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There are countless reasons why a large number of runners do not strength train: don’t like it, worried about it slowing them down, no time, don’t want to bulk up, hate the gym etc.  Regardless the reason, strength training needs to be a part of your weekly training regimen.

I love what Jason Fitzgerald has said,

“There are two types of runners: those who just run and those who are well-balanced athletes.”

As Scott Jones (Mastermind behind this awesome Becoming Ultra Project) told me prior to beginning my training regimen with him as my coach, “We need to make you an athlete first, then you can run.”  When you just run, you open up the door for injury and plateau’s, even decreases, in performance.  The well-balanced athlete incorporates cross training and strength training into their regimen and continues to increase their level of performance and are far less prone to injury.

Strength training is one of the most researched areas of fitness.  Time after time, the benefits have been demonstrated across the board, regardless what type of athlete you are.  Contrary to what most of you may be thinking, you can reap all the rewards of strength training by adding in just a couple 20-minute sessions per week.

Top Benefits of Strength Training for the Runner

  1. Prevent injury: 
    Did you know that 66% of runners are injured annually?  That’s higher than professional football players!  When you add runner-specific strength training exercises, you’re improving your structural fitness – the ability for your tendons, ligaments, muscles and bones to withstand the impact of running.  If you’re prone to injury or are training for marathon distances or further, strength training is an absolute must!
  2. Burn more calories: 
    Your metabolism is largely controlled by your lean muscle mass.  The more lean muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be.  You’ll increase your resting metabolic rate, meaning you’ll be burning more calories without doing any activity.  You also have higher return post exercise with strength training compared to any aerobic activity.  Welcome to the afterburn.  You continue to burn more calories after even a 10-minute high-intensity strength training workout for up to 48 hours after the workout.  Nice return on investment!
  3. Increase endurance while reducing fatigue:
     Numerous studies have shown positive results for increased endurance in runners who incorporated strength training over those who only ran.  Strength training helps your muscles perform longer before fatiguing, which will keep you going in your long runs.  A cool biochemical benefit to strength training is your body’s improvement in converting waste (like lactic acid) back into usable energy to keep you going longer.
  4. Run faster: 
    When you incorporate strength training, you will improve your overall form and endurance.  This is the easiest way to make you faster and it doesn’t take long to see these results.
  5. More efficient: 
    When you make sure the parts are all in good working order, it’s hard not to perform better.  You’re becoming a more fine-tuned, well-oiled machine by incorporating strength training.
  6. Run without Effort: 
    Your perception of effort decreases with adding in strength training.

Incorporating strength training will allow you to generate more force when you kick off of the ground.  This combined with better running economy and better ability to utilize oxygen and energy, you’ll have a better final kick.  All of these benefits will be experienced in less than 2 months of consistent strength training.  Body weight exercises can be incorporated in on run days.  If you’re adding in heavier resistance training, add these exercises in on your off days when possible.  Simply put, strength training will make you be able to run faster, go longer, feel stronger and decrease potentials for injury.  The benefits of strength training reach far beyond improving your running capabilities.  Check out this blog for more details.


Lastly, make sure to check out our Training Page, with more articles, videos and resources to help you on your journey to Become Ultra including our 8 week “Becoming Strong” strength training for trail/ultra runners program.




Watch the videos of Dr. Kelly and Lauren Jones demonstrating a short circuit of essential exercises you should be doing daily to prevent injury and run stronger, longer!


Scott is the founder of Becoming Ultra and spends most of his time with his family and ideas to get people moving!