Having a separate, weight-bearing workout routine is one of the things that I believe helps with injury prevention and prepares me for those finish line sprints. I don’t do a lot. My routine is about 20 minutes long and includes just three exercises – squats, goodmornings, and tricep pulls.
Ironically, getting injured from weight training is one of the things that scare runners away. But the benefits are too great to not include it in training. It helps build stability, power, and yes, even endurance. You do need to use caution with how much weight you use, how quickly you add weight, and your form for each exercise. Be aware of what the dangers are, and listen to your body.
Another reason why some runners avoid this is because “they don’t want to bulk up.” If you’re a male, then maybe. MAYBE. But male or female, it’s ridiculously hard to bulk up while also being a distance runner. If you’re female, unless you’re taking supplements of some sort, forget it – bulking up isn’t a valid concern.
Squats on the squat bar – There are a few different proper ways. Flat shoes are best (or go barefoot). Keep your feet planted and your back flat. Some people say chest out, booty out, but you still have to keep your back un-arched. Experiment with how far out you want to spread your legs, and slowly lower yourself into the squat, coming up just as slowly. Make sure you’re using your butt!
Goodmornings – I like using a bar, but you can use dumbbells if you prefer. Start with the bar on the floor and lift with your hamstrings. Your feet should be planted, and back straight and flat. If you’re not familiar with this exercise, it might be helpful to try it without any weight first, focusing on lifting your upper body with your hamstrings. You don’t want to be lifting with your arms and/or back.
Tricep pulls – I’ll be honest, I chose this exercise only because it’s an area that gets used less than others in my life. But I wanted an exercise that wasn’t lower body to give my legs about a minute rest. Using both arms, raise the bottom end of the dumbbell from the middle of your back to almost the top of your head. Along with your triceps, this works your upper back, which helps with running posture.
Some people decide to start a weight workout circuit using machines instead. That’s fine, but I generally stay away from machines unless I need to isolate a specific muscle or muscle group. That would be useful if one side is greatly imbalanced or I’m recovering from and injury and doing physical therapy assigned exercises. When you work with free weights, you get the benefit of using and working your stabilizing muscles.