By Christina | October 1, 2009
Of all types of exercisers, runners are notorious for having the least diversity in their training regimens. Runners run. There are several problems runners face by not cross-training on a regular basis. First, runners are much more likely to suffer from joint injury because of the constant pounding and jarring to their joints that is inherent in running. People make the mistake and think they are cross-training because they vary their weekly runs in terms of pace and distance. Running is running. Changing the type of run you do is not sufficient to give your body a rest from the negative impact of running.
The second reason runners should cross-train besides injury prevention is to make them stronger and faster runners. There is a false notion in the running community that runners need to be lean and wiry to be a fast runner. Actually, strong runners are faster than runners with no muscle mass. Runners on the days they are not running should be incorporating resistance training into their workouts so they can become stronger come race day. Running marathons is not just a test of cardiovascular endurance. Developing your muscular strength and muscular endurance will ultimately make you run faster.
A study was released recently that found runners who strength trained 2-3 times for 8 weeks lowered their 5K times by 30 seconds. This is a tangible difference that resistance training provides runners. One of the unfounded fears of runners is that they will get heavy and bulky if they weight train which will slow them down on their runs. Unless you are a body builder, you will gain muscle without adding mass or bulk to your frame by lifting weights a couple times a week as a supplement to your running program.
Running is no different than golf or baseball. Tiger Woods transformed the game of golf into a power game of strength. He made it a requirement that golfers get strong in order to be competitive with him on the greens. Runners will see the benefits of adding strength training to their workouts very quickly. Their bodies will be come lean, strong, and defined. More importantly, their race times will become faster than they have ever been before.