In my opinion, what many runners categorize as strength training would be better described as stability.
If you were to search the hashtag #strengthtrainingforrunners on good old IG, I could almost guarantee you that the posts featuring stability outnumber the posts featuring strength eleventy-billion to 1.
Of course, stability is an extremely important component of strength, and should be included in any strength program for runners worth its salt. And it may be the perfect introduction to continued progress.
But, strength is the ability to produce force.
Increased stability does help improve the efficiency with which you transfer force (among other benefits), but stability work alone won’t improve the muscles overall ability to produce force all that much, which means we are leaving a TON of benefit (and speed) on the table.
In order to develop our ability to produce force, we need to lift heavy and occasionally lift fast.
If you are the kind of person who takes pride in their ability to carry in ALLLL the grocery bags in one trip, but never go heavier than 5-15# dumbbells for any of your strength work, then it’s entirely possible that you are selling yourself a bit short and would absolutely benefit from heavier loads.
If you’re not sure where to start, focus primarily on making gradual increases in weight when squatting and hinging. If you’re familiar with lifting in general, you would recognize this in movements like barbell back or front squat, RDLs, and deadlifts, etc. If you are less familiar with lifting, my two favorite places to start adding greater loads (once the mechanics are sound) are:
A few notes on squat mechanics: Start with feet shoulder width apart, slightly toed out. Keep your feet flat (don't come up into your toes) and your chest upright. The closer you hold the kettlebell to your body, the easier it will be. When coming out of the bottom of the squat, breathe out and drive through your midfoot.
A few notes on deadlift mechanics: Feet should be hip width apart (slightly more narrow than shoulder width), toes forward or every so slightly toed out. Reach down for the handle of the bell by pushing your butt back and allowing your chest to lower toward the ground while maintaining a flat back. Knees should be unlocked but the degree of bend at the knee should not change as much during the lift as the degree of bend at the hip.
Check out the videos for proper mechanics. Once you feel confident and comfortable with the quality of your movement, aim to gradually increase load over time using 5 sets of 3-5 reps with about 2 minutes of rest between sets.
There are a lot of ways to complicate programming. It's mostly a matter of finding what works for you! If you're interested in outsourcing the work of creating a strength program specifically designed for runners that actually WORKS and takes into account everything runners need - strength, stability, mobility, power, coordination, agility, etc. - all with the guidance of a coach, get on the waitlist for our next launch of Run Empowered, our strength coaching program for runners.