Strength Routine for Runners

Strength Routine for Runners

There is an increasing number of people who go out to practice running and who compete both in popular races as well as professional races. Many of them surely want to improve their marks and their time in long-distance competitions like 10km and marathons.

To do this, there are other factors that directly affect the performance in the workouts and competitions apart from a running training, such as:

  • Nutrition,
  • Psychological factors,
  • Physiotherapy and injury prevention.

Moreover, another very important factor that can mark the performance during competitions and help us improve is a strength training. This is not commonly done among runners, but we are going to talk about its benefits in this post.

Why is a strength training so important for runners?

A good strength work can help us to:

  • Improve the use of energy: running at a certain speed while using as less energy as possible. Those runners who are capable of consuming less oxygen improve their performance during the race.
  • Avoid injuries: the stronger we are and the more prepared our muscles are, the less chances of suffering injuries.

A specific strength training

One of the principles of training is being specificity, which basically involves training similarly to the competition. In this case, the strength exercises that we will do have to be as close as possible to the movements of the race. You have to choose the exercises according to the dynamic and energetic circumstances of the competition, so that the training will have a positive impact.

If we do not have experience in strength training at the gym, the first thing we have to do is carry out an adaptation cycle and learn the technique of each exercise to avoid injuries caused by a bad execution.

Gym exercises for runners

After explaining why it is important to follow a strength training combined with a running training, and why this should be done specifically, here you have some convenient exercises that should be included in our gym routines.


Squat exercise

It is not necessary to do deep squats, a half squat is fine. Moreover, we have to control the back, since it has to be as straight as possible (even if we lean forward a little), always respecting the curves of the column. We should also make sure that the knees do not go further than the tip of our toes to avoid injuring our ligaments.

Running movement with dumbbells

Biceps with dumbbells

When the arm goes backwards, the elbow should be at 90º. We can move one leg a little bit forward to have more stability.


Lunge exercise

In this exercise, we should make sure that the knee does not go further than the tip of our toes while keeping the back as straight as possible.

Biceps + squat

Biceps + squat combo

We do a squat and when we go up we pull backwards with the arms. When we go down and stretch the arms we have to do so slowly, on the contrary, going up has to be done quickly.

Biceps with cable

Cable biceps exercise

Like in the running movement with dumbbells, the elbow has to remain at 90º when the arms is backwards while keeping the back straight. We can take a step forward to have a better control of the movement.

Steps raising the knee

Step exercise with knee raise

Like in the rest exercises, the back has to be as straight as possible during the whole movement. Moreover, we should take a quick impulse when going up and raise the knee.


Heel raise exercise

This exercise can be done both in the machine or with free weight.

Cable knee raises

Cable knee raise exercise

In this exercise, we should try to get the knee to 90º at least.

Eccentric exercises

It is important to use these type of exercises in our strength routine because they will help us to prevent injuries such as breakage or stretching.


Deadlift exercise

It is very important to keep the back straight in this exercise as well, use the hamstring muscles and not the muscles of the back. The hamstring muscles should be the ones that buffer the movement when we go down and the ones that help us go up. The eccentric effort is done while we go down.

Leg curl

Leg curl exercise

This is another exercise for the hamstring muscles. You just basically have to do push up with both legs and then go down with just one, slowly and controlling the movement.

Eccentric calf and soleus

Calves and soleus muscle exercise

This is another exercise that will help us prevent injuries like breakage in the calves and soleus, since we are working these muscles to make the stronger when they stretch. You just have to go up with both feet and go down with just one very slowly.


At the beginning of the season, apart from these specific exercises, you can do more general or complementary exercises that involve more muscles. In this way, we will strengthen all the muscles and be ready to do the more specific exercises better.


  • Bompa, T. O. (2000). Periodización del entrenamiento deportivo (programas para obtener el máximo rendimiento en 35 deportes). Barcelona: Paidotribo.
  • García, Verdugo, M. (2008). Planificación y control del entrenamiento de resistencia. Barcelona: Paidotribo.
  • Baechle, T. R., Earle, R. W. (2007). Principios del entrenamiento de la fuerza y del acondicionamiento físico. Madrid: Editorial Médica Panamericana.
  • Varela-Sanz, A., Tuimil, J. L., Abreu, L., Boullosa, D.A. (2016). Does concurrent training intensity distribution matter? The Journal of Strength & Conditoning Research.
  • Sedano, S., Marín, P.J., Cuadrado, G., Redondo, J.C. (2013) Concurrent training in elite male runners: the influence of strength versus muscular endurance training on performance outcomes. The Journal of Strength & Conditoning Research 27(9):2433-43
  • Piacentini, M. F., De Ioannon, G., Comotto, S., Spedicato, A., Vernillo, G., La Torre, A. (2013). Concurrent strength and endurance training effects on running economy in master endurance runners. The Journal of Strength & Conditoning Research 27(8):2295-303
  • Taipale, R. S., Mikkola, J., Nummela, A., Vesterinen, V., Capostagno, B., Walker, S., Gitonga, D., Kraemer, W. J., Häkkinen, K. Strength training in endurance runners. (2010) International Journal of Sports Medicine 31(7):468-76

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About Paloma Sala
Paloma Sala
Paloma Sala is an athlete in continuous training to give the best of herself, who has been practising and competing in athletics for more than 20 years.
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