Running a marathon, or competing in a triathlon, requires an enormous amount of physical ability. We plan for months, we execute our training regimen specific to each discipline, and hopefully resistance training, flexibility, and a healthy diet are a part of that plan. If you haven’t been resistance training, and you are a race runner or triathlete, here are some of the benefits of resistance training, and flexibility in racing.
Torso and upper body
If you have a strong upper body, you are able to maintain your form which is especially crucial towards the end of the race. By minimizing the feeling of fatigue in the neck, shoulders and arms, and back, you can power your way up hills and to a strong finish.
Legs and hips
Injury prevention is a key to weight training for a race. Running can create muscular imbalances, which can be corrected through proper corrective exercise. Strong quadriceps, hamstring and calf muscles help protect the knee, and below the knee, there are exercises to help decrease the onset of shin splints and other overuse injuries of the leg.
While not only assisting in proper running form, a strong core will protect the lower back which can take a pounding during a race through ground reaction force.
As we stated earlier, running, and other forms of strenuous exercise can create muscular imbalances that can lead to injury. Stretching and self myofascial release with a foam roll can decrease the incidence of injury and keep you on track with your training regimen. The Iliotibial band (or IT band) is connected to the outside of the hip and attaches at the knee joint. When your leg hits the ground during running, it tends to internally rotate which stretches this band with ever step you take. IT band injuries are common in runners and therefore precautions should be taken to stretch and roll as part of your program.
Muscles to focus on for runners
Hamstrings-these muscles work to stabilize the knee when your foot hits the ground and stores energy for release as it pushes off again. Needless to say they get a lot of use during running.
Calves- Shin splints is an overuse injury, and anyone who has ever had shin splints knows that they can be frustrating. Stretching calves, both the gastroc and soleus, can help decrease the incidence of getting shin splints.
Iliotibial Band- The Iliotibial band (or IT band) is connected to the outside of the hip and attaches at the knee joint. When your leg hits the ground during running, it tends to internally rotate which stretches this band with ever step you take. IT band injuries are common in runners and therefore precautions should be taken to stretch and roll as part of your program.
Additional benefits of a flexibility program
Helps prevents muscular aches, pains, and cramping
Helps with muscle efficiency, helping to improve speed, stamina, stride length and running form
Reduces the possibility of muscular soreness/fatigue
Decreases the possibility of injury onset
Consider doing your most frequent lifting during the off season and tapering back as you begin racing. Incorporate you stretching and flexibility training after every workout while your body is still warm. By adding resistance training and a flexibility program to your regimen, you can greatly reduce your chances of having an injury setback, and improve your performance.