Did you know that you can build strength in your legs by running? This might seem like an obvious thing, after all, the pounding on your feet and legs should build muscle right? Yes and no. You will get somewhat faster and stronger by simply running everyday, however you will not reach your maximum effort by just running.
There are different kinds of running workouts that will help you build strength, for example, today I ran 10 miles with strides on the last mile. Basically, I ran easy for 9 miles and then on the last mile I ran 30 seconds hard followed by 30 seconds easy. These are called strides. Strides are 60 to 100 meter "pick-ups" that runners do to simulate the last haul before finishing a race. They are also performed to improve neuromuscular coordination and to make your running form more fluid. The end result is to get you to run faster!
Another way to get stronger is by incorporating hill repeats. For example, one of my workouts this week called for a 10 mile run with 8 sets of 45 seconds hill sprints. So, I ran about 4 miles to warm up and then I went to Miami's Key Biscayne Bridge (it's the only "hill" in Miami) and performed the 8 sets of sprints on the bridge. Hill repeats are great for building strength because they improve VO2 max and the contractions caused by the lifting of the hips, glutes and quads is similar to doing plyometric exercises.
These types of runs are usually dreaded by many runners because they are painful and exhausting, but they work incredibly well for speed and strength. A tempo run is begun with an easy warm up and an easy cool down. The tempo is done in the middle of the run at an effort outside your comfort zone. Here's a sample workout: Run 1 mile repeats at 5K pace. Complete 3-6 one mile repeats at that pace. The recovery time in between each mile is your 5K pace divided by 2.
These are short intense efforts followed by equal or slightly longer recovery time. For example, run at a hard effort for 2 minutes and then recover for 2 minutes. During the interval, your effort should be hard, but not that hard that you will pass out. It's a controlled hard run.
These are just a few workouts that runners do in order to get stronger and faster. Like I said before, I think it's important to perform other kinds of strength training, such as weights, circuit training, plyometric exercises, etc, however these are just some ways that runners strength train during their season to get stronger.
How do you strength train?
I am grateful that running provides
free therapy and a natural high.