Stretching and strength training

Every runner can benefit from stretching and strength training. Some runners are reluctant to strength train because they are afraid it will make them cumbersome. But strength-training can make your running performance more effective and more pleasant.

Runners do strength training for different reasons:

1. Strength training helps to reduce the risk of injury.

2. Strength training improves your running economy.

3. Strength training boosts your overall health. Running doesn’t do much to build or maintain muscle. Strength training is an excellent way to guarantee that you’re still able to stay active as you age.

Does lifting weights stunt my growth? Does it make me slow?

Weight training can make you faster (two-time Gold Medal Winner, Rod Milburn).

  • Want to be a better, faster runner?
  • Want to be able to leap tall building in a single bound?
  • Want to avoid injury and make your legs bullet-proof?
  • Want to look good?

Well, weight training will do the trick.

To be a good runner, it takes far more than running alone to get you in shape like:

  • good nutrition
  • sufficient sleep
  • strength through alternate exercises and 
  • limber muscles that don’t fight back

Back Pain 

Let’s take a look at the common problem – back pain.

If you suffer from lower back pain, there’s a 90% or better chance that this is the perfect illustration of muscles fighting back.

Quite a many suffer from lower back problems. We sit too much. At worst, your back might go into spasms and bend you over like some character in the horror movies.

Popular wisdom is to perform a series of strength-building exercises for your stomach and back. Does this help? Well, it might, but it might not.

With far stronger back and stomach muscles, if your back goes into spasm, the pain will be worse than ever.

So we need to give the problem some real thought. What is it about the lower body that seems to be at variance with the norm?

Many of us have incredibly tight hamstrings. Could this be putting unnecessary stress on the lumbar region?

You can do toe touches, which loosens the hamstrings for a while – unfortunately, that sometimes causes your back to go out.

In this case, you can experiment with a series of hamstring and quad stretches that you can perform while lying in bed.

With these stretches, before arising in the morning, your back hopefully doesn’t attack you anymore. However, don’t miss a morning. If you miss a morning or two, the back starts to feel “iffy.” 

Balanced Leg Strength

Running tends to develop strength in the quadriceps (front of the thigh) while doing little to develop the hamstrings (leg biceps). This strength imbalance can result in cramps and muscle pulls.

To avoid the various problems associated with short, relatively weak hamstrings, you should have exercises that will loosen, lengthen and develop hamstring strength to approximately 50% of quad strength. If you can lift, for example, 100 pounds with your quads, you should be able to lift 50 pounds with your hamstrings.

The exercises to develop quads and hamstrings are performed on a leg extension/leg curl machine.

Balanced Body Strength

To perform at peak efficiency, I believe the entire body, both upper and lower, should be developed into a harmonious whole. There are a wide variety of exciting resistance exercises that will help you create this harmony.

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