Strength training for runners is something that any serious marathoner is interested in. The problem is that without guidance certain strength moves and techniques do more harm than good in terms of faster times, biomechanical efficiency, etc. Not to be scared off though, increasing strength through training, if done correctly will be highly beneficial to a runner
Running a marathon is an extremely aerobic (oxygen requiring) event. Therefore it only makes sense to train in the aerobic pathway (vs. the anaerobic pathway). Nobody training for a marathon will train like a football player. No, they will go out and train in what they are performing in – running. Training in both pathways will not allow the body of an aerobic athlete to make the large aerobic potential gains and adaptations that are possible and so instead of helping performance it will actually hinder it.
Strength training is more of an anaerobic method which is why it is extremely important as a runner to do lifts and techniques of a more aerobic nature. There are four different abilities that any lifter trains in:
As a marathon runner we want to focus on Muscular Endurance.
Muscular endurance is the ability of the muscle to repeatedly contract over long periods of time, as in a marathon! So although most people think of ALL lifting as "strength training" we as marathoners are really going to pursue "muscular endurance lifting". Yes, it is still "strength lifting" however in the true meaning of the words and abilities, strength and muscular endurance work are different.
Runners aren't looking to becoming big and buff as true strength, power or hypertrophy work would make them. Having lean muscles is a benefit in strength training for runners in the fact that weighing less will help you to go faster and not tire as easily. This doesn't mean to say you aren't strong, only that you are leaner and have more endurance capabilities.
True strength and power moves focus more on high intensity levels (usually greater than 85% of a person's one rep max) with low sets (usually less than 6) and reps and longer rest periods (anywhere from 2-5 minutes) between sets.
As a runner we need to train differently and so we follow these components:
Components of Muscular Endurance Strength Training:
This may seem like haphazard protocol but as soon as one increases their rest breaks and lowers there sets they are no longer doing muscular endurance work. Here is where marathon running efficiency is compromised.
No worries though. I'll make it easy for you to do strength training for runners and break it down exactly as it should be done so no guess work will be involved!