Strength Train to Win Your Race

Running a few 5K races this summer is an excellent way to challenge yourself. Once you’ve decided to start racing, you should incorporate training runs and cross-training into your regular workout routine. Combine running, strength training, core strength, and other forms of cardio into your routine to improve your performance when race day arrives.

Make your training fun and challenging by tracking your distances and times for each training run. Incorporate indoor and outdoor runs, sprints, hills, and distance to keep training runs interesting. When it’s time to strength train, be sure to work the entire body as opposed to focusing only on your legs. The running motion incorporates upper body, lower body, and core muscle groups and training the entire body will improve your performance.

I found two studies that talked about strength training and running being used together in a training program. In the first study, it was found that explosive strength training improved the 5K time endurance athletes [1]. The second study indicated that endurance athletes could benefit from strength training if they were doing certain activities that required fast-twitch muscle fibers [2].

These studies were done on trained endurance athletes and indicated some positive correlations between strength training and running. Most athletes, beginners and advanced, should benefit from strength training as a cross-training activity to improve 5K time [1], although endurance runners who run 4-6 days per week may not see notable improvement in running performance for longer races [2].

If you have just signed up for one of your first races or you haven’t raced in a long time, you definitely want to start training runs at least 4 weeks before race day (for a 5K). If the race you’ve chosen is a longer than 5K, plan on training at least 8 weeks prior to the race.

You can design your own race training program with a simple calender and a few ideas. As a beginner in moderate physical condition, running a 5K, you can run twice per week and strength train twice per week for the first four weeks. For the second four weeks, include 3 runs in your training regimen and strength train twice per week.

If you have any questions, let me know by sending me an email!

Good Luck!

1. Leena Paavolainen1, Keijo Häkkinen2, Ismo Hämäläinen1, Ari Nummela1, and Heikki Rusko Journal of Applied Physiology Vol. 86, Issue 5, 1527-1533, May 1999 Explosive-strength training improves 5-km running time by improving running economy and muscle power
2. R. C. Hickson, B. A. Dvorak, E. M. Gorostiaga, T. T. Kurowski, and C. Foster J Appl Physiol, Nov 1988; 65: 2285 – 2290 Potential for strength and endurance training to amplify endurance performance

Jessica Dawn is a fitness professional who has been studying health & fitness for over 10 years. In addition to actively participating in fitness, Jessica has a degree in Kinesiology (exercise science) which allows her to understand both the scientific and behavioral aspects of weight loss and fitness.

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