5 Easy Ways to Build Strength for Runners
I love running! Since our world has been put on quarantine, I have recently gotten back into running. Over many years, I have gained tips and tricks on how to build your strength as a runner. So here are my “5 Easy Ways To Build Your Strength For Runners.”
- Slow and Steady Wins the Race (aka. Walk). – If you have never run before in your life, I high recommend walking 3-4 miles at the start. You will slowly build up your cardiovascular strength and you will be preparing your muscles for more intensity in the long run. Hiking is another great option, esp. if you are hiking in an area with hills, this will really tax your heart and build cardiovascular strength without even starting to run yet.
- Intervals – This is a great way to build endurance. Interval training is great for those trying to build strength and cardiovascular strength and it’s even great for advanced runners who want to add mileage. Training intervals (i.e. run 5 minutes, walk 5 minutes) will train your body to push through fatigue and muscle exhaustion. You will build strength and soon you can add time such as: run 10 minutes, walk 5 minutes OR run 20 minutes, walk 5 minutes. Slowly but surely, as you start to gain strength, you can lower the time you walk in your intervals (i.e.: run 10 minutes, walk 5 minutes to run 10 minutes, walk 2 minutes). You slowly decrease the time you are actively resting which will build up your stamina and endurance to run 5-6 miles easy or (if you are an advanced runner) to add on those extra miles, if training for long distance runs.
- Strengthen Your Lower Body – I cannot stress this enough because I have gotten injured because of having a weak lower body. Strengthening your legs (quads, hamstrings, calves, and ankles) and strengthening your glutes and pelvic stability is crucial to maintaining good form and endurance as a runner. Strong glutes will alleviate pressure from your quads and tension on your IT band which will lower your chances of having knee pain. Lastly, strengthening your calf muscles will increase your power to push off of the ground and will also strengthen your achilles. Strengthening is so important as an athlete for longevity. Oh, and don’t forget your abs! Strong abdominals are vital for maintaining proper form and will support your lower back from the impact of running. Take it from me: I constantly need to be adamant on my lower body strength training. Over the past few years, I have come to find that I have weak pelvic stability and glute stability causing back pain and knee pain. I promise you, strengthening these areas will relieve unnecessary tension and you will feel so much stronger on your runs.
- Stretch – A proper cool down is so important after a long run. Stretching helps release lactic acid in the muscles and lengthens the muscles which aids in recovery. You’ll recover faster and feel stronger and more energized to run day after day if you have a proper cool down. Drinking water also helps rid your body of lactic acid, which brings me to #5…
- Drink Water – Drinking plenty of water the day before a run, the morning of a run, during a run, and after a run will ensure that your muscles stay lubricated and functioning properly. It will also decrease your likelihood of getting muscle cramps. Lastly, proper hydration will prevent you from overheating and getting heat stroke (esp. if running outside in the heat).