Through the years, I have gone back and forth on runners hitting the weight room. Mainly, my reasoning falls into the following arena. More muscle mass equals more weight, and the additional weight slows a runner ability to run fast. As runner, I want to run fast.
To look at me now, I do not embody a runner with bulging biceps or huge pectoral muscles.
In opinion, there are two reasons why not.
One, my focus has never been to bulk up. As runner, I consume protein regularly but not in the quantities needed for muscle building beyond the norm. Nor have I spent the number of hours in the weight room that I have spent running.
Two, when I do lift, I lift for endurance not power. My routine includes lifting a high number of reps at a lower weight with multiple sets. I use the same practice for both free weights and machines. The majority of my routine hits the upper body but I also do lower body as well. I do not do as much with the hips and legs because they already take a huge load from running. This is not to say, one should not include them. Regular maintenance for the legs and hips is a good thing.
During my racing season, I will usually limit my lifting to a maintenance cycle of two days per week with just one set. In the off season, I will usually hit the weight room three days per week.
Depending on the number of people at the Y, my workout usually takes about an hour to complete
Back to my original supposition, do runners need to lift weights?
My answer today is “Yes”.
If running is the goal, lifting will help. Lifting for endurance would be my recommend approach. Use this line of reasoning. Most likely no runner will ever ask their bicep to lift 100 pounds while running, but he or she will ask their bicep to work itself a 100 or 1000 time or more during a run or race. Strength built through resistance training helps that bicep become more efficient. In those last 6 miles of a marathon, the legs will be tired, but the arms can still be used. Most coaches will tell their runners to pump their arms late in a race and the legs will follow. They are right, but the arms need to be strong enough to accomplish this task.
One part thought….
What I wrote above is for runners in general. For older runners, hitting the weight room is absolutely the right thing to do. As I have aged, I have noticed a fall off in my own muscular strength. By visiting the weight room, I feel that I have been able to slow this muscular atrophy. At least it appears so from my racing. Yes, my times have slowed, but compared to others in my age group, my times have not fallen of as much.
Sharing one thought at time
The Cool Down Runner