Strengthen Your Stride: The Secret Weapon For Running Long On The Road

Strengthen Your Stride: The Secret Weapon For Running Long On The Road

It’s exciting times for the road running community of South Africa, with marquee events like the Two Oceans Marathon and Comrades Marathon in sight, and taking place within just 2 months of each other. However, facing the daunting task of conquering these Ultra distance events are no easy feat, especially for those daring enough to tackle both! Amidst the exhilaration of conquering these long distances, we must also consider the toll it takes on our bodies. The repetitive high-impact nature of road running demands more than just endurance; it requires resilience, durability, and the ability to recover swiftly between efforts – whether training or competing. While traditional endurance training is essential, this post will show you how incorporating strength training into your regimen will not only help you survive, but thrive in both events.

Strength training as a means to improve running performance is well-versed, we play more than our part in trying to make that knowledge as accessible as possible to the running community. However, less is known about the benefits of strength training to improve your “road tolerance”, a stronger stride can help you increase your running volume in the following ways:

  1. Enhanced Durability: Strength training is all about the targeted loading your muscles. Resulting in bigger muscles, thicker (stronger) tendons and ligaments, and more dense bones. These adaptations result to help the body tolerate the high loads of resistance training, but they can also fortify runners against the repetitive stress of road running. Reducing the risk of injuries such as stress fractures, tendonitis, and muscle strains. Helping to mitigate the physical toll of your current efforts or enabling you to run for even longer.
  2. Improved Running “Economy”: Running economy refers to the energy cost of running at a given pace – i.e. the input required for a specific output. Strength training improves muscle force production, as well as neuromuscular coordination and efficiency. This means you can produce more force with each stride with less relative effort. As a result, less energy is used, less harmful “biproducts” are created, and ultimately the “cost” of each running effort it reduced. Meaning you need less rest and can run more.
  3. Injury Prevention: Strength training can improve your biomechanics, helping to correct muscular imbalances, enhancing joint stability, and improving posture/technique (movement patterns). By maintaining optimal biomechanics and minimizing the impact of repetitive stress, you'll be better equipped to handle the physical demands of long-distance running. Reducing the risk of common running injuries such as shin splints, IT band syndrome, and patellofemoral pain syndrome.
  4. Accelerated Recovery: Building strength through resistance training promotes faster recovery by stimulating muscle protein synthesis (repair and regeneration), improving blood circulation, enhancing nutrient delivery to damaged tissues, and expediting the repair process. This means less downtime between runs and quicker return to peak performance levels, allowing runners to maintain their training consistency and momentum.

With improved durability and faster recovery, road runners can confidently increase their training volume without fear of overuse injuries or burnout. This translates to more miles on the road, more opportunities to fine-tune technique and endurance, and ultimately, greater preparedness for upcoming events.

Practical Tips for Implementing Strength Training:

  1. Prioritize Compound Movements: Focus on exercises that target multiple muscle groups simultaneously, such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, and push-ups, to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.
  2. Progressive Overload: Gradually increase the intensity (volume and/or resistance) of your strength training workouts over time to continually challenge your muscles and continue to stimulate growth.
  3. Recovery and Rest: Allow adequate time for rest and recovery between strength training sessions to prevent overtraining and optimize adaptation. Incorporate massage, stretching, and mobility exercises to alleviate muscle soreness, aid blood flow, and improve flexibility.
  4. Consistency is Key: Consistently incorporate strength training into your weekly routine, aiming for at least 2-3 sessions per week to experience noticeable benefits. Remember, it's the cumulative effects of regular training that yield results.

For road runners, your body is your greatest asset, and strength training isn't just lifting weights; it's lifting limits. By incorporating strength training into our training regimen, we can enhance our durability, reduce recovery time, and ultimately, achieve our running goals with confidence and ease. The kilometers are out there – are you ready to conquer them?

Helping you get back out there