(BEATTIE ET AL., 2014)
3 STRENGTH-BUILDING RULES FOR THE RUNNER
1. LIFT YEAR-ROUND, BUT BACK OFF DURING RACING SEASON
Build your aerobic base during the fall season and focus on building maximal strength at other times of the year. It’s more important that you focus on building a solid foundation of strength and movement proficiency with the major lifts (more on that in the next point) than anything else. Simply dial back the strength-training frequency during racing season to ensure you don’t cut into the recovery and performance of your running training.
2. CHOOSE FUNCTIONALLY SUPERIOR EXERCISES
Not all exercises are created equal. The strength and neuromuscular improvements from exercises like squat and deadlift variations will definitely offer far more carryover to running than isolation curls. I recommend checking the Bodybuilding.com Exercise Database or having a certified strength and conditioning coach instruct you on proper and safe lifting techniques for these exercises.
Single-leg variations, like single-leg split squats, single-leg deadlifts, and lunge variations are also important for the development of dynamic stability, which is important for increasing running economy.
3. JUMP, HOP, AND SKIP
Frog jumps, jump squats, bounding, quick high-knees—these are all forms of explosive bodyweight training called plyometric training. Plyometrics can improve the stretch-shortening cycle of your lower limbs by making joints, tendons, and muscle less stiff. (Don’t worry, stiffness isn’t a bad thing.)
When your foot lands with each running stride, your tendons and muscles store elastic energy, which can be utilized for the subsequent push off the ground. The better you utilize this energy, the better your running economy becomes.