Strength Training for Runners

Author: Pro-Tec Elite Athlete and Champion Ultrarunner Krissy Moehl

I get it is hard to fit in, but please do it!

We love to run, period. We know we should do the “extras” (strength and mobility exercises and foam rolling) to keep us healthy and injury free. And we are really good at doing them if or once an injury takes over. As a running coach I prescribe CORE two to three times a week and I offer some examples of workouts my clients can pick from. And I 100% understand when the week goes by and there just wasn’t time for CORE. It’s funny though, we will run 8-15 hours a week, maybe more, maybe less, but we can’t find 10 minutes a day? A little over an hour a week to do some strength work? And even question why don’t I just do this? Believe me I get it. It is hard. It is counter (for all the right reasons) to what we get out of running. It takes constant focus, instead of the day-dreamy headspace a long run allows. But like running, we always feel better after.

How about when you trip on a root mid-stride and wobble a bit but feel your core engage, whip your other foot around and keep you upright and flowing down the trail rather than head over heels rolling? That is your core working for you. How about running the longer miles and your form keeps going well after your endurance training realistically should? That is your strength holding you together for the long haul.

In an effort to change my habits I picked “strength” as my word for 2019. Whenever I questioned getting in a few planks and push-ups or better yet getting up early to join a HIIT class, having my word of the year helped me get there. And then 2020 happened. Here I’d created a great system in group classes that got me to stay consistent with strength/resistance training; I was dependent on the motivation of an outside resource. Not a bad thing, but in 2020 that was no longer an option. We are all morphing and figuring out how to live in this challenging year. Internal motivation is even tougher to come by, and ever more necessary.

Some changes I’ve made in an attempt I’ve engaged with YouTube videos, (think yoga videos and dancey fun workouts with hand weights I did behind closed curtains.) I found heavy things to lift with good form and move about, including carrying PD, my favorite canine companion.  I’ve written out exercises on a piece of paper to keep on the floor while a timer repeats and I cycle through. I’ve called a friend on FaceTime and challenged her to hold plank on and off while we chatted. Starting 11/20 I am going to work with a strength trainer over zoom.

Another focus for me as I join the master’s category is maintaining muscle mass and strength. I seem to read everywhere that with age, women especially, lose muscle mass at a higher rate and we need to work harder to maintain strength. And how about our bones! Our legs benefit from running, but our upper bodies need help and support too.

If you came to this article hoping I’d tell you the five best exercises for runners to do (read that here), I’m sorry, that is not what this is. It is about understanding that engaging runners to do strength work is probably the biggest uphill battle I face as a coach and also personally as an athlete, and I know is worth fighting for. It is about motivation so that you will find something, anything, that you WILL do. It is a reminder that you need to.

Strength Training Tool Recommendation: Resistance Bands

Watch 6 Exercises with Resistance Bands

Read Top 10 Exercises for Runners

Krissy is a top ultra-marathon runner with 100+ races and 55 wins to her name. She is a leader in the running community and stays heavily involved by coaching, writing (Running Your First Ultra), pacing, and race directing Chuckanut 50k. Krissy has been an elite athlete with Pro-Tec Athletics for many years and her favorite Pro-Tec products include the Patellar Tendon StrapIT Band Compression Wrap3D Flat Ankle and Stretch Band.