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Strength training for runners

Updated: Mar 11, 2020

I was reading an article on and came across one that was a must read. Now, for those of you that don’t read competitor magazine or frequent their website, they focus on the latest training, news and nutrition for the running world. Most folks they feature in the magazine are lean, mean, marathon-running machines, so when I noticed the they were offering “strength” training advice I had to see what they had to say.

For the most part I really liked their advice; they are encouraging runners to lift heavy weight and to add some explosive movements into their training. Most endurance athletes I know, and even the high level distance runners I’ve been around, have a mind set of “I want to be lean and light, not bulky and I only want to develop slow twitch muscle fibers” so they stay away from heavy deadlifts and back squats.

The author mentions that there comes a point of diminishing returns when running long distances 3-6 times a week and then supplementing your training with more minimally loaded training in the weight room. “Performance increases are greater when common weak points, such as strength and explosiveness, are exploited through training.” When your sole focus becomes this slow twitch, minimal loading, low force production training, you miss out on all the amazing hormonal, skeletal, cardiovascular adaptations that they you would get otherwise in a more complete form of weight training. When proper periodization is implemented and you develop a strength base, the time will come for you to hit heavy triples, doubles and singles in the program. The increase in bone density alone will be enough to make a difference in your ability to survive the constant pounding that comes with distance running. Strength training yields the development of fast-twitch muscle fibers as well, which will help your top-end speed. Imagine if you could put the same amount of force into the ground as the runner next to you, but with less effort, sounds nice doesn’t it?

I have always been a fan of having a holistic training program –one that requires the entire body to adapt in every possible way. Most of my personal endurance training comes in the form of yoga. Holding single leg poses and arm balances provides a more exciting challenge for me. I won’t get into my training philosophy here, that’s not what this post is about. Instead, I wanted to share some additional strength and power workouts for my endurance friends out there.

Workout 1

Super set each pair of exercises “Complete (1a) then immediately go into (1b)” then rest 90-150 seconds between the completion of each super set.

1a) Kettlebell Swings 5 x 12 (Video)

1b) Alt.MB Push-ups 5x 5-10 (Video)

2a) Lateral Line Hops 4 x 20 (Video)

2b) SL RDL 5 x 6 each Leg (Video)

3a) Dead hang, straight leg raises 4×15 (Video) 

3b) Side planks, 60 seconds each side

Workout 2

1a) Goblet Squat 5 x 10-12 reps (Video)

1b) Superman Pulldown 5x 15 (Video)

2a) Dumbbell Push Press 5 x 5 (Video) 

2b) Chin-ups 5 x 8  (Video) 

3a) V-Up  3×12 (Video)

3b) Mountain Climbers 3×50 (Fast)

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