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Is Your Strength Training Missing Something?


Runners: Are you getting the most out of your strength training? And how the heck do you know?


As a strength coach for runners, one of the most common mistakes I see runners make is spending time and energy on incomplete strength training. What I mean by that is the overemphasis on mobility and stability to the exclusion of strength and power.


No doubt, improving your mobility and stability will have a positive effect on your running and should not be ignored.


But if you’re making the effort to strength train, that means running longevity and performance are pretty important to you right? Otherwise, why bother?


So then doesn’t it make sense that you get the most out of the training you put in? If you’re going to spend the time, let’s make it worthwhile!


In our latest Instagram post we outlined the components of the Run Empowered Strength Pyramid. I'll outline each component of the pyramid below so you can see how each one fits into the bigger picture, why they're important, and why they are stacked the way they are.


Mobility:

WHAT IT MEANS:

Ensuring adequate range of motion in your joints and soft tissues for running.

WHAT IT DOES:

Limits inefficiencies in your stride and reduces risk of injury.


Stability:

WHAT IT MEANS:

Improving muscular activation and timing to enhance the quality of your stride. Getting the right muscles to do the right job at the right time.

WHAT IT DOES:

Improves the distribution of loads, limits unnecessary wear and tear on your structures, and enhances the ability to efficiently transfer force, which reduces injury risk and improves running economy.


Strength:

WHAT IT MEANS:

It's the ability of a muscle or a group of muscles to coordinate and produce force.

WHAT IT DOES:

Influences the structural durability of your bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Impacts your ability to access higher gears, ultimately improving the quality of your speed work while reducing injury risk.


Power:

WHAT IT MEANS:

Power is the rate of force production, which enhances the real-time expression of strength applied to running.

WHAT IT DOES:

Force production (strength) primarily impacts stride length. Rate of force production (power) primarily impacts stride frequency or cadence.

Speed = stride length x stride frequency


All of the components of the Run Empowered strength training pyramid should be present in a well-rounded strength plan for runners. In general, we can think about mobility and stability the same way we think about our aerobic base training - it’s the foundation upon which we build.


But base-building alone isn’t going to maximize performance. Developing your strength and power through a few quality training sessions per week is similar to the addition of speed work in your running plan - this is where the magic happens.


Each level of the pyramid complements and influences the levels around it, so yes, your stability work is still very important. After all, you can only express strength and power to the degree that you are mobile and stable enough to do so. However, if you avoid lifting heavy or never train speed-strength and plyometrics (when appropriate), you are leaving TONS of performance benefits on the table.


Just like with running training, having a strategy for your strength training as well as planned progressions will take you much farther than inconsistent and random workouts pulled willy-nilly from various social media influencer accounts. If you find strength training “boring,” maaayybe it’s because you’re not seeing progress.


I'm feeling some big tangent energy: Copious amounts of variety from one workout to the next might make it a little more exciting in the moment, but actually seeing progress through well-planned movement selection and strategic repetition is what cultivates progress. Progress is fun! Seeing progress is the kind of fun that makes you want to come back for more. Progress is the kind of fun that offers internal motivation and incentive for better long-term compliance than variety for the sake of variety. And I'm pretty sure any runner who has ever trained for a PR in any race knows what I mean.


Need help with a plan? Need guidance and accountability? Join the Run Empowered Strength Team for a running-specific strength plan and a coach to guide you!

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