Strength Training to be a Better Runner
I was reading a book earlier this week and came across an intriguing analogy explaining the necessity of strength training for runners. It went something like this:
Consider your runner’s body is like a race car. Your heart & lungs are the engine. We can upgrade our “horsepower” by running & cross training. This aerobic exercise help our hearts pump more blood more strongly, develops a better vascular system to deliver that blood, and stronger lungs to move more air.
Sometimes as runners the only training we do is to “upgrade our horsepower.”
Now consider the car. Let’s say it has a powerful engine. Even so, you can “run easy” with that car by taking it slow on the gas pedal and slowing down in turns. The tires, brakes, transmission, and suspension can handle that.
But let’s say you drop a Corvette engine into a Honda Fit. Too much power can overwhelm the system, for example:
· Go too hard on the gas pedal and you can spin your tires
· You could go too fast and overwhelm the suspension in a corner
· Too fast to stop soon enough, overwhelming the brakes
· Sometimes the car can overheat if you run it too fast for too long
But in the actual Corvette, a high-performance car through ad through, all of the parts of the car have been upgraded for better performance.
Back to the runner’s body:
· Our feet are like a car’s tires
· Our legs and hips are like a car’s transmission
· The tendons and ligaments in our legs are like the car’s suspension
· And so on
If we make a habit of only training our “engine” then that part gets stronger more quickly than the rest of our “running machine.” When we have a strong engine (heart & lungs) it’s easier to run too hard and overwhelm the other parts of our machine.
We need to train the entire body. Running-oriented strength training allows us to “upgrade” the other parts of our running machine so that our tires, transmission, and suspension all become the high-performance parts we are looking for.