How to Run Longer - Strength Training Tips for Runners

Some of you might be thinking "What? We have to workout in order to run? Isn't running itself already a workout?" Yes, it is, but to be able to run longer with more ease, you'd better incorporate some strength training into your routine. I'm not talking about the type of strength training Urijah Faber or Serena Williams would do. Runners don't need to be that brawny. However, running can be much easier for those who are strong in both upper and lower sections of the body. "Can't we achieve that simply just from running?" you may ask. Unfortunately, no. Running can make your calves uber strong, but your torso might not develop as much sinew. After running for an hour straight, have you ever noticed that it's not only your legs that feel like melting rubber but your entire body? So if you think your "superman's calves" are all it takes to make you a good runner, think again!


Strength Training for Runners - Upper Body

Watch a pro marathoner run and you'll see that their whole body moves in sync. Their upper body is upright; their shoulders remain relaxed; and their arms move synchronously with their legs. People whose upper bodies aren't so fit, on the other hand, often hunch their shoulders slightly and carry their torso awkwardly like a dead weight. This is because they tend to get tired in the arms, shoulders and back pretty quickly. By doing some strength training regularly and maintaining a basic level of fitness in the upper section, your torso won't be a burden for you to carry while running anymore.

Some Good Strength Training Exercises for the Upper Body

  • Dumbbell Lifting (Bicep Curls) - Heavier doesn't necessarily mean better. You could strain your muscles if you get too ambitious with the dumbbells. Ideally, choose a weight that you can lift 12 times consecutively with no difficulties.
  • Push-Ups - When it comes to chest strengthening, this simple workout is an all time winner. You can do as many push-ups as you want at a time as long as it doesn't strain your muscles.
  • Pull-Ups - A pull-up bar isn't something you can only find at a gym. Many public parks also have them for both adults and children. To do pull ups, grab the bar firmly with your hands about hip-width apart and pull your whole body up as high as you can. This exercise will help strengthen your arms, shoulders and back.
  • Raising Dumbbells over Head - Just like when you do bicep curls, try to choose a weight that's not too overwhelming for you. You can either lift two dumbbells at once or only work on one side at a time. Hold a dumbbell in your hand, with your elbow bent and your palm facing away from you. Then straighten your arm slowly and push the dumbbell towards the ceiling. Do it about 12 times on each side. It will make your shoulders stronger.


Strength Training for Runners - Mid Section

"A distance runner couldn't be too strong in the middle," said Ron Clarke, an Olympic runner who notably set 17 world records in the 1960s. Every time your foot hits the ground while running, the shock from all the pounding will mostly be confined in the legs. If your mid section is strong, however, it can absorb some of the impact and lessen the tension in your legs. Accordingly, your legs won't get exhausted too quickly, and there will likely be less ache and soreness at the end of the day.

Some Good Strength Training Exercises for the Mid Section

  • Sit Ups - This classic exercise is one of the best workouts for a six-pack abs.
  • Knees to Chest on Pull-Up Bar - Grab the bar with your hands hip-width apart. Then curl your body up and try to touch your chest with your knees. It might make you look a little bit like a monkey, and that's exactly why it's fun!
  • Twist Crunches - If normal crunches are not challenging enough for you, you can always add a little twist to it. Lie on your back with you knees bent and about hip-width apart. Put your hands beneath your head and interlace your fingers. Use your abdominal muscles to lift your upper body up and twist to the left with your right elbow pointing at your left knee. Slowly lower yourself and repeat on the other side. While doing this exercise, keep your neck relaxed. Don't try to curl your upper body up towards your knees. Instead, imagine your chest and neck being pulled upward by the ceiling.


Strength Training for Runners - Quadriceps

According to Bill Rodgers, a four-time New York City Marathon winner, a distance runner's quadriceps or front thigh muscles should ideally be 25% stronger than their hamstrings. Unfortunately, you can't achieve that just from running. While running tends to overdevelop the hamstrings, it does almost nothing for the quadriceps. In other words, runners who don't do proper strength training for the thighs usually end up with powerful hamstrings and weak quads. As a result, most of the impact shock from running is confined in their lower legs and around the knees instead of being distributed to the whole leg. Besides hindering you from running longer, this muscle imbalance can also lead to chronic knee pain and tendon injuries.

Some Good Strength Training Exercises for The Quads

  • Straight Leg Lift - Wrap a weight strap around your ankle. Sit comfortably on a chair, straighten the leg with the weight on it, lift up the leg and slowly lower it down. It's importatnt that you keep the leg straight as you lift and lower it, otherwise this exercise will be relatively useless for the quads. Do this about 12 times, then do the same on the other side.
  • Dumbbell Squats - Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Lower your upper body as though you're sitting down on a chair. Keep your back as upright as you can. Stay in the position for a few seconds and then stand up again. Do a set of 12 at a time.


Strength Training for Runners - A Few Things to Remember

  • Don't overdo strength training exercises. Two to three times a week should be enough.
  • Don't lift weights on consecutive days.
  • If possible, do strength training exercises on the days that you have an easy running schedule or the days you don't run.

More by this Author

Comments 30 comments

WayneDave profile image

WayneDave 5 years ago from Leeds, England

Good article, but I would not agree with your mid-section exercises. Try the plank instead.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

Yes, the plank is good. It can stregthen the core, back and quads at the same time. The core exercises above are also good, though. But of course, you can do the plank instead. What I have written here are just some suggestions. There're numerous other ways to exercise your core.

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

Well done, my friend. I love all your tips related with running, including this one. Thank you so much for share this with us. Vote it up!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States

This hub gives very good advice for runners. I have several in my family, unfortunately not me but I am going to pass your article along. Rated up.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

@Prasetio - You're welcome, Prasetio. Thanks so much for dropping by and leaving a sweet comment. :)

@Pamela - That's very cool. Please pass these running tips along. Thanks. :)

akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

Great advice on running - if I take it up again (other than underwater) I'll give it a go!!

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago

Great tips with good examples. I really need to get more fit--I'm such a wimp when it comes to exercising. I consider housework my primary form of exercise--sigh..Rated up.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

@akirchner - Thanks, Audrey. :)

@anglnwu - hehehe I'm the opposite of you. I work out almost everyday but do housework only when it really needs to be done. That's why we call our place "the pigsty." LOL

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago

Lol--my place is just as "pigstygy" as yours, maybe more. That's just my excuse. I'm actually a reluctant housekeeper. I would rather eat and read and sleep, which go rather well with lazy summer days. Enjoy your day.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

Hmmm "pistygy"...Sounds like it could be my new last name. "Om Pigstygy" hehehe

daniellehorgan 5 years ago

Hey, I really liked your article! I normally do one day a week of strength training, which is a full body conditioning class at my gym. Do you think this is enough for someone who runs 3-4 days a week?

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

Yeah, that should be enough. You may also do some easy strength-training exercises at home once a week, though. :)

BackpackerGirl profile image

BackpackerGirl 5 years ago from Ohio

Great article. I'd always wondered why my upper body would get sore from running.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

Hi, BackpackerGirl. Thanks for stopping by. Glad you found this hub helpful. :)

IJR112 profile image

IJR112 5 years ago

I agree with this. I think a lot of people assume you should just run in order to get better at running. It is way better, however, to include weightlifting as part of your routine. I got a lot better at running once I started doing other exercises in tandem with running.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

Thanks a lot for dropping by and sharing your experience, IJR!

KBEvolve profile image

KBEvolve 5 years ago from United States

I've never thought about how core and upper body strength contributes to running. This article changed that.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

Thanks for your comment, KBEvolve. Core strength is very important in most types of sports, I think.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your tip, Wilson. :)

Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 5 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

Good tips for runners or wannabe runners. I plan to get back into it in the new year, once I am back near the beach ... nothing better than jogging along the sand. Will try out some of your tips.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago Author

Yeah, a run along the beach is very enjoyable. It can be fun and calming at the same time (if it's a quiet beach). Thanks a lot for dropping by.

Nicole S profile image

Nicole S 4 years ago from Minnesota

This was helpful, I didn't know that running made strong hamstrings but not quads. Good info to know!

yodastyle 4 years ago

This was just awesome. Thank you.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

Nicole and Yodastyle, thanks a lot for stopping by and commenting!

snowdoniarunner 4 years ago from Snowdonia, North Wales, UK

very technical, but interesting, lets not take the fun out of running.

Shoes on, Out the door and Off we go.


kjrzeek1 profile image

kjrzeek1 4 years ago from New Jersey, USA

Thank you for the information. I have just started running longer distances and this will help.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

Hi, kjrzeek1. Thanks for your feedback. I'm glad you found this helpful. Keep running!

Rebecca2904 profile image

Rebecca2904 4 years ago

Very interesting! Thanks for the advice

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

You're very welcome :)

monia saad profile image

monia saad 20 months ago from In my Dream

It must not be lazy more than that. A great article and information are excellent. I've really benefited a lot. Thank you

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article