Weight training for runners

Before I ran my first marathon in 2008, I did not incorporate lifting weights into my training routine; I was a running-only kind of gal. After crossing the finish line in more pain than I imagined possibly, I knew two things. First, I would have to step up my training (missing my longest run and being sick half way around the world three weeks before race dad didn’t help) and secondly, I needed to add in some resistance and strength training into my routine.

For the longest time before I started lifting weight, my husband urged me to start. He kept telling me that lifting weights would improve my muscular strength and endurance for running. I wish I had listened to him sooner because a couple months after I started lifting, I saw a dramatic improvement in my running. I had gained much needed muscular endurance, and I also noticed that I was not nearly as sore after longer runs.

Here was my first ever lower-body lifting routine:

  • Squats, 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Walking lunges, up and down the length of the basketball court three times
  • Dead lifts, 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Leg press, 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Leg extension, 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Hamstring curl, 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Adductor machine, 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Abductor machines, 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Calf raises, 3 sets of 15 reps

Combined with running, this routine made my legs stronger. I noticed that with every stride I had more power. After I incorporated weight training and more focused running (making sure to include a long run, tempo run, and speed drill in every week of training), I saw drastic improvements in my PRs.

In the near future, I will post two more workout routines, my upper-body routine and my core routine.

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4 responses to “Weight training for runners

  1. I need to get better about this! I get some strength training in yoga – lots of lunges and leg balances – but I know that a lower body routine that I do consistently would help me a lot!

    • I love yoga. I can return to it in a few weeks and I am so excited! The first time I went my quads were on fire…so yeah, you get strength training in yoga for sure!

  2. Thanks for posting this! I’m trying to incorporate a weight training program into my routine. I started and ended with legs. I went as heavy as I could go while keeping proper form, and then I couldn’t walk for a week after. Do you have any suggestions about how heavy I should aim? (go heavy, go moderate, go light)? Thanks!

    • Right now I am doing lighter weight because I am still guarding my knee. I’ve read that endurance runners benefit from lots of light/moderate reps because it increases muscular endurance, but heavy lifting is also good because you increase strength. Sorry, I don’t have any suggestions, but maybe you could mix it up. Sometimes I do pyramid sets where I start out light and do 15 reps to start and I gradually increase my weight. By my fourth set, I only do about 4-6 reps because the weight is very heavy.

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