I have heard SO MANY people say they plan to start running to get back in shape.
I mean..it’s pretty easy, right?
All you really need is some shoes. No fancy equipment required.
Unless of course you don’t like fighting the elements outside. In which case you will need access to a treadmill.
Seems pretty simple.
There aren’t many success stories that I’ve personally heard about from people exclusively running to get in shape.
Don’t get me wrong, I completely admire those that lace up their shoes and go for a run. In reality, I love it when people move in any capacity!
But it also pains me to see people go “all in” with exercise only to see them taper off and eventually quit altogether.
Why does this happen so often?
One of the coaches I follow closely said something that really resonated with me as it makes a lot of sense.
I think it speaks to the fact that so many people stop running because of the injuries that so often occur due to the cyclical, repetitive action of running.
Mike Boyle stated, “You shouldn’t run to get in shape. You should get in shape to run.”
Now that might seem kind of harsh. But I think he’s on to something.
If you are consistently getting injured (shin splints, low back pain, knee pain, etc.), what does that say about your choice of exercise?
If I had people getting hurt all of the time in the gym, I would think twice about the things I had them doing!
Where am I going with all of this?
If you enjoy running, you CAN run to get in shape.. As long as you do some strength training as well!
You knew I was going there, huh?
Strength training has been shown to offer several benefits to runners, including:
- An improvement in running economy-Increasing strength throughout the entire body can help with every stage of the running cycle which can lessen the likelihood of injury.
- An opportunity to train outside of the saggital plane-In other words, running straight ahead for miles and miles will wear and tear on some joints and muscles while weakening other parts of the body. Moving the body in multiple planes of motion (aka side to side) can also decrease injuries.
- Lastly, it’ll make you look more attractive while running:)
Does this all mean that you need to spend hours and hours each week strength training?
But if your goal is to lose weight or to just be healthier, I strongly urge you to do sprinkle in some strength training.
Think about running as a part of the whole. It can be one of the bigger parts but let the other aspects of fitness fill in the rest.
So what can you add into your running program to better support your goals?
- Do some soft tissue/foam rolling. Creating wear and tear on the body means you have to actively pursue recovery. Don’t just take a day off to recover. Do something every day to make it happen. Try foam rolling. You should also be doing some soft tissue work on the feet. Grab a lacrosse ball, tennis ball, golf ball, or even a frozen water bottle and roll out the bottom of your feet. Spend at least 60 seconds on each side.
- Get out of the saggital plane. Do some exercises that strengthen and lengthen the muscles in the legs. Try the rocking ankle mob, lateral split squat, split squat, drop lunge, elbow to instep, and the lateral ham stretch These exercises will challenge you in multiple planes of motion rather than what most people are used to: Running straight ahead. They can also stretch the muscles the act of running tends to tighten:)
- Do some core/pillar work. Remember the “core” isn’t just abs. It’s all of the muscles from your shoulders to the hips, which are super important in gait. Try planks or dead bugs, side planks, 1-leg hip bridge, lateral walks or monster walks.
- Do some prep work prior to your running. Most people do some light stretching and then hit the road. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense! You’ve gotta prepare the body if you want it to perform properly! I like rapid response drills. They get the body firing quickly. And they get the heart rate up. Try 2 inch runs, lateral base, or base rotations.
Lots of stuff, but also lots of benefits.
These are just a few examples of things you could be doing to minimize the likelihood that you will be injured while running.
This is only the start. There are so many other things you could gain from a more detailed 1-2 day a week strength program.
Remember, if your goal is to be your best self, strength will most definitely help!
As a bonus, here is a quick 10-minute warmup to do prior to your next run:
- Rocking ankle x8ea
- Split squat x8ea
- Lateral split squat x8ea
- Drop lunge x8ea
- Elbow to instep x5ea
- Plank x5 breaths
- Side plank x5 breaths ea
- 1-leg hip bridge x5ea
- Mini band lateral walk 2x10ea
- 2 inch runs 3x:4s
- Then GO RUN
If you’d rather follow along, check out this video
Set yourself up for success. It may not be the first time you’ve tried to start running.. again.
The definition of insanity is doing the some thing over and over and expecting different results.
So try something different. Adding a strength piece (even if it’s small) will make you more resilient and help make your training more sustainable long term!