Last week I discussed the importance of strength training for any running programme; how it can help to strengthen muscle fibres and improve speed.
The reality of long-term running is that you will come up against injuries sooner or later. You may not be in top-athlete mode but there is a reason top athletes use strength training.
Don't be under the illusion that anyone who lifts weights avoids running or that runners do their utmost to avoid the weight room.
Whether you run 5k, 10k, half-marathons or longer distances I can't preach to you enough how you can experience the best of both worlds from the two types of training – an aesthetically pleasing physique without a limp looking body, being strong without being too heavy and having a great cardio capacity.
Remember, a strong core will help keep things stable where strength will help you develop speed.
Equally, poor form will lead to injuries like shin splints from overstriding, and working on a correct postural form within the weight-room will help develop better posture.
As discussed last week, deadlifts, squats and lunges are all great if you can manage to increase the weight over time to really develop some good strength in the muscle fibres, but don't rule out other types of strength-training like plyometrics.
Fire up your muscles, starting with the basics, and use that good cardio ability with your weights to get some explosive workouts. Remember that any type of distance running breaks down the muscles so you need to do all you can to maintain muscle for the protection of joints, bones and connective tissue.
1. Start by standing upright, holding a barbell in front on the inside of your bent elbows, with your hands clasped at your upper chest and your feet shoulder-width apart.
2. Lower your body towards the floor, sending your hips back and down, bending your knees. Push through the heels to return to start position.
This is an ideal exercise if you suffer with any wrist or shoulder injuries, as it takes the pressure off them, but is also great for core-stability training as it makes your diaphragm and core work harder.
3. Repeat this action, keeping it light.
NB: If substituting this piece of equipment make sure it is a stable piece of gym equipment.