly complex exercises taken from videos on the internet, as these can be counter-productive and resemble a performance instead of beneficial exercise.

He states that the best outcome is found between extremes, with a good mix of strength, coordination, and balance, but not to an extent where it is impossible to build up tension and power. We desire for each repetition to possess the high calibre movements.

Mix Concentric and Eccentric Training

He noted that combining both concentric and eccentric training is also a key point. Concentric motion is when you tense your muscle, such as when you pick up the weight by flexing your biceps.

Lowering it without allowing it to fall back to the ground abruptly is what is known as being eccentric. Young claims that the muscles are made to produce tension while stretching as it is necessary at certain parts of the gait.

For instance, he suggests performing a combination of concentric and eccentric strength exercises (such as squats). Take some time off and complete a series of plyometric exercises like squat jumps, which target the same muscles. After that, you would repeat the strength exercises, doing two or three sets of each.

Make It Integrative and Functional

White chooses to avoid conventional gym movements and opts for more “combined” ones

It depends on which areas you feel need the most improvement, however, the fun, the fundamental concept is to carry out fairly intricate movements that target the majority of your musculature simultaneously.

He illustrates a jogger with a feeble gluteus which nothing had seemed to make better.

White put forward an idea for the runner: having them try standing on a box with one foot, as if taking off on a run, with the other leg bent at the knee.

When the physical activity was no longer difficult for him, he moved on to doing the same action with a 10-pound kettlebell in his hand on the side that was opposite to his supporting leg. “[That] became a go-to thing for him,” he says.

This activity may not appear to be difficult on the surface, yet when factoring in the weight of the box along with the proper sizing, it can become very strenuous. And, similar to Young’s exercises designed to increase power, it consists of both a concentric movement (climbing up onto the box) and an eccentric action (slowly getting off of it).

Young enjoys exercises that have a practical and athletic purpose, as opposed to regimens that merely involve tensing one muscle separately.

Why spend time doing exercises for your biceps and triceps when you can get more efficient results by doing pull-ups, which exercise both muscle groups more naturally?


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