Running economy is the efficiency of your body at converting oxygen consumption into forward motion. The less energy and oxygen that is used, the better. A study showed that strength training focusing on leg strength leads to a 5% increase in running economy and a 21% improvement in treadmill runs at a faster pace. What strength training should you be including as part of your overall running training and how can you fit it into your training schedule?
As far as leg strength is concerned, the 2008 research was based on four sets of four half-squats with a barbell, three times a week with three minutes of recovery using the heaviest weight the participants could manage. Lunges, squats and deadlifts will have similar results. Furthermore, incorporating strength and conditioning work targeting other areas of your body and not just your legs into your training regime will also be beneficial, for example, ab/core work or upper body strength, for example, planks, Russian twists, scorpions or shoulder presses.
How to Fit Strength Exercises Into Your Running Program
When you are already running 3, 4 5 or more times a week, it can be difficult to fit in yet more training. It is recommended to run first and then add strength and conditioning exercises to your post-run routine. Aim to start with one session per week and work towards three sessions. It is also worth noting that you do not need to lift hard all year long Studies have found that a six-week block of focused strength-training during a race build-up can be enough to improve performance. However, ongoing maintenance training is worth keeping up all year long.
In the 2008 research, the runners who completed the half-squat exercises not only became stronger but also more powerful and able to generate force much more quickly after the strength program. The researcher showed that this allowed them to have a “quicker” stride and save energy while running and lead to the improvements. Working on other areas of the body, not just your legs, has been shown to prevent injury by strengthening muscles around the knees and hips. And a runner without an injury is a happy runner.
Studies have shown that incorporating leg strength training into your training schedule will improve your running economy and speed. Adding in strength and conditioning work into your post-run routine will improve your running economy, performance and prevent injury.
Contribution by: Sally Writes