This month, we'd like to congratulate Carol on her great run at the Chilli Heart 5k (2nd in her age group and sub 30!). Way to go Carol. We'd also like to congratulate Lynn on a great showing at the Hypo Half. She was rewarded with a shiny new PB in the dead of winter....great job Lynn!
We also like to welcome our two newest Renegades, Liz Stratton and Deb Szabo. Liz and Deb have run for several years and will be training with us to prepare for the Pelee Half Marathon in June. Welcome ladies!
This month, we're fortunate to have another guest contributor. Thanks to Jenny Lindsay for her contribution....here it is:
The Importance of Strength Training for Runners
For those of you who do not know me or have been fortunate enough to not have to walk into my office or that of another health practitioner, my name is Jenny Lindsay. I am a physiotherapist at Archway Health and Sport Services, a long time recreational runner and fitness enthusiast. I am lucky enough to interact with many runners and active individuals on a daily basis helping them achieve their goals, remain healthy, and stay injury-free.
Often I find endurance runners have tunnel vision when it comes to training. They are consumed by getting every mile and training run in but often neglect strength training as a pillar of their program. I often hear the excuses: “I don’t have time” or “I don’t want to bulk up”, so I would like to delve deeper into why strength training is imperative to your training program, not only for injury prevention but also in order to improve yourself as a runner.
Most running injuries can be classified as overuse injuries. Running is a repetitive activity. Therefore, if you have a muscle imbalance, poor technique, or an overstressed tissue mile after mile, eventually something has to give. Injuries like Achilles tendinopathy, plantar fasciitis, and patellar-femoral syndrome are all building below the surface long before you actually start to feel pain. Strength training will help build muscles that important for power and stability through a run. I’m sure almost every one of you has been told you have weak gluts and/or a weak core. Runners are often very quad dominant, which is a consequence of the running posture. Functionally dynamic glut and core strength will reduce torque and stress on the lower chain (hips, knees, ankles) as well as make you a more efficient runner by not wasting precious muscle energy on extra unwanted hip drops or lumbar rotation.
Running is an amazing mode of fitness. It’s affordable, you can do it anywhere, and you’re never too old to start. The weight bearing nature of running is excellent to maintain good bone density, but that being said, running will not put your joints through a full range of motion. Joints need to reach end-range in order to receive nutrition and maintain good cartilage health. The gradual wear down of cartilage is what leads to arthritic pain, so it is important to maintain good lubrication of our joints, especially knees and hips. Simple body weight exercises like squats and lunges will put your hips, knees, and ankles through a full range of motion as well as surrounding muscles and tendons.
How can strength training make you a better runner?
Strength training increases type II muscle fibers that are responsible for power and maximal strength output, which translates to running as producing and absorbing more force over more distance. Strength training also increases your metabolic rate during and after exercise more than steady-state cardio will. This means improved weight management and more lean mass development. There are also countless studies that prove adding a strength training routine to a running program improves both maximal aerobic speed and time to exhaustion compared to running alone.
What does strength training mean?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not encouraging you to go out and be able to bench 250lbs or back squat twice your body weight. I’m simply talking about taking at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week, devoted to train muscles that compliment running. Body weight exercises are often overlooked for their efficacy. Little to no equipment is needed and they can be completed at home. Making sure that your strength training routine relates functionally to running will ensure greater crossover. For example, running is a single-leg activity so you need to train that way. Incorporating several single-leg exercises will help those tissues perform better in a unilateral posture. The most important part of strength training is that your form (just like in running) is optimal and you are activating the desired muscles. Your body will cheat if you allow it so be mindful and present when you are training.
My favorite exercises for the endurance runner: most of these you can easily Google but feel free to email me if you would like further clarification or pictures/videos.
- Squats: making sure to lower beyond 90 degrees knee flexion if able
- Split squats
- Walking lunges: *weighted overhead walking lunges add extra core work
- Single leg Russian deadlift
- Single leg squat: this is an advanced exercise but can be modified by using the wall to support yourself or a set of TRX straps
- Box step ups: 12-20” box heights work well
- Bridged hamstring curls with the exercise ball
- Banded lateral walks
- Push-up/pull-up/rows: upper body exercises will also help with revving metabolism and core strength
I want to thank Cal for asking me to be a contributor this month and I am happy to speak further with anyone wanting more evidence or information regarding this topic or any other within the realm of rehab, injury prevention, etc. Good luck to everyone on their goals for 2017!!