I have been neglecting my leg strengthening workouts for the past couple of months. When the choice is between going for a run and strength training, running always wins. I wanted to save my legs for the runs. However, lately I have noticed a few little twinges when I run and I know this is partly because I’ve been cutting my weight training days.
Last Friday, I bugged Coach Salazar to give me a few leg exercises. I went away happy with 4 exercises that I can incorporate to my program. On Saturday, I asked my former PT, Ken Tejada, to put together a leg strengthening program for me. Here is the plan:
Combo1: Deadlift and lunges
Combo2: Duck squat and side lunges
Combo3: Single leg squats & calf raises
Combo4: Leg press and calf raise (Machine, single leg)
Goal is to do 2 rounds. Each round hasa 3 sets x 12 reps. I will have to work slowly and carefully to increase my reps and sets. For now, I’m planning to do 2 combos per session.
I used to think that running was enough. However, when I did my trial workout last Saturday I noticed that I had to reduce my usual load because my legs were shaking half way through the Combos.
So, why do strength workouts?
1. To prevent running related injuries by strengthening the muscles and preventing muscle imbalance
2. To improve performance. A CoolRunning article states that, “Running faster is biomechanically a combination of increased stride rate and/or stride length. To increase stride rate requires an increase in POWER and an increase in stride length requires an increase in STRENGTH.”
Here are some articles you might want to browse through to get more info on leg strengthening for distance athletes.
Speed, Strength and Power Training for the Distance athlete - A CoolRunning article that offers an insight to the biomechanics of running
Strength Training Exercise - For those who would rather not lift weights, this article offers 3 exercises that will strengthen you legs also. We do these exercises during our drills at TeamBR.
Weight Lifting for Distance Runners - This, I think is a thesis/study. An FAQ that covers a whole range of topics relating to weight lifting and running
Strength Training for Runners - Has a list of suggested exercise per muscle group.
Leg Strength for Runners - Lists exercises to power up 3 major joints we use when running: hip, knee and ankle.